Art & Technology
Dufur & Blounge: Time Guard
In 2012, the Sihh was officially represented by the project of maintaining manual watch crafts Le Garde Temps, Naissance d’Une Montre (“Chronometer. HOURS”). His “parents” was the independent watchmaker Philippe Dufur, the founders of Greubel Forsey Robert Gruby and Stephen Forser, as well as the technical lyceum teacher Didro from Paris Michel Bled. On May 30, 2016, the working prototype of the chronometer assembled by the manual bouling was sold at Christie’s auction in Hong Kong for a record 1.46 million dollars. What awaits the project next?
You can remember who exactly the initiator of the idea of Naissance D’Une Montre, how did it arise and how, in the end, met all the participants?
Dufur: It started ten years ago. We somehow met with Robert Grubiy and Stephen Forssi and began to say that the main problem of our industry was the preservation of know-how. Huge luggage of knowledge and skills that are incomprehensible as to whom to convey. So we talked and said until they came to the conclusion that something real should do something. And what could be more real in the clock industry than the watches themselves? We decided to “make on the light” literally as a child – the name of the project immediately appeared. But it was necessary to find someone who agreed to devote him to the maximum of his time. And Robert knew Michel before and thought that he could agree. As a result, Michel did not just agreed – he took a three-year holiday so that at first fully immersed in the project. It turned out that Michel had a lot of ideas. He showed all new and new sketches, and with Stephen and Robert were forced to return it to Earth (laughs). Finally, after three years, we have a very real idea. Then Michel made a final layout in CAD …
The prototype of the tourbillon Naissance D’Une Montre, who received the name La Montre Ecole, was presented in January 2016 after 4 years of work
On the computer?
Dufur: I had to. For the sake of time saving. If he began to calculate everything manually, and not in the CAD program, it would take another two years. And it was necessary to start the production of the parts themselves. What naturally was done only manually.
Where did it happen?
Bled: I worked in my own workshop near Paris. But some of the work performed in La sho dese, in the Atelier Greubel Forsey, and sometimes came to the workshop of Philip.
Dufur: two years ago it became clear that we did something real. The prototype was almost ready, it could be shown to people. And then we began to look for partners who would help bring the project to the final stage. Honestly, we wanted to attract clock groups with their powerful marketing. But they were not interested. But we attracted the attention of large retailers, such as Seddiqi in Emirates and Pisa OroLogenia in Milan. And finally, our partner became Christie’s, who spent a fantastic auction and refused his usual premium. Now in line to make all eleven copies of the series, which already have buyers. By the way, the first copy was delivered to the client in mid-January.
But this is already a routine, although nice. And what do you think to do next?
Bled: I will continue to make a clock (laughs). In fact, this experience was unique in the sense that I had a lot of theoretical knowledge of the time business, but for the first time I was able to apply them all in practice. And now I look at many things in a different way. This will help me in teaching. And since in France by law, I can work a limited number of hours, then the time will still be on something. I will continue to master handmade technicians. And also, maybe I will write a book.
Dufur: It was only the first step. We founded the Time Aeon Foundation, which supports traditional hour crafts, now in Geneva we present in its framework Oscillon brand. But we also continue the program transfer program to young masters. We have already invited three more watchmakers from different watch schools: from Switzerland, France and Finland.
Do they also create clocks from scratch? Dufur: No, now it’s not about this. But they master those appliances who do not teach in modern hour schools. How to make a manual English, how to pull the items yourself and polish them correctly manually. Perhaps this is a step towards their following independent projects.
By the way, in your opinion, what hours school today is the best?
Dufur: WOSTEP is good. I heard a lot of good about Zeitzentrum in Grenchen. And another school in the French Morto.
Blounge: Paris, of course!
Returning to Naissance D’Une Montre: What serious problems did you encounter in the process?
Bled: For me, the main enemy was time (laughs). I worked in my mode: Designed, I did, I reworked … But the rest it seemed that everything was very slow. I myself caught myself on what I start to hurry. Now no one is used to spend so much time on the manufacture of hours. Everyone likes only the moment when the finished clock is laid out on the table and customers begin to choose.
Dufur: And there was a problem with mutual understanding, it seems to me. Many people were involved in the project, and they were all represented, so to speak, different watch cultures. Stephen Forsi English watch school, Robert Gruby from Alsace, there is its traditions. Michelle from the Paris school. I’m from Vale de Zhu. We found themselves in different ways what it means to “make it right.” And in the practical plan, the most difficult was to find a suitable tool. For example, Michelle showed me a picture of the detail, and I asked him: Well, with what you will pull it out? It sometimes it turned out that we cannot pick up a suitable tool, the result was completely different, or the process was very complex. Then there were other ideas.
Mr. Dufur, when we talked in Basel three years ago, you said that we would be happy to teach, but you absolutely do not have time for it, because first of all should make the watch yourself. Now, judging by the involvement in the Naissance d’Une Montre and Time Aeon, the time apparently found. How?
Le Garde Temps – Naissance D’Une Montre (from left to right): Didier Captain, Patrick Gralls, Stephen Forsi, Jean-Francois Erar, Antoine Schumi, Michelle Bled, Robert Gruby, Severin Vitaly and Philip Dufur
Dufur: I said that I could not train in my own workshop, because there I should make a watch all the time, this is my main job. But this project was organized in such a way that he did not distract me, Robert and Stephen. Michelle took all the work. We met for a general discussion once or two per month. Sometimes he came to my workshop and worked there for several days. Sometimes he traveled to La sho de the background. But it is absolutely not the same thing that take constant students and spend most of the working time on them.
In his autobiography, George Daniels recalled that in England in the middle of the twentieth century they treated the hourly subsections, as in the books of Dickens, unless they did not beat. Whereas now the watchmaker is an elite profession, it is mastered for pleasure. And even your program looks like a hobby. It doesn’t seem to you that the hour profession may be an excellent social project for those who really need it. For example, why not open watch classes in prisons? Or in schools for hard teenagers?
Dufur: Great idea! I’m all for it. Some criminals are so talented that they can do wonderful clocks (laughs). But who will finance it?
Blounge: Such programs exist in France. Prisoners make clocks and decorations. It’s funny, because many of them are just sitting for theft of jewelry.
That is, you still admit that Naissance d’UNE MONTRE is a utopian project, built mainly to entertain everyone who is involved in it?
Bled: For me it was not an entertainment, but calling your own opportunities. How can I deal with watch affairs if avoiding similar tests? For example, at school, where I teach, about fifteen students are sitting in my class every year. And at best, one of them is really ready to take on something bold and new. The rest go in the stream.
Dufur: This is a problem not disciples, but schools. They prepare those who later go to work on hourly manufactory. That is, in fact, not masters, but operators owning only the volume of skills that large brands are needed. And all graduates understand that if they want to get a good stable job, they should not be fantasized, but to clearly follow the instructions.
Swiss factories are just now worried about the wave of abbreviations. What do you think the attitude towards the watch profession will change in the future?
Dufur: I am sure that we will soon have to revise the concept of “Swiss watches”. Make less, better and, maybe a little cheaper. When the industry grew, more and more workers were attracted, not only masters, but also marketers, vendors, advertisers. To contain all this army, it was necessary to raise prices, produce more and more hours … And what happens now? Strokes are overflowing. And it does not occur to anyone that the clock stored in the warehouse for more than two years must, at a minimum, send to the reasant. Maybe it’s necessary to throw the power of the industry now?
Art & Technology