A spot of history

Over thirteen billion years ago, the Universe was formed with the Big Bang. Several billion years later, the Sun, without which there can be no life on Earth, was formed from a cloud of gas and dust. Homo took his first steps a mere 200,000 years ago. Our ancestors’ constant search for means of subsistence took them from Africa and across the planet. They slowly developed an awareness of time, first the present then notions of past and future as the basis for life in groups of individuals. Homo sapiens, at first a hunter-gatherer, evolved from predator to producer. With this new production economy came trade and the exchange of goods, but also of knowledge.

A pivotal moment in human history occurred circa 2400 BCE when the Mesopotamians imagined a unit of measure which we still find in our base 60 (sexagesimal) system for counting minutes. Clocks that used the sun, water or fire measured the intervals of time which astronomers needed for their calculations. Soon the first gear-driven mechanisms appeared, a prelude to mechanical timekeeping which, of all human inventions, has probably had the greatest influence on how we think. With it came a new concept of time as a linear succession of discrete, calibrated, universal intervals. Farming communities became industrialised. “Modern” time measurement was born.

From the origins
to the late
13th century
-2000 - 13th Century
As time goes by

The Ancient Greeks and Romans had no need for instruments that measured time with precision. At most they sought to prevent speakers at the tribunal from overrunning their allotted time. Gear-driven mechanisms were already in use, as Aristotle noted, although they served chiefly to display astronomical information. Time was a mainly philosophical notion.

Time in Greece and Rome

In his efforts to situate himself within time, Man looked to the Sun as a reference point, and this from the prehistoric age. These early observers sought ways they could track the Sun’s movement through the sky. Rudimentary at first, the devices they made became increasingly sophisticated as civilisations evolved. The gnomon, the most primitive of these instruments, was nothing more than a stick made to stand upright in the ground. The length of the shadow it cast marked intervals of time during the day. These early attempts to measure time led to the sundial, whose fixed needle or style casts a shadow from the Sun onto a horizontal or vertical flat surface. This surface was inscribed with a scale to measure the passing day with greater precision. The sundial was, for a long time, one of the few objects which early civilisations could use to organise life within the community.

Invented by the Greeks and perfected by scholars in the Arabian Peninsula, the astrolabe was a more sophisticated device and is still seen as the most accomplished mathematical instrument of its day. It projects a representation of the sky at a given moment onto a plane surface. The astrolabe served numerous purposes, including to calculate when a star would pass at a given altitude.

From clock
to watch
14th - 16th Century
As time goes by

The vast majority of people during the lower Middle Ages lived in the countryside. Peasant farmers rose, toiled and went to bed to the sound of the church clock which day and night chimed the hours on bells. For centuries, church bells were the only indications of passing time.

The spring-driven portable clock

In the fourteenth century, a town of any importance invested substantial means in the construction of a turret clock as a symbol of its power, wealth and civilised state. These early feats inspired clockmakers to continue their efforts and convince wealthy private patrons of the benefits of measuring time.

As mechanisms became smaller, the clock entered the homes of a privileged few. Around 1410, the Italian architect Filippo Brunelleschi replaced the weights in certain domestic wall clocks with a spring. This was a major step forwards, thanks to which clocks could now be moved and also set down; the table clock was born. The privilege of an affluent and progressive elite, it could be no more precise than knowledge and techniques of the day allowed.

Achieving precision
16th - 18th Century
As time goes by

The instruments that measured time during the Renaissance were still only rudimentary. They were nonetheless elaborately decorated, an important attribute given that watches were carried as a visible sign of wealth. The invention of the sprung balance would be decisive in the development of precision timekeeping.

The “Haute Époque” watch and precision

The very first watches, known as “haute époque”, were worn on a cord or a chain, around the neck or pinned to the bosom. “Fantasy” watches appeared circa 1510. Their many and imaginative forms looked to animals and flowers for inspiration, or geometrical figures. These watches had only one hand to indicate the hours and were notoriously poor timekeepers. More jewel than timepiece, their lavish ornamentation distracted from the lack of technical innovation by the watchmakers of the day.

