What I Learned Building A Watch With aBlogtoWatch At Frederique Constant

What I Learned Building A Watch With aBlogtoWatch At Frederique Constant

What I Learned Building A Watch With aBlogtoWatch At Frederique Constant Inside the Manufacture

The following article was written by Andrew E. who accompanied aBlogtoWatch Founder Ariel Adams on a trip to Geneva to build a watch with Frederique Constant. This is his account of the experience and you can read Ariel Adams' full account of "What It's Like To Build A Watch" here. We thank Andrew for recounting his experience and sharing his mutual passions for watches:

When I first tried to describe what it was like to win the watch lover’s trip of a lifetime, I ended up writing a lengthy travelogue that while descriptive, failed to adequately put into words how it felt to win the aBlogtoWatch/Frédérique Constant Holiday 2012 giveaway. How can you write about something so insanely cool for a watch nerd? Even though the experience has come and gone, I still struggle to describe the mixture of elation, incredulity, excitement, and gratefulness that I feel about the whole thing. So in this article, I would like to paint a broad – and wholly inadequate – picture of what has happened to me since that fateful January day that Ariel Adams told me I was the winner.

So a little about me: my name is Andrew and I’m a surgeon from Indianapolis, Indiana. I’ve always liked watches, but only within the last few years have I really cultivated an appreciation of mechanical watches. Part of my fascination with timepieces is that they are such intricately designed and expertly assembled tiny machines that turn the unwinding of a spring into a useful device that accurately tells time. More personal to me, though, is that with a little maintenance, a watch can serve someone for a lifetime and then be handed down to the next generation for his or her enjoyment. I treasure my father's and grandfather’s watches, and since I became a parent, I wanted something that I could pass down to my children. So when the opportunity arose on ABTW to travel to Geneva to build a watch at the headquarters of Frédérique Constant and Alpina, I jumped at the chance to enter the contest. Certainly I was comfortable working with my hands, and the chance to assemble something to pass down to my kids was very intriguing. I didn’t think I had a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning, but I figured I would give it a shot.

What I Learned Building A Watch With aBlogtoWatch At Frederique Constant Inside the Manufacture

What I Learned Building A Watch With aBlogtoWatch At Frederique Constant Inside the Manufacture

When Ariel emailed me on January 2nd to congratulate me on winning, I thought I was the victim of some cruel Internet hoax. Luckily it actually was Ariel and not a Nigerian diplomat or the UK Lottery, and he assured me that this was real. We made plans for the dates to visit the manufacture, and Frédérique Constant graciously allowed my wife to come for the coolest wedding anniversary trip ever. Sylvie at Frédérique Constant was a great help in arranging travel and preparing me for my first-ever visit to Europe. After the longest 4 1/2 months of my life and a red eye flight (and the accompanying jet lag), I was in Geneva!

We were able to schedule some time to see a little of the city, but obviously the big attraction for me was going to be my time at Frédérique Constant. The evening before the watchmaking program, I finally met Ariel. He’s a lot like he sounds on the HourTime podcasts: funny, extremely knowledgeable, and a veritable encyclopedia of the watch industry. He also seems to know everyone in the watch business, so he was a great resource in getting me familiar with the Swiss watch industry. I think he was as giddy as I was to get a chance to make his own watch. My overall impression of him was that he’s just a neat guy and fun to talk to, and we had a blast over the next few days.

What I Learned Building A Watch With aBlogtoWatch At Frederique Constant Inside the Manufacture

  • MarkCarson

    Far freaking out Andrew. Thanks for the write-up. What a great experience and fantastic keepsake of it all. But you mentioned ‘kids’ (plural) and there is only one FC watch to be inherited, ha ha.

  • RaoMak1

    So freaking jealous of you. Kuddos on your trip and a memory you would wear all you life and pass it on to next gen. what an amazing win.
    But I am so jealous of you……. :'( lol

  • adisoon

    Great story! You lucky guy, you…

  • Thierry

    Nice story. Thank you. My favorite part was about the mistakes, because it shows how complicated it can be to assemble a watch. And, as you did, I can understand better the price of such objects.
    I hope one day I’ll be able to get one.

  • Ryan B

    Congrats to both of you …. lucky bastards 🙂

  • village idiot

    Great article. Particularly liked the parts about the oil not being exactly right on the two jewels. Wow. This is incredibly precise. Obviously a Q-tip is not the tool called for.  The tiny part that made like a Challenger launch into outer space sounds as  a click spring. Is your watch a manual wind?  Any part that may take a notion to fling itself away ala a fighter jet off the deck of a giant ship will avail itself of first opportunity to do so. As well, the laws of normal physics are suspended as magically somehow mass turns into thin air never to be seen again.
    You have a nice way with words. May this fine timepiece give you, (and hopefully your son or daughter) many years of service.

  • AtotheG

    Great piece, Andrew.  Your enthusiasm and appreciation show that they definitely picked the right guy.  
    Ariel, when is the F.P. Journe holiday giveaway?

  • JonnyD

    Really informative article Andrew, well done. I love the shot of you holding the dial above the movement where you can see the cut-out for the moon phase. The dial has a lovely hue and looks so sharp and clear.

  • Kris C

    I’m not ashamed to say I’m jealous of this one – especially the personalization on the movement – what a great cherry on top that is.

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