Karel Rotation By Independent Czech Watchmaker Ludek Seryn: Symmetry In Perfect Harmony

Baselworld is going through enormous changes, which are not only about the fair’s layout and exhibitor booths. These changes are also about the decreasing number of visitors spending less and less time at Baselworld.

Fortunately, these changes also precipitate a small positive thing: a growing number of creative independent watchmakers exhibiting, who provide a great reason to stay in Basel for at least one more day. One such watchmaker, a new applicant for membership in the AHCI, is Ludek Seryn from the Czech Republic. And at Baselworld 2019 he can be found at the group’s booth in Hall 1.1.

To maximize his chances of being invited to exhibit with the AHCI, Seryn felt he had to come up with something really outstanding: a watch that would bring him attention from both his fellow independent watchmakers and watch aficionados. And it looks like he has done just that.

Karel Rotation by Ludek Seryn: a movement rotating 360° every eight hours

Ludek Seryn studied horology, then expanded his portfolio of artisanal skills with goldsmithing, jewelry, and stone-setting.

Karel Rotation is the watch that Seryn worked on day in and day out for two and half years. There’s a reason for the unusual name that I will explain below.

Karel Rotation by Ludek Seryn

Karel Rotation by Ludek Seryn (photo courtesy TempusX)

It took about 1,000 days of hard work to realize a seemingly unrealistic vision. Completely independently at his workshop in Prague’s Vinohrady quarter, Seryn created a mechanical steampunk timepiece with an innovative movement design.

Of the 264 components making up Karel Rotation, Seryn produced 75 percent of them – without the use of CNC machinery. The other 25 percent of the components, including the hairspring, mainspring, and bearing jewels, were outsourced to specialists; however he then hand-polished and beveled many of these outsourced parts to the high standard he thought his watch deserved.

The fully functional prototype already has an owner: a Mr. Karel (Karel is Czech for “Charles”), the first name of the client. But this patron is not just a client: he helped Seryn with the financing and preparation of a possible small-scale production.

With the Karel Rotation, Seryn has crafted a new kind of manufacture movement with original architecture using a rotating base (hence the word “Rotation” in the watch’s name) and two independent movements sharing one spring barrel. The entire movement is supported on a single shaft around which everything else revolves like planets around the sun – including the spring barrel, plates, automatic winding assembly, and even the hands.

Karel Rotation By Czech independent watchmaker Ludek Seryn

Karel Rotation by independent watchmaker Ludek Seryn (photo courtesy TempusX)

The owner witnesses the rotation three times each day as the movement makes one complete rotation every eight hours – an interesting way to measure work time?

The Karel Rotation has a power reserve of a 42 hours. Both of its old-school 2.5 Hz balances and their gear trains (two escape wheels, two second wheels, two intermediate wheels, and two minute wheels) share a single spring barrel. Though this is an interesting construction, it is also a challenging one as both oscillators must be tuned absolutely perfectly.

The dual movements – exuding symmetry and harmony – are entirely dependent upon one another.

Independent Czech Watchmaker Ludek Seryn

Independent watchmaker Ludek Seryn at home in Prague

The Karel Rotation’s origin story

In his attic studio overlooking the beautiful city of Prague, Seryn first developed innovative models of his parts in a ratio of 8:1 with a 3D printer. Although this made the construction work on his in-house complicated movement easier, nothing about designing the movement was simple.

Designing and manufacturing the wheels and gears as well as a custom mechanism to control the hands took time, though the gear train and escapement is from the Czech classic Prim Caliber 66. Seryn had already used the Caliber 66 in his Carabus watches, Skeleton Tonneau, and Skeleton Round.

View right right through the transparent back of the Karel Rotation, and right through the transparent winding rotor and the dual movements orbiting the case

View through the transparent back of Karel Rotation, and right through the transparent rotor and the dual orbiting movements (photo courtesy TempusX)

Seryn’s automatic movement, which cannot be wound manually, uses a sapphire crystal oscillating weight with a heavy platinum segment occupying half of the periphery of the transparent disk.

Setting the time is done by a leveraging mechanism, using a key Seryn crafted at the 12 o’clock position where there is a corrector with a triangular profile (the client can of course modify the shape according to his or her wishes).

Moving the corrector to the right and into its first position pushes the minutes forward, while in the second position they can be set backward. Shifting the key to the left in the corrector slot moves the hours forward or backward, which is wonderfully observable from the front due to the skeletonized nature of the movement and nonexistent dial – the charcoal black lever shaped like a “devil’s tail” moves the visible central gear with 12 teeth.

A unique movement requires an appropriate case, and the generously sized 45 mm case of the Karel Rotation allows room for appreciation of this piece of mechanical kinetic art from almost every angle.

Karel Rotation by Ludek Seryn

Karel Rotation by Ludek Seryn (photo courtesy TempusX)

The gold frame of the case is completed by glass produced in the Czech Republic: while the front and the back components are conventional sapphire crystal, the sides comprise a custom-blown ring of mineral glass.

The Karel Rotation is water resistant to 30 meters and comes on an ostrich leather strap. Future straps will be made by the bespoke Sima workshop in Prague.

If you are visiting Baselworld from March 21 to March 26, 2019, don’t hesitate to stop by and see Ludek Seryn and his Karel Rotation at the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI) stand or contact Seryn via his website to make an appointment.

For more information, please visit www.serynwatches.com.

Quick Facts Ludek Seryn Karel Rotation
Case: 45 x 20 mm, gold
Movement: original automatic caliber using the Prim 66 as a base; two sets of gear trains and escapements; 2.5 Hz/18,000 vph frequency, 42-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes
Price: starting from €200,000

Jan Lidmaňský is a watch collector and journalist from the Czech Republic; follow him on Instagram at @watch_the_food. Follow @TempusX on Instagram for more beautiful watch photography. 

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