Horology turned a corner in 1657 with the discoveries of Christiaan Huygens of the Netherlands. Considered the father of precision timekeeping, he imagined a pendulum mechanism which considerably increased accuracy. The sprung balance he invented in 1675 improved the clock’s precision such that it was accurate to within a few minutes a day, compared to almost an hour previously. Such progress, coupled with a growing body of knowledge and more elaborate tools, meant ornamentation now took second place to the rapidly-evolving mechanism. The hour hand was joined by the minute hand then the seconds hand, soon followed by quarter then minute repeaters.

Achieving precision
16th - 18th Century
As time goes by

Whether enamelling, engraving, sculpture or gem-setting, the decorative arts in watchmaking reached an apogee during the Renaissance. The modern-day watch manufacturers which strive to preserve this expertise willingly acknowledge that we still have much to learn from our predecessors, and that certain skills have been lost for ever.

The triumph of Enamel

Enamelling has its roots in Geneva, and the city was renowned as the home of the finest craftsmen. They would contribute to the rise of the enamel painting for which Geneva was known. Magnificent pocket watches were richly decorated in champlevé or cloisonné enamel. Watches for the Chinese market abandoned their plain cases for sumptuous painted enamel scenes. This art, which evolved alongside mechanical innovations, produced ever more skilful realisations. By the second half of the eighteenth century, fondant or Geneva enamel - a technique in which the polychrome decoration is protected by a layer of colourless enamel - was the most coveted of all.

During the
Industrial Revolution
1790 - 1918
As time goes by

Horology is a child of astronomy. Indeed, precise time measurement was needed so that calculations could be made from observations of the stars and planets, if only to produce calendars. The Gregorian calendar in use in our societies is a solar calendar, devised in the late sixteenth century to correct discrepancies in the Julian calendar that preceded it, and which Julius Caesar introduced in 46 BCE. The Gregorian calendar became the standard calendar for countries around the world in the early twentieth century.

The astronomical clock

Most astronomical clocks were found inside important religious buildings. Their civic counterparts had no ecclesiastical calendar but did conserve functions such as moon phases, months and the zodiac. This was an era when princes, politicians and clergy would observe the position of the stars before consenting to any important decision, and the astronomical clock played an important role as an instrument of observation. Physicians in the late Middle Ages imagined horological devices which they consulted before performing surgery on their patient.

During the
Industrial Revolution
1790 - 1918
As time goes by

The Industrial Revolution took hold in Great Britain in the 1760s before spreading to the rest of Europe. Despite the handicaps of being a landlocked, mountainous country with few natural resources, Switzerland successfully industrialised in the 1800s-1820s. It did have the advantage of hydraulic power to drive the machines that were taking over factories and workshops, including in watchmaking.

The keyless watch

Watchmakers significantly increased their production using the mechanised means introduced by the Industrial Revolution, while standardised calibres benefited from interchangeable parts. In 1839, Vacheron Constantin hired Georges-Auguste Leschot to modernise its workshops. He fulfilled his mission thanks to machine tools which he developed exclusively for Vacheron Constantin. Leschot is recognised as one of the pioneers in the development of industrial watchmaking.

Swiss watchmaker Pierre-Frédéric Ingold can take credit for spreading this new concept on a much wider scale. When his ideas met with hostility from his compatriots and counterparts, he took his know-how to the United States where the development of machines that stamped gears, bridges and plates took America into the market with industrially-produced, standardised watches. Already, in around 1815, Ingold had invented a means of winding the mainspring by turning the case back, one of the very first attempts to do away with the winding key. Some three decades later, research by Jean-Antoine LeCoultre, Louis Audemars and Adrien Philippe resulted in a mechanism for winding and setting the time via the crown that would be widely adopted.

During the
Industrial Revolution
1790 - 1918
As time goes by

A chronograph, or chronoscope, is an instrument that measures the duration of an event. In everyday language, the word “chronometer” is oft en wrongly used to refer to a chronograph, whose name derives from the Greek meaning “to write time”. The invention of the chronograph was attributed to Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec, until the recent discovery of an instrument made by Louis Moinet, dating from 1816, which is now acknowledged as the first recorded chronograph.

