Masters of horology
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.