July 9, 2009
by Ariel Adams
Putting together a watch like the Maitres du Temps Chapter One or Two is not an easy effort. You don’t just do a quick drawing and get it over with or pick pieces from a parts bin. At the same time you can’t just draw it up in a CAD program and then build it out of metal expecting a masterpiece. You need the accumulation of years of experience from people who have messed up enough times to know how to get it (making a nice watch) done right. This is the theme of Maitres du Temps, to bring watch making masters together to create special things.
I want you to consider something that I recently realized. Ever notice how lots of “new” brands focus on the “heritage” they bought from a long dead watch brand, or alternatively from some long dead watch maker? These brands use their own designers to emulate what was well known in the bast piggy-backing on that success. It is a good model. But the “new” brand is only as good as the current designers and the rest is just marketing. Then you have Maitres du Temps that does not try to create some fallacy of resurrecting a old brand. Instead, they rely on living legends who actually contribute to the watches. So the difference is that Maitres du Temps actually has watches designed by watch making masters rather than just having a brand or watch models named after them. It is an interesting point that I didn’t consider in the past.
The images you see here were taken mostly at Baselworld 2009 and show how three master watch makers who collaborated for the Maitres du Temps Chapter Two watch actually “collaborate.” Daniel Roth, Roger Dubuis, and Peter Speake-Marin are all part of the resulting Chapter Two watch for example. The first image show them with Maitres du Temps founder Steven Holtzman together. The little watch on the table there, that is the Chapter Two (most likely). Not exactly the best lighting or focus for the watch – but you get the idea.
I can’t say how these gentlemen get along in person. Maybe they are the best of friends or merely tolerant of each other. However, if the accumulation of their efforts is any sign, the passion for watch making brings them together. See Daniel Roth looking through a loupe through the rear of one of the watches and Roger Dubuis doing the same below at one of the parts. Notice the plate with the Maitres du Temps logo engraved in it. Aside from the delicate logo engraving look at the perlage polish on the other surface. Notice how it is not exactly “even?” That is because it is hand done. Unlike cheaper perlage polishing, the “fancy stuff” is all done by hand. Master watch makers regularly inspect this work which is necessary to ensure conformity and “exactness” given the “uniqueness” of each piece as it is individually done. The engraving of the logo is too precise to be done by hand is likely the result of a CNC machine. This also goes for the engraved writing on the gold automatic rotor for the movement. There you also have a combined effort of hand engraved decoration with machine engraving (the wording).
The last image has Daniel Roth and Peter Speake-Marin sitting at a table in a restaurant. While this no doubt occurred many times in a natural setting I am sure, here you have a film crew recording what became the Maitres du Temps Chapter Two watch corporate movie that can be viewed here. Notice the setting is in an actual restaurant. The challenge for the crew is to capture the personalities of the master watch makers as their “images” are a significant part of the Maitres du Temps watches. As I mentioned above, these aren’t watches branded with these master watch makers in mind. Instead, the master watch makers are an actual part of the watch as they are the designers. I think it might be interesting to have (as a future component) the signatures of each of the master watch makers somewhere inside of the Maitres du Temps watches – something for them to consider to enhance the “master watch maker DNA” of the watch line (as there will be future “Chapters” in the Maitres du Temps watch collections).