Masters of horol­ogy

Neue Luxury - - Front Page - By Hung Tran Fecit,

There is a word in San­skrit—‘kalpa’—which means the pass­ing of time on a grand, cos­mo­log­i­cal scale. Na­tive speak­ers up­hold that the move­ment of ce­les­tial bod­ies can be ob­served only dur­ing med­i­ta­tive tran­scen­dence. Horol­ogy might be a no­ble science, but the watch­mak­ers on this list, who ap­proach their work with temer­ity and lyri­cism, prove that the tra­di­tion holds some­thing divine. These watch­mak­ers pos­sess dex­ter­ity, artistry, keen man­age­rial skills and in­fec­tious res­o­lute. They are, it seems, all req­ui­site in the craft of pack­ing plan­ets into pock­ets.


Franck Muller is horol­ogy’s em­i­nent ma­gus. He spent four years at the Geneva School of Watch­mak­ing and, later, was re­spon­si­ble for han­dling and restor­ing watches from the col­lec­tion of Patek Philippe. In 1983, Muller pre­sented his first col­lec­tion of wrist­watches with self-made com­pli­ca­tions; in 1998, he un­veiled the world’s thinnest tour­bil­lon, out­do­ing the record set in 1945. In 2015 he re­leased the Van­guard col­lec­tion of watches with Curvex cases, again fo­ment­ing his rep­u­ta­tion as the “Mas­ter of Com­pli­ca­tions.”


Philippe Du­four is an alum­nus of the famed Sen­tier Tech­ni­cal School. He be­came a watch­maker in 1967, and was later em­ployed by Jaeger-lecoul­tre as a re­storer, di­rect­ing his focus on re­peater and strik­ing clock mas­ter­pieces. In 1992, he built the world’s first wrist­watch with grand and pe­tite son­nerie with minute re­peater: an 18 karat white-gold watch that chimes the hours and min­utes in pass­ing like a grand­fa­ther clock. One of the four time­pieces he pro­duced was sold for US$437,000 at Christies.


Fran­cois-paul Journe’s start in watch­mak­ing was guided by an avun­cu­lar light. In 2000, he un­veiled the Son­nerie Sou­veraine, which re­quired pa­tient toil: six years’ re­search, ten patents, over 500 com­po­nents, and four months of as­sem­bling. His studio oc­cu­pies a for­mer gas lamp fac­tory in Geneva’s Plain­palais district, where it is now, iron­i­cally, flooded by re­serves of nat­u­ral light (the ceil­ings are over 3.5 me­tres high, a rar­ity in Geneva). Journe’s Latin com­pany motto, In­venit et

trans­lates to ‘he in­vented it and he made it’.


Fin­nish watch­maker Kari Vouti­lainen at­tended the Watch­mak­ers of Switzer­land Train­ing and Ed­u­ca­tional Pro­gram. Later, he spent nine years restor­ing the world’s rarest time­pieces un­der the aus­pices of the Parmi­giani Mesure et Art du Temps. Vouti­lainen es­tab­lished his own ate­lier in 2002; he de­buted at the Basel­world Watch Fair three years later. In 2014, he and his team of 15 spe­cial­ists pro­duced 38 time­pieces. His ma­jor in­no­va­tion is a dec­i­mal re­peater that chimes the hours, the 10-minute in­ter­vals and then min­utes.


Christophe Claret in­dulged in a hobby of dis­as­sem­bling watches and clocks in his youth. He later spent 10 months with Roger Dubuis, ply­ing his skill on per­pet­ual cal­en­dar watches, and en­rolled in cor­po­rate man­age­ment cour­ses in prepa­ra­tion for the launch of his own for­mal ate­lier. His first cre­ation as a move­ment de­sign en­gi­neer was Cal­i­bre CLA88, a San Marco minute re­peat watch. He in­vented the world’s first mu­si­cal wrist­watch to chime on de­mand and in pass­ing, which fea­tures a 20-tooth comb that gen­er­ates two tunes.


Re­becca Struthers is a de­sign poly­math. She is a Doc­toral Re­searcher in An­ti­quar­ian Horol­ogy and holds an MA in His­tory of Art and De­sign; she is qual­i­fied as a jew­eller, a sil­ver­smith and a di­a­mond grader. Re­cently, how­ever, she re­serves much of her lap­idary prow­ess for pre­ci­sion in watch­mak­ing. She works with her hus­band and mas­ter watch­maker Craig Struthers from their studio in Lon­don. In 2013, their Stella pen­dant watch was awarded the Bri­tish Lon­min De­sign In­no­va­tion Award in the Emerg­ing De­sign­ers cat­e­gory.


Peter Speake-marin was once em­ployed by Somlo An­tiques, Lon­don, and helped es­tab­lished their watch restora­tion depart­ment. He re­leased his first watch, The Pic­cadilly, in 2003, and later be­came a mem­ber of the Académie Hor­logère des Créa­teurs Indépen­dants. His trade­marks re­main the heartshaped hour hand, crown with deep grooves, and elon­gated lugs hold­ing the case with a thick no­ble leather strap. Be­fore work­ing ex­clu­sively on his name­sake brand, he con­sulted and de­signed for Harry Win­ston and Maîtres du Temps.

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