Vanessa Lecci’s ‘Insane’ Pendule Neuchâteloise clocks
While tastes and fashions are constantly changing and continuously evolving in the field of mechanical wristwatches, they seem to be at a standstill in the field of table clocks and wall clocks; or even worse, the love for a larger clock seems to be slowly slipping away.
What used to belong in every good household in the past is increasingly side-lined, disappearing into attics or cellars or ending up at flea markets: the Cuckoo clock, the Black Forest clock from Germany, the omnipresent kitchen clock, all the beautiful British longcase clocks, all the beautiful French table- or desk-clocks, and the famous Swiss Pendule Neuchâteloise clock.
I have always loved Neuchâteloise clocks because of their design and shape and the way they look on their own special wall mount. The design reminds me of the Louis XV style, the paint and strong and rich decoration reflect the character of the homeland – Neuchâtel. Early clocks bear great names such as Jaquet Droz, Robert Courvoisier, and Les freres Ducommun.
Both the Musée International d’horlogerie (MIH) in La Chaux-de-Fonds and the Musee D’Horlogerie Du Locle-Château des Monts (MHL) in Le Locle, own and display an impressive amount of pendulum clocks from different eras and regions.
And yes – Neuchâteloise clocks are produced still today, mainly by the watch brand Zenith (in Le Locle) and Le Castel(in Saint-Aubin) – but commercial success is steadily declining. The majority of customers buying these clocks appear to be tourists rather than true lovers of fine horology.
Does this mean the Swiss pendulum clocks are dying out? Is there no more interest in this pendulum clock in Europe or all over the world? I have seen so many Pendules from the Neuchâtel region on the streets and on flea markets in fairly good condition for very low “please-take-me-home” bargain prices, often found for under 200 euros. But most leave them aside.
An idea to save the Pendule Neuchâteloise
It feels like a new plan needs to be made. My initial spark of an idea came goal of breathing new life into the well-known and a bit outdated Neuchâtel clock, and GPHG Academy member Vanessa Lecci in Peseux (just outside Neuchatel) has made this one of her tasks. She calls her collection of clocks the ““MyWayWatch” (confusingly though it’s clocks not watches) – which is her customization concept to this famous clock.
Lecci’s focus lies in a new design for these clocks – the Pendules Neuchâteloises revisitees.
Born in the south of Italy into a family of artists, today Vanessa Lecci is a master enameller working in Peseux, Neuchâtel, Switzerland. For over the last 20 years she has been working on very unique enamel pieces for different occasions, and for the world’s leading watch and luxury brands including Parmigiani Fleurier, Vacheron Constantin, Cartier, Patek Philippe, Hublot, Bedat & Co., Zenith, and Christophe Claret to name but a few.
World-class master enameller Vanessa Lecci’s atelier
What is not so well known is her activity in restoring the famous pendulum clocks from the Neuchâtel region. The colors and designs she applies to the old-fashioned pendulum clocks might shock some traditionalists, but for me she brings amazing new life to these outdated (to many) and often obsolete clocks. I admired the Insanewatch from the first moment I saw one. What Vanessa Lecci calls MyWayWatch is a colourful new style of Pendule Neuchâteloise.
When I ask her about her motivation, Vanessa Lecci replies, “I love the shape of this clock and I do not want them to vanish from our attention. They are so beautiful.”
Lecci’s activities in this regard are also reflected in a collaboration between HEAD, Geneva and Time to Watches exhibition in Geneva. led by Lecci in 2023, students in the HEAD watchmaking class worked on an interpretation and modernization of the Neuchâtel clock. The main focus of MyWayWatch can be best described as an upcycling and customization approach of the traditional Neuchâtel pendulum clock. A limited series of 12 Insanewatch clocks is planned, each with a unique design.
The movements of the clocks are completely overhauled by a specialist watchmaker from the Neuchâtel region, and the wooden cabinets will be completely redesigned by Vanessa Lecci.
“It’s my freedom how to design of each clock” Vanessa Lecci says, but if a customer has a special design or an idea about the Insanewatch, “Their ideas can be developed with me” she told me. Prices will depend on the degree of customization, but start at around 7,200- euros.
The arts and crafts of Vanessa Lecci
The Insanewatches come from the golden hand of a thoroughbred artist and master enameller holding a Maturité Artistique (metal/jewelery) and a Diplôme de l’Académie des Beaux-Arts (scenography / sculpture section). She is also a member of the Homo Faber guide platform as a master craftsman (the public event is held every two years in Venice by the Michelangelo Foundation for Creativity and Craftsmanship).
One of Vanessa Lecci’s essential specialties is the technique of cloisonne enameling. When I asked her why and when she developed a sense of the art of enameling, the answer was as quick as it was direct: “Enameling found and chose me.”
It is significant that Cartier Horlogerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds hired her for setting up the company’s enamel workshop between 2003 and 2006. She initially began this task alone – and this laid the foundation for many works for the biggest and most exclusive brands in the watchmaking universe for her.
Whenever I am in the Geneva region I try to see one of the Insanewatches.
For me, a colorful clock like the Insanewatch is the most worth seeing and most worth looking at clock I can imagine from a contemporary perspective. The Insanewatch has the shape of shapes and the maximum of bright and shiny colors. The Insanewatch embodies the clock of all clocks for me. And I love the sound, the slow and steady ticking and the beautiful sound of the bell every hour and half-hour.
I’m a boundless lover of clocks in all shapes and executionsand am happy to share my passion with you here.
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