The chronograph, a functional instrument

Come the early nineteenth century, following advances in areas such as astronomy and engineering, and as sporting competitions became more commonplace, the need arose for an instrument which could measure fractions of a second. A variety of solutions were proposed. After John Arnold’s unsuccessful attempts, the Parisian watchmaker Louis Moinet (1768-1853) imagined a device that could measure sixtieths of a second. He named his invention a compteur de tierces, a “tierce” or “third” being the sexagesimal subdivision of the hour after the minute and the second, used in astronomy. Moinet built his counter between 1815 and 1816, with the help of a watchmaker employed in the workshops of Abraham-Louis Breguet.

In 1821, Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec (1781-1866), clockmaker to the king, used a device of his invention to time horse races on the Champs de Mars in Paris. That same year he presented his machine before the Royal Academy of Science in Paris, describing it as a “timekeeper or distance counter”, although it was recorded in the Academy’s minutes as a “seconds chronograph”. In 1822 Rieussec secured a patent for his invention, which lived up to its name as it deposited a drop of ink on an enamel dial at the start and finish of each measured interval. This inking system was later discarded, giving rise to the chronoscope, first for the pocket and later worn on the wrist.

Watchmakers set to work perfecting the chronograph, first a simple mechanism then as a split-seconds version, and later with a hand that could be reset to zero. As they mastered the supply of energy to the mechanism, chronographs were able to measure longer and longer intervals, which they totalised on 12-hour and later 24-hour counters.

During the
Industrial Revolution
1790 - 1918
As time goes by

In the mid-1760s, Jean-Antoine Lépine developed a simplified mechanism with flat bridges that took his name. Watches fitted with this slimmer calibre were less bulky and therefore better suited to the close-fitting fashions of the day. The extra-thin watch was born, and continues to occupy many of today’s watchmakers.

Extra-thin and miniature watches

The fashion in the mid-nineteenth century was for extra-thin watches. Philippe Samuel Meylan built the “inverted” or “Bagnolet” calibre whose construction did not exceed 1.18 mm in height. Such a miniaturised mechanism fit easily inside a coin, transformed into a dress watch for the occasion. Three centuries earlier, a handful of watchmakers had already succeeded in fitting a watch inside a ring. Although small, the mechanisms inside these miniature timepieces had yet to achieve the thinness that followed in the mid-1800s.

During the
Industrial Revolution
1790 - 1918
As time goes by

Complications are almost as old as horology itself, as the very first devices to measure time incorporated astronomical functions. In watchmaking, a complication is a function in addition to the indication of the hours, minutes and seconds. These functions can be astronomical (for example moon phases, equation of time or perpetual calendar), practical (such as a chronograph, grande sonnerie or minute repeater), technical (e.g. instantaneous date, stop seconds) or intended to improve rate accuracy (tourbillon and karrusel).

Complications

New functions dictated by daily life were added to the watch. An alarm, a simple calendar with or without moon phases, a chronograph and time zones were manufactured using semi-industrialised or industrialised means, according to demand. These useful complications were joined by others which required a rare degree of expertise, such as an annual or perpetual calendar, a split-seconds chronograph, a tourbillon, repeaters, and a grande or petite sonnerie. They were presented individually, or several were assembled together inside an ultra-complicated watch.

During the
Industrial Revolution
1790 - 1918
As time goes by

In a letter dated 1488, Jacopo Trotti, ambassador at the court of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, wrote that the Duke had had three silk garments made that were adorned with striking watches. Less than a century later, in 1571 or 1572, the Earl of Leicester, Master of the Horse and favourite of Elizabeth I of England, gave the queen a gift of a round watch, incrusted with diamonds and suspended from an armlet. Historians consider this jewel to be the ancestor of the wristwatch.

The watch in the early twentieth century

The earliest watches to be worn on the wrist can be traced to the sixteenth century, as demonstrated by the “armlet” watch presented to Elizabeth I of England. The wristwatch would, however, truly come into its own as of the twentieth century. Watches worn on fabric straps which could be removed and hung around the neck had made a timid appearance in earlier decades. Still, it wasn’t before the turn of the century that certain watchmakers became convinced that this new art of wearing a watch, initially reserved for women, had a future. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of Rolex, was one of them.

