I'd like to share a little project I have. But before, let me tell you that I'm a Minute-Repeater WIS.
I’ve been in love with minute repeaters for about 10 years now, and I own several (all are recased from pocket watches)
I happened to have a small Minute repeater pocket watch. The diameter is 39 mm - or 1 inch 1/2 for those who are still using the Imperial measurement system (one day or another, you'll go Metric).
I bought it on eBay several years ago because of it’s size. Since the start, I wanted to have it transformed into a wristwach.
Two other pictures :
I wanted to transform it into a wristwatch, but not a simple recasing.
I wanted something more unique.
I then thought of the Haldimann watches. The H8 and H9 (pictures by Foversta)
and the H9 :
I like these watches because they are Art. They are Horology to the extreme. Horology for horology's sake.
And I thought : Why not simply take away the hands ? With a minute repeater, you can HEAR the time. So, you don't need to watch the time.
This watch would then loose the reason why it's call a watch. Should I call it a "Listen" ?
I then tried different ideas on Paint.net (easier than Photoshop, and free).
Yes, this last one is great ! (note : at that time, I didn't have the pictures of the movement nor the case. So, the pictures are complete photoshop, with the case from one watch, and the movement from another one).
What is funny is that a few days after I got this idea, I received the book "Minute Repeaters" by Patek Philippe.
And inside, there is this text (translated from French, I don't have the English version) :
The last words to the father of the Caliber 89, at the origin of all the contemporary Patek Philippe Minute repeaters. When we ask Jean-Pierre Musy to imagine the future and imagine the model that is still missing and that he would build if he had a free hand (carte blanche), the engineer thinsk, his eyes sparkles, with some mischief. [...] He very seriously answers that the fundamental objective of a minute repeater is to be able to know the time by night, or with closed eyes.
Here is his answer : "This would be a minute repeater without hands"
So, Jean-Pierre Musy dreamed it, I did it.
If Mr. Musy happens to visit Paris, I'd be honoured to show him my watch.
So, after several months waiting for the watchmaker to recase the watch, here are the first pictures he sent me.
OK. But there is a problem. With this configuration, it's impossible to set the time.
The green wheel should touch the blue wheel, that then make the orange pinion moves.
So, I ask my watchmaker to put back this wheel.
But the problem is that this wheel is held in place by the Hour Wheel :
And I asked my watchmaker to remove this Hour Wheel (as this wheel's only role is to transmit the movement from the Minute wheel to the Hour hand. As I won't have the Hour hand, I don't need the Hour Wheel.
My watchmaker sends me this picture, that shows that he kept the original case and dial. I wanted to keep the original case, even if I’ll most probably never need it again, because I try to apply to this project the same methods as the ones used when doing a restoration of a painting or an old object :
- Make any change reversible
- Make any alteration as discreet as possible.
I also asked him to make some extra hands (as I wanted a transparent dial, the original hands would have been too thin and it would have been very difficult to read the time.
So, some blued steel hands :
And finally, after a couple of extra days more, the picture I've been expected for several months :
He did a very nice work, as the small bridge is discreet and does not contrast too much with the rest of the movement, which is about 100 years old.
As a matter of fact, the watch should be seen like this :
The reason is that I want the activation lever to be on the right (I wear my watches on the left arm). I got the idea from a book my Richard Watkins about the Repeaters. It’s the best book that was ever wrote on the striking watches, and it’s free !
You can download it from Richard’s site :
The Repeater and Repeater Videos
He wrote :
I have always been frustrated by three things. First, the striking of normal minute repeaters is awkward and difficult to interpret. Second, the repeater mechanism is hidden under the dial and it is not possible to watch it while it is striking. And third, the repeater slide is always on the left side of wrist watches, where it is inconvenient to operate.
In 2007, as a result of writing the above explanation of time units, I “invented” my ideal repeater. It would use a decimal counting mechanism, the dial would be replaced by a transparent sapphire plate so that the mechanism is exposed, and the slide and crown would be reversed, placing the slide on the right-hand side of the wrist watch so that it is easy to use. Such a repeater would be just about perfect.
So, my repeater is almost the ideal repeater. I share Richard Watkins' thoughts on the ideal repeater.
Here is the video :
Now, to answer some questions that I already had :
Q : How will I set the time without the hands ?
A : Easy. Activate the repeater to know what time the movement is set to. Then, change the time, looking at the Hour Star that will make one jump for every hour. Once the correct hours is set, look at the minute snail and turn it, looking at the arms of the snail.
Should need some practice, but I think I can learn to set the time quite rapidly.
Q : Who is the watchmaker that did this transformation ?
A : Please contact me for details.
Q : Aren't you ashamed to have destroyed the original watch to transformed into this ?
A : I thought about it before I started this project. I also asked myself if I should take apart a very nice pocket watch and transform it into something else.
I know that I have the legal right to do so (and that no one will sue me about this watch). But I wanted to know if I had the "Moral Right" to do so.
The Berne Convention states about the Moral Right :
Independent of the author's economic rights, and even after the transfer of the said rights, the author shall have the right to claim authorship of the work and to object to any distortion, modification of, or other derogatory action in relation to the said work, which would be prejudicial to the author's honor or reputation.
I'm sure the watchmaker(s) that did this watch about 100 years ago would have never thought that it would be transformed into this.
Still, here are some arguments that make me think that I have the Moral Right to do this :
- There is not a single name on the watch. Not on the dial, not on the case, not on the movement.
- There is no brand on the watch. Which makes it less valuable (in horlogical terms, not in financial terms) than repeaters from Patek, Zenith, Vacheron, Audemars). I'm therefore NOT transforming a Patek into an Origami watch.
- This repeater probably had several hundred little sisters. So, it's not a Pièce Unique.
- Horologically speaking, this minute repeater is common. Nothing special to notice about it.
- I didn't add any brand name or text to the watch. I'm not implying I did it, nor that this is an official Origami Watch ("Superlative Officially Certified").
- I kept the original case, hands, crown, dial, because I wanted to keep a link with the original watch. I dont care how much gold the case contains. I don't care how much I could make selling it for it's weight of gold. I'm keeping it as an hommage to the original watch.
And finally, I think that a watchmaker would prefer to know that his watch is worn and loved, rather than stays in a safe. And no matter how nice a pocket watch can be, it's a pain to wear on a daily life. Wristwatches win hands down. Which, in the case of my watch, will be difficult, as there are no hands.
But I fully understand your point, and I don't ask everyone to share my views.
I hope you can understand my view. Not agree, but understand.
Q : What happen if I get bored of this handless watch ?
A : I had some extra hands custom-made, so it will be easy to put them back
Q : Did I seek professional help ?
A : Nope. I’m fine, thanks.
Q : What’s your next project ?
A : I could tell you, but I’d then have to kill you.
Now, finally, if I look back at the Haldimann H9, I could go a step further and hide the movement.
Which is, more or less, one of the project ideas :
I also liked this very minimal solution. But I’m too fascinated by the repeater mechanism to hide it.
Thanks a lot for reading. I’m impatient to read your comments.