WOSTEP School Watch By A Band Of Brothers For Only Watch 2017: The Only School Watch That WOSTEP Has Ever Offered To The Public (Live Photos)
by Ian Skellern
On November 11, 2017 the latest edition of the Only Watch auction (OW17), a biennial sale of exclusively unique timepieces to support research into Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic disorder primarily affecting young children, will get underway.
This seventh edition of Only Watch will see 49 watches put on the block, the vast majority of which − 47 out of 49 to be precise − are unique variations of production watches that brands have created especially for this auction.
Two of the 49 watches at OW17 are even more unique: these two timepieces have not been developed by watch brands, but rather by third parties that generally work behind the scenes in supporting the large watch brands.
One of these is by Agenhor, an award-winning, family-run movement and complication development company based in Geneva, which has created a timepiece called Carpe Diem for Only Watch 2017 (see more at Carpe Diem By Agenhor And HEAD For Only Watch 2017 Is The Very First AgenGraphe Chronograph Delivered And The Only Agenhor-Branded Watch).
WOSTEP School Watch For Only Watch 2017
The other “even more unique” watch to be auctioned at Only Watch 2017 was neither conceived and developed by a watch brand nor by a company that makes watches or even components for watches: it was developed by WOSTEP, an international watchmaking school in Neuchâtel, Switzerland that trains watchmakers from all over the world.
While WOSTEP’s bread-and-butter curriculum is training young watchmakers to work for the big brands that financially support the school, it is the Complications Course for experienced watchmakers that attracts the best of the best from all over the world. And it’s in those Complications Courses that lifelong friendships are formed.
Watchmaking is a fairly incestuous business, especially in Switzerland, where distances are small and watchmakers often work for many different brands over the courses of their careers.
The idea for creating a WOSTEP School Watch for Only Watch originated in an idea by Peter Speake-Marin, who then got together a “Band of Brothers” group of 16 WOSTEP alumni to help support the project.
The horological Band of Brothers includes:
Stephen Forsey: English, co-founder Greubel Forsey
Bart Grönefeld: Dutch, co-founder Grönefeld Timepieces
Tim Grönefeld: Dutch, co-founder Grönefeld Timepieces
Marco Koskinen: Finnish, teacher at the Finnish watchmaking school, making tourbillons and minute repeaters at Cercle des Horlogers
Stewart Lesemann: American, independent watchmaker/prototypist and restorer of antique watches
Marko Makinen: Finnish, TAG Heuer complications department
Stephen McDonnell: Irish, independent watchmaker/movement designer
John McGonigle: Irish, independent watchmaker, co-founder McGonigle Watches
Maarten Pieters: Dutch, director of WOSTEP
Clas-Hendrik Pihl: Swedish, independent watchmaker
Jouni Polanen: Finnish, teacher at the Finnish watchmaking school
Mika Saikku: Finnish, teacher at the Finnish watchmaking school
Stepan Sarpaneva: Finnish, founder Sarpaneva Watches
Peter Speake-Marin: English, founder Speake-Marin, independent watchmaker, and owner of www.thenakedwatchmaker.com
Kari Voutilainen: Finnish, ex-teacher of the WOSTEP Complications Course, founder Voutilainen watches
Simo Ylitalo: Finnish, teacher at the Finnish watchmaking school
Additional support for the project was provided by the following people and companies, who offered their services for free: Philippe Belais/Vaudaux presentation case, Charles André Mosset/Cronal SA hand-engraving, Fiona Krüger vectorizing signatures, Guy Lucas de Peslouan/ArtSight photography, Donzé Cadrans enamel dial, and Audemars Piguet steel case and blued-steel hands.
The ethos of the project was to emphasize the value of people and friendship in supporting a noble cause, and by that measure alone I think it can be considered a huge success. However, it will be the auction hammer price that dictates what contribution the watch actually makes to charity.
The WOSTEP School Watch for Only Watch 2017 is the only watch ever to be made available directly by WOSTEP to somebody who has not studied at the watchmaking school, completed their own school watch, and graduated. The WOSTEP School Watches are usually only presented to each student at graduation upon completion of the 3,000-hour program.
The movements for the WOSTEP School Watches are supplied as incomplete − meaning without bridges or main plate − and unfinished Unitas 6498-1 calibers provided by ETA.
As part of their 3,000-hour courses, WOSTEP students either have to make or buy − the more they do themselves, the higher the marks − the following components: banking pins, bridge feet, pallet bridge feet, minute wheel post, balance staff, and winding stem.
The bridges and main plates are supplied by WOSTEP for the students to modify and finish as they wish.
For the WOSTEP School Watch for Only Watch, WOSTEP teachers fabricated and hand-finished the components.
The case and blued steel hands were supplied by Audemars Piguet, both fabricated and finished to the brand’s highest standards.
The oven-fired white enamel dial was supplied by Donzé Cadrans (owned by Ulysse Nardin), and unless physically damaged will look just as good after hundreds of years as the day it exited the kiln.
The presentation case designed and supplied by Vaudaux is particularly appropriate for a school watch as it is reminiscent of a traditional student’s desk, with the top surface sliding out to reveal storage space underneath.
It should be noted that the WOSTEP School Watch for Only Watch is a true school watch designed to highlight the knowledge and skills of its maker: it is not designed or intended to be a pocket watch, though could be transformed into one with the addition of a bow around the crown to attach a chain − though it’s unlikely that would add value to such a unique piece.
The WOSTEP School Watch for Only Watch 2017 is not only a unique timepiece in its conception, it’s likely to be the only watch in history to have been signed by so many great watchmakers.
For more information, please visit www.onlywatch.com/the-watches/wostep.
Quick Facts WOSTEP School Watch For Only Watch 2017
Case: 54 x 9.75 mm, 316L stainless steel, coin-edge case band, engraved names of 16 WOSTEP alumni (8 around bezel, 8 around case back rim)
Dial: white enamel with Arabic numerals, text and indications in black enamel
Movement: manual winding caliber based on ETA 6498-1 with essential components made and hand-finished (black polished steel, frosted bridges) by watchmaking teachers at WOSTEP, engraved “W.01,” 46-hour power reserve, balance frequency 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph
Functions: hours, minutes, small seconds
Limitation: unique piece
Auction estimate: $13,000-$23,000 / €11,000-€20,000 / 12,000-22,000 Swiss francs