Soon jewellers were using their talent to create future icons. Cartier, for example, designed its Santos watch in 1904 for the aviator Santos-Dumont, followed by the Tank watch in 1919. As lifestyles changed, with more people taking up sport or driving a car, men too were won over to the wristwatch in its masculine version. Already in the First World War, soldiers in the heat of battle had found it more practical to wear their timepiece on their wrist rather than carry it in their pocket.

From mechanical
to quartz
1920 - 2000
As time goes by

In terms of solidity, military watches paved the way. The very first timepiece to be developed specifically for the armed forces, and also the first to be produced in series, was a Girard-Perregaux watch, two thousand of which were dispatched to Emperor Wilhelm II in 1880 for issue to his naval officers. Its dial was protected by a metal grid, an ingenious idea that was soon taken up by Movado for its Waltham, Trench and Soldier models, and by Ingersoll for its Midget watch. Rolex also produced a Trench watch in 1914, although it was made for the civilian market.

The shock absorber

Significant advances were made in watchmaking between the two World Wars, including water-resistance and automatic winding. So as to protect the watch’s then fragile glass, in 1931 Jaeger-LeCoultre created the Reverso with its pivoting case, initially with polo players in mind. This was also the year tempered mineral glass and synthetic sapphire crystals were first made, both virtually unbreakable and almost impossible to scratch. Another major innovation of the period was the Swiss Incabloc® system, invented in 1933 to protect the mechanism from shocks.

From mechanical
to quartz
1920 - 2000
As time goes by

One of the first Swiss patents for a “waterproof” watch was filed on June 2nd 1893 by Achille Cella of Messina. Two rubber rings around the case middle and a small rubber tube around the winding stem sealed the case against dust and humidity. Protecting the mechanism against damp and dust was a major concern for watchmakers, and numerous other patents followed, each one a step closer to complete water-resistance.

Water-resistance and sport

The Rolex Oyster was the first series-produced wristwatch with both a waterproof case and crown. These groundbreaking characteristics were brought to the world’s attention in 1927 by Mercedes Gleitze’s cross-Channel swim, as newspapers of the day would report. Further progress came when four years later the Oyster incorporated a self-winding movement. After the Second World War, progress in aviation opened up new opportunities to travel, while advances in diving technology made underwater exploration a reality. Manufacturers responded with watches adapted to the specific needs of these new activities.

From mechanical
to quartz
1920 - 2000
As time goes by

It’s a well-known and no less symbolic story. In 1903, on hearing of Edmond Jaeger’s plan to manufacture extra-thin watches, Jacques-David LeCoultre in the Swiss town of Le Sentier was determined to take up the challenge. He jumped on his bicycle and pedalled the twenty kilometres to the nearest telephone, from where he called Paris. The collaboration and later friendship between the two men led to the founding of Jaeger-LeCoultre, officially launched in 1937. Just as importantly, it led to timepieces of particular significance in the history of watchmaking and notably extra-thin watches.

Post-war fashions and the ultra-thin watch

As the 1940s became the 1950s, watches adopted lighter, more gentle forms. Round or square, some with a case that was part of the bracelet, women’s watches took centre-stage. Appearance was all, to the point that some styles of bracelet reached iconic status. The “marquise” or “slave” bracelet, for example, was all the rage in the post-war years. Women’s watches were timepieces but also jewellery. Alongside the rigorous style of functional watches, elegance was captured in the extra-thin designs of the 1950s. Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Piaget and Vacheron Constantin were the uncontested masters of this style.

From mechanical
to quartz
1920 - 2000
As time goes by

In August 2013, physicists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the United States published details of their research into an experimental atomic clock with unprecedented accuracy, deviating by less than one second in 13.8 billion years... which is generally accepted to be the age of the universe. Its tick is ten times more stable than that of the best existing atomic clocks. The NIST clock is ten billion times more precise than a quartz watch.

The atomic clock, the ultimate measurement of time

Research carried out by Louis Essen resulted in the first caesium atomic clock, which came into operation in 1955. This alkali metal still ensures the most precise and stable functioning of atomic clocks. Today’s atomic clocks are accurate to around one second every three million years. Throughout the world, studies are conducted into alternatives to caesium, with the aim of achieving ten times greater precision in this ultimate measurement of time.

