During my absence; I’ve been binge-watching some short documentaries when something caught my eye while video-surfing YouTube videos one lazy night: watch-making.
I’m not talking about easily available timepieces that you usually find normally in most jewelry and watch stores that litter malls and select retailers that cater to the general public. Those are easily mass-produced and come out of a factory that pumps them out by the hour, oftentimes automated with no human interaction other than the odd quality control and packing.
I’m talking about watches that are SO unique as to be so rare and so distinct that they are more or less one-offs and are most often MADE BY HAND depending on the brand or maker.
Something like this, the Montblanc’s Tourbillon Cylindrique:
It’s amazing as how it’s mostly made by hand as the precision required something akin to a surgeon doing an intense sort of surgery for several hours – or months – to even complete a single watch depending on the number of complications it has.
Just looking at it, one KNOWS immediately that they are basically functioning works of art!
Hungry for more, I suddenly find myself doing research.
Prior to the modern age of watchmaking that makes most commercial watches via assembly line, everything was done by hand by gifted individuals in places like England, Switzerland, etc. Especially Switzerland.
I now understand those jokes about going to Switzerland to buy watches.
Yes, the rise of watchmaking was done in the “old world”, but there are also some that are cropping back in America as well that seemingly died out by WWII.
In modern times, watchmakers undergo training courses such as the ones offered by the BHI, or one of the many other schools around the world following the WOSTEP style curriculum. Some USA watchmaking schools of horology will teach not only the wostep style including the ETA range of movements but also focus on the older watches that a modern watchmaker will encounter on a daily basis.
So why am I so interested in something that I pretty much can’t afford unless I make over a million/billion dollar gross income?
It’s because of how they are made!
The engineering that goes into making the fully functional pieces of art is awe-inspiring!
But the manually created watches are also more or less a rare industry that sometimes surges up and down every now and then. As what was so commonplace before the advent of the automated assembly line concept to streamline the once hands-on approach for each watch that has been a staple for several hundred years, it has now become something of an artform and only the best cabineteers (their word, especially the Swiss from what I saw in one documentary) can provide those impressive timepieces.
These are people called the Independent Watchmakers, and they command just about absolute respect for their skills in the craft.
And VERY hefty prices for their work.
The luxury watches that they provide can sometimes take up to more than a year to make depending on the complexity (complications) of the design. Especially if they are truly independent from the commercial watch-making companies as they actually “sign” in their own name in their work and have almost little to NO help.
Take some of these as examples of them doing what they do best – and a name or two will be familiar to some because one or two of them also more or less produce non-luxury watches:
And Valerii Danevych – who makes MOST of his watches out of WOOD – to name a few.
I could practically watch these videos and more like them without tiring as the work they do is simply FASCINATING!
Author: Richard R. for RaccoonTV
Reacting to sources via the links and videos highlighted in the article.