I’ve been attending Baselworld for more than a quarter of a century now, so it is pretty hard to surprise me when I show up at a brand’s stand to see the new timepieces. But at Baselworld 2016 I was surprised by Seiko, de Grisogono, Chanel, and Romain Gauthier. Read on to find out what exactly these surprises were.
Romain Gauthier, the independent watchmaker at home in Le Sentier, Switzerland and the French fashion icon Chanel, are bound by more than a passing working relationship: Chanel now reveals that it owns a “friendly” stake in Romain Gauthier. The seeds of this seemingly disparate partnership between Chanel and Romain Gauthier were sown during a meeting that took place at the 2011 edition of Baselworld. At Baselworld 2016 it comes full circle with the Monsieur de Chanel.
I was sitting at my breakfast table on the morning of January 18, 2013, when during my morning scan of news I saw a photo of something breathtaking. It was Logical One by Romain Gauthier – a watch I immediately knew that I would own someday. I was captivated by the white gold version with frosted gold movement: this was “the one” for me. Read on to find out why.
It’s no secret: I’m an immense admirer of Philippe Dufour. Part of greatness, of course, is leaving a legacy; not only through one’s works, but in the skills and inspiration passed on to those who follow, which Dufour has liberally done. But who, if anyone, will history regard as the lineal heir to the Dufour tradition? I’ve reached what may seem a counterintuitive conclusion: Romain Gauthier.
I deliberately wrote the headline as “Why We Are In A Golden Age For Appreciating Superlative Hand-Finishing . . . ” because, the fact is that if many people do not appreciate superlative hand-finishing, then fewer will pay for superlative hand-finishing, so there is likely to be less superlative hand-finishing on offer. So what does any of this mean for the future of superlatively hand-finished timepieces?
In this article I look at why high end watches cost so much by examining one of the most important factors. To answer this question, there are quite a few reasons, including low production numbers (mass manufacture brings prices down) and high complexity, but the one I will focus on here is hand-finishing, because unlike low production numbers and high complexity, ultra-high-level hand-finishing is not usually easy to appreciate.
There is not much art that that packs as much into such an aesthetically pleasing parcel as Romain Gauthier’s Logical One Secret Kakau Höfke. This watch uses one of the world’s finest timepieces as a “canvas” for the artwork of two renowned artists: Kakau Höfke and Olivier Vaucher. These two work in very different fields and even on different continents: Höfke is a painter located in Rio de Janeiro and Vaucher is a stone artist at work in Switzerland. What all three have created is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Romain Gauthier’s Logical One is a masterpiece of complicated mechanics, boasting − as with all of the models in his collection − a level of finishing rivaled only by the likes of Philippe Dufour, Greubel Forsey, and Kari Voutlainen. That’s high praise, indeed. With its four patents, Logical One delivers what it promises: a re-imagined complication laid out very logically. And the most recent edition of the timepiece taking home the 2013 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève prize for best men’s complication is a surprising all-black version.
One of the most important boutique openings took place in the heart of Mayfair with a launch party on June 24, 2015. William Asprey – a seventh-generation Asprey – opened the doors on a spacious new three-storey boutique. William & Son is a retailer with a distinctive Britishness about it, stocking bespoke luxury home wares, glasswares, writing instruments, and timepieces from brands and boutique makers such as Romain Gauthier, Breguet, De Bethune, Graham, H. Moser & Cie, Laurent Ferrier, F.P. Journe, Breva, and Ludovic Ballouard.
“This is a kind of homage for me,” Romain Gauthier explained as he showed me his superbly finished HMS Ten at Baselworld 2015. Gauthier celebrates a milestone with the appropriately named wristwatch: ten years of his company’s existence as a boutique watch brand. While this watch appears solidly classic in style at first glance, don’t be fooled by that. It contains a number of elements that are bound to make it an interesting evergreen in the years to come: compelling movement design, intriguing dial design, and great crown placement.