Welcome back to an original aBlogtoWatch feature, “My First Grail Watch.” In this series, we ask prominent people in the watch industry about the first timepiece that they lusted after. Today, we’re speaking with Christophe Claret, of the eponymous brand as well as several other ventures in the Swiss watch industry.
aBlogtoWatch (ABTW): Who are you, and what is your relationship to the watch industry?
Christophe Claret: My name is Christophe Claret, president of Manufacture Claret S.A., Christophe Claret S.A., Christophe Claret Engineering S.A., and president of the brand Jean Dunand. I have been designing and producing very high complicated movements for the most prestigious Swiss brands for more than 25 years, up to 25 different brands. In 2010, I launched my own brand under the name Christophe Claret, but I go on producing movements for third parties (a dozen of brands).
ABTW: When did your fascination with watches start?
Christophe Claret: At the age of 14, when my parents took me to visit a watch restorer’s workshop. This encounter proved to be a life-changing experience. Passionately interested in all things mechanical, I asked the craftsman if he would let me come and help him every Friday afternoon after school. The idea appealed to the watchmaker, who agreed. Every week from then on, I worked on taking apart watch mechanisms to clean, maintain, or restore them, until I began attending watchmaking school.
ABTW: Now, that is quite a way to start off! What was your first grail watch?
Christophe Claret: The first I created myself during my 4 years of studies at the Geneva school of watchmaking: it was a pocket watch.
ABTW: Most people are drawn to pre-existing watches – why did you decide to break that pattern?
Christophe Claret: I was interested in creating my first watch.
ABTW: Was this a watch that you kept, or did you pass it along?
Christophe Claret: Of course, I kept it and added it to my personal watches collection.
ABTW: Do you still have it today? Additionally, have you moved on to any other grails?
Christophe Claret: Unfortunately, I do not have it anymore, as someone stole it with other watches from my personal collection. After producing this pocket watch at the Geneva school of watchmaking, I used to work on skeleton watches in my workshop. These watches represent a great aesthetic and artistic research in relation to mythological symbols.
I then produced my first Jacquemart quarters repeaters that marked the beginning of the manufacture. This watch enabled me to sign my first contract of Jacquemart minute repeaters*. Since then, I have produced 68 calibers whose simplest movement is the tourbillon.
*Note: The Ulysse Nardin watch featured in the image uses the Christophe Claret Jacquemart repeater.