Visited the atelier of German Master Watchmaker Stefan Kudoke
I know Stefan Kudoke for more than 10 years but so far there was never any chance to visit Stefan Kudoke in his work shop in Frankfurt/Oder or (later) in Dresden. We met once or twice a year, either in Basel (Baselworld) , Munich (Munichtime) or Glashütte (Antique Watch Market).
If I remember correctly I met him in person for the first time in November 2010.
Last Monday I had the extraordinary pleasure to visit the work shop of Stefan Kudoke. A couple of month ago Stefan and his lovely wife decided to say „Good Bye“ to Dresden and the city’s amenities and moved into a two-storey house in Weifa, a little village in the middle of nowhere, with a total of 700 inhabitants and tightly fitted into the landscape of the „Lausitzer Bergland“.
Pic by Ev Kudoke, titled Octopus time
All in all my visit lasted over 6 hours and we had a lot of fun together when talking about watches, Stefan’s philosophy on watchmaking, craftsmanship, the past and future in general and in particular. I drove back to Berlin with a lot of interesting impressions.
About Stefan Kudoke
Stefan Kudoke, founder and eponym of the company, learned the watchmaking business from two experienced master watchmakers who taught him to understand and love the world of mechanical watches.
He completed his apprenticeship being awarded as the best valedictorian of Brandenburg state whereby he was accepted by the Federal project of scholarship for outstanding students.
He then won the 3rd place in a federal competition of young craftsmen in watchmaking.
With these awards he started to work at "Glashütte Original". There he refined his skills in the studio for complications and prototyping. Later he moved to the US and serviced Breguet, Blancpain and Omega watches in New York.
After he received his master certificate at the age of 22 he successfully finished a study in business administration which spurred him to dedicate himself entirely to his passion for designing his own watches. The brand KUDOKE was born. The focus of Kudoke is on the fascination for the special and the individual, which manifests itself in the extraordinary and unique design of its watches.
„There are quite a few watch brands, but only few can create emotions. What makes a watch extraordinary? A good watch stands out due to the perfectly concerted sophistication of its movement. An outstanding watch matures during weeks of handwork to become an unique piece of art with own personality at the end of this process. But only if even the smallest nuances perfecting a watch are considered it becomes a real KUDOKE. Our first principle is individuality - an individuality you can not find in any mass product but only in unique pieces.
Due to the consideration of customer preferences each KUDOKE reflects the individual style of its owner expressing his distinctive personality. Each KUDOKE is an unicum. Only this combination meets the demands of a real individualist. For KUDOKE the aspiration for Individuality, it is not just a phrase – it is the center of our creative work.“
Since 2019 Stefan Kudoke is AHCI Candidate which says a lot if not all. The Académie Horlogčre des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI) is an association with the mission to perpetuate the art of independent watch and clock-making.
About Kudoke watches
Stefan Kudoke's current collection consists of three product lines
By realizing special wishes, a Kudoke EigenWerk (YourWERK) is said to reflect the uniqueness of its owner and represents its unique personality.
But in my humble opinion every Kudoke is - somehow - unique. The pursuit of individuality and its expression is not just a phrase at Kudoke - it is the center of his work.
At Kudoke, special attention is paid to details and the consideration of individual customer wishes, which makes each KUDOKE a unique and unmistakable one.
Due to the complete refinement of the movements by hand and the resulting enormous effort, only a very limited number of KUDOKE watches can be produced. By skeletonizing and engraving by hand, the maximum of the completion of mechanical movements is taken to extremes.
Relatively new to the KUDOKE portfolio are the HandWerk timepieces Kudoke 1 and Kudoke 2 I introduced to you here:
As you already know Kudoke watches are known for creative skeletonizing and engraving. His work shop is fully equipped for this type of work, you will find all sorts of watchmaking equipment : drills, cutting machines, engraving styluses and the like - practically all you need to cut and put movements, dials and hands into shape.
Even a Ruhla quartz alarm clock isn‘t missing
Most of the work is done here by Stefan himself, only for the most elaborate engraving work he consults master engravers, one of them is located in Marburg, the other is working in Dresden.
Work like skeletonizing a ratchet wheel, polishing a balance cock or surface treatment of plates are entirely done by himself.
Here you see Stefan polishing the balance cock of a Kudoke 1…..
The next pics show Stefan polishing the edges of the ratchet lever of a Kudoke 1 movement…..
The surface treatment of a Kudoke 1/2 base plate is done by hand as well. To achieve the grainy surface of the base plate Stefan moves the plate in circular motion in a stiff abrasives, cleans it with cleaner’s solvent….
…..puts it back for more circular motion, cleans it again, and puts it back again until it looks like that:
Kudoke 1 and Kudoke 2
Kudoke Octopus (KudOktopus)
Kudoke Real Skeleton
Kudoke Free Oktopus
Kudoke White Flower
Stefan Kudoke Ex Centro Rhodium
Kudoke Panda Regulateur
Kudoke Concept Watch, a Flieger inspired handcrafted timepiece
I was really surprised to see a watch that was obviously inspired by aviator watches. Of course, Stefan has remained true to his philosophy here, this watch is Handmade in Germany, skeletonized by the Master Watchmaker himself. The way he skeletonized the movement underlines the more toolish character of the watch, clear lines and bold but still elaborate, different though compared to the Panda, Octopus, Real Skeleton models of the „Kunstwerk“ range of watches.
Stefan emphasized that this watch is a concept watch. it is not a true prototype yet. Building a prototype, he explained, would mean that the watch actually goes into a small series and that's not exactly certain.
Readers of the Wristwatch Annual might remember that they have already seen a pic of the watch and they are right. The Wristwatch Annual 2018, page 174, was the only medium which has published the concept watch so far. Second was/is WatchUSeek.