From mechanical
to quartz
1920 - 2000
As time goes by

With the quartz revolution brewing in the 1960s, Swiss watchmakers pooled their efforts within the Centre Électronique Horloger (CEH). Girard-Perregaux, however, wished to remain independent and develop a calibre for its sole use, and so launched its own research programme. In 1966 it set up an Electronic Research Division which was tasked with building a master clock, a table clock and then a wristwatch, all powered by quartz. Girard-Perregaux presented the wristwatch, the Elcron, at the Basel watch fair in 1970, at the same time as the CEH presented its quartz watches, equipped with the Beta 21 calibre. A year later, Girard-Perregaux launched a new watch with a quartz movement oscillating at 32,768 Hz. This became the standard frequency for a quartz calibre and is still in use today.

The first quartz watch

The first electrical pocket watch was unveiled in 1924, based on the work of Huguenard and Bonneuil. However, its battery was too large to be housed inside a case and so the project was shelved until the late 1940s when smaller batteries made further progress possible. In 1953, Max Hetzel, an engineer with Bulova, filed a patent for a wristwatch equipped not with a conventional balance and spring but a tuning fork. Hetzel’s innovation improved timekeeping accuracy by a significant degree. Industrial production was launched and the watch went on sale in 1960 as the Accutron.

Further developments followed in the Accutron’s wake. The Centre Électronique Horloger (CEH) in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, produced several prototype quartz wristwatches before bringing a model to market in 1970. By then, however, the Swiss electronic watch had lost too much ground to Asian production. Until, that is, the advent of the Swatch watch. This blend of plastic and electronics, launched in Europe in 1983, took the world by storm.

From mechanical
to quartz
1920 - 2000
As time goes by

Few complicated watches are as famed as the one Patek Philippe made in the early 1930s for the American banker Henry Graves. The Manufacture spent three years developing the watch and a further five years making it. Graves paid CHF 60,000 for the timepiece, which sold at auction in November 2014 for a record-breaking €19 million. Its mechanism comprises more than 900 parts and 24 complications: it was, for 56 years, the most complicated watch in the world.

The mechanical watch fights back

Having reached the limit of what their mechanisms could achieve, mechanical timepieces were unable to stand comparison with quartz in terms of precision. Forced to leave electronic watches to claim victory in the accuracy stakes, traditional watchmaking turned instead to the complications which had enhanced nineteenth-century pocket watches, but had rarely been developed for wristwatches. And so split-seconds chronographs, simple and perpetual calendars, moon phases, tourbillons and minute repeaters returned in the confines of the wristwatch, which took advantage of its dimensions and specificities to become a symbol of its wearer’s personality. Today’s grande complication wristwatches, to which every master watchmaker but also collector ultimately aspires, embody centuries of expertise as well as constant innovation.

Technical and
precious fine watches
2000 - Today
As time goes by

On the brink of disaster in the 1970s, Swiss watchmaking made a remarkable recovery from the crisis that swept the sector. Now positioned at the high end of the market, particularly mechanical watches, the industry was ideally placed when global demand for luxury products took off in the mid-1990s. With average annual growth of 7.2%, Swiss watch exports have shown themselves to be far more dynamic than the rest of the country’s exports these past ten years. The years 2010 to 2012 were particularly impressive as exports increased by double digits.

A series of factors helped prompt a revival in the culture of mechanical watches in the early 1980s. From the first wristwatch auctions to the opening of private museums, from the publication of reference works to the launch of specialist magazines, a surge in interest in mechanical watches brought proof of renewed vitality. Technical watches and precious watches came closer together, one complementing the other. Designers and engineers now worked side by side; jewellers became watchmakers. This context gave rise to the notion of “technical and precious fine watches”, confirmed in 2005 by the creation in Geneva of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, a circle of storied brands and young talent united by the same values.

Beginning in the 1980s, the watch became part of a global approach in which case, calibre and bracelet form a coherent whole. This concept, which attaches equal importance to mechanism and exterior, would open up new fields of expression and, at the same time, give new impetus to the artistic crafts which in the 1970s had been overshadowed by electronics. Quartz, or so it seemed, had rendered mechanical timekeeping obsolete, and traditional timepieces took this as their cue to focus on complications.

