Sunday, September 25, 2016

GAÏA Prize 2016 - Vianney Halter Honoured!

2016 marks another milestone for talented watchmaker Vianney Halter as he is awarded the GAÏA PRIZE by the Musée International d’Horlogerie of la Chaux-de-Fonds in the Craftsmanship and Creation category. The following is a press release from the man himself.


Vianney Halter was born in Suresnes, in Paris outskirts, in 1963. His father was a train driver for French National Railways. In his oldest memories, he remembers his father bringing home old machines and mechanical parts that fascinated him. In a way, early exposure to powerful locomotives, steam engines and control instruments might be the origin of Vianney‘s attraction to mechanics and engineering.



At the age of fourteen he set his mind on deepening his knowledge of mechanics, took the train to the capital and enrolled himself at the Ecole Horlogère de Paris (Paris Watchmaking School). After graduating in 1980, Vianney Halter spent the first ten years of his professional life restoring antique horological items. This gave him a broad knowledge about the art of horology.


Being independent since 1994, he produced various timepieces for famous brands such as Harry Winston, Breguet and Audemars Piguet, among others. Starting 1998, he also dreamt up and developed his own collection of wristwatches. His creations have been welcomed as avant-garde pieces and are considered as instigators of a new trend in watchmaking. Vianney makes atypical timepieces in a stunningly traditional manner, using his unique style, his own technical patents and trademarked designs.


As a matter of fact, when he presented his first model, the Antiqua Perpetual Calendar in 1998, the watch was immediately regarded as a “relic from the future”. This enabled him to assert his creativity and granted him access to the AHCI. In the following years, Vianney Halter created 10 different wristwatch models. However, the high level of craftsmanship keeps the production at a confidential level, as less than 500 watches bearing Vianney Halter’s signature were ever produced.


In 2013 he unveiled his new creation, the Deep Space Tourbillon: a futuristic three-axis Tourbillon under a crystal dome. As with the Antiqua, Vianney innovated and created general surprise with a previously unseen mechanism and bold design. These 22 years of independence spent perpetuating watchmaking art and his contribution to the contemporary horological landscape have won him eight prizes. The quality of his expertise placed him as one of the 64 players who were selected for the White Book of the FHH (Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie). The white book aims to delineate the idea and principles of Haute Horlogerie.

Vianney at his office.


2016 Laureat GAÏA Prize - Message from Vianney

It’s a great pleasure to share with you the following news: I have been awarded GAÏA PRIZE by the Musée International d’Horlogerie of la Chaux-de-Fonds, on Tuesday, along with the historian Roger Smith, professor Giovanni Busca and entrepreneur Pascal Rochat.


The jury has designated me as the 2016 laureate in the Craftsmanship-Creation category for my “contribution to the renewal of aesthetic and technical codes in contemporary watchmaking, showing a respect for craftsmanship, without ever making concessions to conformism”.


I’ve been touched by these arguments as they refer to my global way of working. This represents the recognition of years of research, ideas, development, independence and perseverance in fighting for a compromise less horology. I love to create crazy time machines, spend time with antique things, seek, understand, fix, deconstruct, rebuild... and this distinction incite me to continue in this way. Reward my all career motivate me to boldly carry on exploring and seek out in horology universe.


It is also for me the occasion to thank the GAÏA jury and the Musée International d’Horlogerie for this precious award, attributed in a totally independence and neutrality. Attributed since twenty years at the autumn equinox, the GAÏA PRIZE prevails as a reference in the time measurement vast world and honours prominent figures who have contributed and who contribute to the reputation of watchmaking, through its history, its technology and its industry. It annually recognises the considerable and undeniable contribution that its prizewinners have made to watchmaking, to its knowledge and culture.


A distinction rather than a Prize, therefore a spontaneous application is not possible; applications presented by third parties allow the members of the Jury, prominent figures from Switzerland and abroad from various fields, to assess each contribution on a neutral basis and to choose a winner. The independence of the Jury is granted by its President, the Curator of the Musée International d’Horlogerie.


Message from Eddie

Congratulations to Vianney Halter on his winning the GAÏA Prize. Definitely a worthy winner given that he has devoted so much to Haute Horlogerie and designing some of the most iconic pieces.


I have done the a few posts on the timepieces by Vianney. Starting with the Antiqua Perpetual Calendar and also the Goldpfeil Jumping Hours Moonphase. Both timepieces belong to good friends of mine.

While most of his timepieces are already out of production, Vianney still produces the Deep Space, The Antiqua Perpetual Calendar, the Trio Grande Date and the Classic Janvier Moon & Sun.

Text as provided for my Vianney and all watch pictures are mine except those of the Deep Space.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Unique Timepieces and Customisation

Some time back in 2009, I met a Singaporean watch enthusiast who wanted to start his own watch brand.

Reeds Tan started Reedsco shortly after our meeting. Prior to our meeting, Reed was already tinkering with customised timepieces. His earlier works were focused much on developing customised dial for timepieces with cushion shaped cases.
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This timepiece comes with a customised python skin strap made by another friend of mine Jason of JnS. The timepiece comes with a screw-in crown for better water resistance.
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He first started with a "rusty" dial type and then became more adventurous playing with different techniques and experimenting with different mediums. I actually purchased one of them "rusties" but passed it to a friend who had taken a liking of that special piece.
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This is one of his later dials, having improved his technique to develop new texture. He tells me it takes it at least one to two weeks to experiment and through trial and error develop specific dial colours.
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And the close up of the sandwich dial. Why sandwich you ask? Well the bottom base (white) is luminous and the top dial is textured and placed above the luminous dial like a sandwich. At night, the luminous bottom lights up.
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It takes lots of practice and patience to develop a dial like this one. Well finished.
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Over time, Reed developed his technique for making lume on his timepieces.
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And another of his experiment yielded "The Pyramid". Seen here with a strap made from a baseball mitt.
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According to Reed, he discovered the pyramid dial by accident. It was an experiment "gone wrong" but as with all good inventors, you make do with the circumstances and turn it around. Turn it around he did and he came up with "The Pyramid" dial.
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Nice texture and colours on the dial. Blessing in disguise I guess. Reed tells me I have the first two pyramid timepieces he made. Let's call them Number 1 and Number 2!
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A close up of the sandwich dial - well painted and finished.
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And the lume on the pyramid dial.
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Now for the case back. The open case back reveals a UNITAS calibre movement. Robust and reliable.
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And decently finished too. At least Reed is honest about his work. He tells you what movement he uses, where he sources it from. He does not use an unfinished movement, hide it under a solid case back and hope no one finds out. And oh... gives it a nice sounding name and makes it a Limited Edition and charges you an enormous amount of money!
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And just so we can wear similar pieces, I had one made for missus - in pink no less and with a red hornback croco strap.
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These are trendy pieces and are good value for money. Reed makes them affordable - that has always been his goal. To make timepieces that are reliable and affordable. With his Reedsco range, he is fulfilling that dream.