Technical and
precious fine watches
2000 - Today
As time goes by

On the brink of disaster in the 1970s, Swiss watchmaking made a remarkable recovery from the crisis that swept the sector. Now positioned at the high end of the market, particularly mechanical watches, the industry was ideally placed when global demand for luxury products took off in the mid-1990s. With average annual growth of 7.2%, Swiss watch exports have shown themselves to be far more dynamic than the rest of the country’s exports these past ten years. The years 2010 to 2012 were particularly impressive as exports increased by double digits.

A series of factors helped prompt a revival in the culture of mechanical watches in the early 1980s. From the first wristwatch auctions to the opening of private museums, from the publication of reference works to the launch of specialist magazines, a surge in interest in mechanical watches brought proof of renewed vitality. Technical watches and precious watches came closer together, one complementing the other. Designers and engineers now worked side by side; jewellers became watchmakers. This context gave rise to the notion of “technical and precious fine watches”, confirmed in 2005 by the creation in Geneva of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, a circle of storied brands and young talent united by the same values.

Beginning in the 1980s, the watch became part of a global approach in which case, calibre and bracelet form a coherent whole. This concept, which attaches equal importance to mechanism and exterior, would open up new fields of expression and, at the same time, give new impetus to the artistic crafts which in the 1970s had been overshadowed by electronics. Quartz, or so it seemed, had rendered mechanical timekeeping obsolete, and traditional timepieces took this as their cue to focus on complications.

Technical and
precious fine watches
2000 - Today
As time goes by

The 33 functions of the Calibre 89 by Patek Philippe were a crowning achievement. Cutting-edge technology brought the means to resolve previously insurmountable difficulties. R&D made its appearance within watchmaking companies; innovative mechanisms proposed ingenious juxtapositions of functions in movements with the added complexity of skeletonwork or ultra-thinness.

The combination of several complications in one mechanism set a new challenge, as the increased number of parts implied more points of friction, hence greater energy consumption and more complex lubrication. Master watchmakers were joined by mechanical engineers, IT engineers, mathematicians and metallurgists in this vast adventure. Specialised companies, universities and research institutes were brought in for their command of technology developed in the aerospace, aeronautic and automobile industries. Results were quick in coming. During the 2000s, the introduction of non-traditional materials, unconventional escapements, innovative stamping and cutting techniques, and research into high frequencies improved the watch’s reliability by a spectacular amount.

Through its associations with exclusivity and performance, the wristwatch became a badge of social status and personal achievement. Whether sporting in style, with astronomical complications, chimes, a tourbillon or universal hours, it echoes the personality of the man or woman who falls for its charm. Indeed, mechanical watches have never ceased to work their magic, and for good reason: of all man’s inventions, nothing has shaped the way we behave and influenced the course of science as much as mechanical timekeeping. For centuries it has both driven progress and benefited from it. The traditional watch was dealt a blow by quartz yet has returned stronger than ever because it now unites beauty and technique, the two faces of technical and precious fine watches.

Technical and
precious fine watches
2000 - Today
As time goes by

The 33 functions of the Calibre 89 by Patek Philippe were a crowning achievement. Cutting-edge technology brought the means to resolve previously insurmountable difficulties. R&D made its appearance within watchmaking companies; innovative mechanisms proposed ingenious juxtapositions of functions in movements with the added complexity of skeletonwork or ultra-thinness.

The combination of several complications in one mechanism set a new challenge, as the increased number of parts implied more points of friction, hence greater energy consumption and more complex lubrication. Master watchmakers were joined by mechanical engineers, IT engineers, mathematicians and metallurgists in this vast adventure. Specialised companies, universities and research institutes were brought in for their command of technology developed in the aerospace, aeronautic and automobile industries. Results were quick in coming. During the 2000s, the introduction of non-traditional materials, unconventional escapements, innovative stamping and cutting techniques, and research into high frequencies improved the watch’s reliability by a spectacular amount.

Through its associations with exclusivity and performance, the wristwatch became a badge of social status and personal achievement. Whether sporting in style, with astronomical complications, chimes, a tourbillon or universal hours, it echoes the personality of the man or woman who falls for its charm. Indeed, mechanical watches have never ceased to work their magic, and for good reason: of all man’s inventions, nothing has shaped the way we behave and influenced the course of science as much as mechanical timekeeping. For centuries it has both driven progress and benefited from it. The traditional watch was dealt a blow by quartz yet has returned stronger than ever because it now unites beauty and technique, the two faces of technical and precious fine watches.

From the origins
to the late
13th century
-2000 - 13th Century
1 - SILVER SUNDIAL
SIGNED PIERRE LEMAIRE, PARIS, EARLY 18TH C.
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
From clock
to watch
14th - 16th Century
2 - ROCAILLE TABLE CLOCK
ANONYMOUS, GERMANY, SECOND HALF OF THE 18TH C.
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Achieving precision
16th - 18th Century
3 - POCKET WATCH WITH ONE HAND AND HOUR STRIKE
GYLIS VAN GEELE, HOLLAND, 1585
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
4 - OCTAGONAL POCKET WATCH WITH ONE HAND
ANONYMOUS, BLOIS (FRANCE), FIRST HALF OF THE 17TH C.
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
5 - ROCK CRYSTAL PENDANT WATCH IN THE SHAPE OF A CROSS
MOVEMENT SIGNED WILHELM PFEFFENHAUSER AUGSBURG, CIRCA 1640
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
6 - QUARTER-REPEATER POCKET WATCH WITH INNER AND OUTER CASE
DECHARME, LONDON, 1760
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
7 - POCKET WATCH WITH ALARM
GOSSELIN, PARIS, CIRCA 1730
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
Achieving precision
16th - 18th Century
8 - PAIR OF POCKET WATCHES MADE FOR THE CHINESE MARKET
JUVET, LOUIS AND EDOUARD, FLEURIER (SWITZERLAND), CIRCA 1870
Musée L.U.CEUM - Traces du Temps, Chopard Manufacture S.A., Fleurier
9 - POCKET WATCH DECORATED WITH A BOUQUET OF FLOWERS ON A MAUVE BACKGROUND
BOVET, FLEURIER (SWITZERLAND), CIRCA 1830
Private Collection of BOVET FLEURIER SA
10 - ENAMELLED POCKET WATCH
ANONYMOUS, SWITZERLAND, CIRCA 1800
Musée d’Horlogerie du Locle - Château des Monts, Le Locle, Switzerland
During the
Industrial Revolution
1790 - 1918
11 - PLANETARY CLOCK
FRANÇOIS DUCOMMUN, LA CHAUX-DE-FONDS, 1830
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
During the
Industrial Revolution
1790 - 1918
12 - POCKET WATCH
ELGIN, USA, 19TH C.
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
13 - POCKET WATCH
WALTHAM, USA. 1880
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
14 - POCKET WATCH, INSIDE BACK COVER ENGRAVED N° 18246
INVENTED AND MADE BY PATEK PHILIPPE & CO IN GENEVA, 1861
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
15 - POCKET CHRONOMETER FOR TORPEDO BOAT
EDMOND JAEGER, LE SENTIER (SWITZERLAND), 1895
Patrimoine Jaeger-LeCoultre
16 - POCKET WATCH
SIGNED A. LANGE & SÖHNE/ GLASHÜTTE BEI DRESDEN, GLASHÜTTE (GERMANY), CIRCA 1875
A. Lange & Söhne Archive
During the
Industrial Revolution
1790 - 1918
17 - SPLIT-SECONDS POCKET CHRONOGRAPH WITH PULSOMETRIC SCALE
ZENITH, LE LOCLE (SWITZERLAND), 1901
Collection Historique Zenith, Branch of LVMH Swiss Manufactures SA
18 - POCKET CHRONOGRAPH WITH PULSOMETRIC SCALE
VACHERON CONSTANTIN, 1926
Patrimoine Vacheron Constantin
19 - SPLIT-SECONDS POCKET CHRONOGRAPH WITH JUMPING QUARTER-SECONDS
LÉOPOLD HUGUENIN, LE LOCLE (SWITZERLAND), CIRCA 1880
Musée d’Horlogerie du Locle - Château des Monts, Le Locle, Switzerland
20 - CONTEMPORARY REPLICA OF THE INKING CHRONOGRAPH
MADE BY NICOLAS MATHIEU RIEUSSEC IN 1821
Collection Historique Montblanc
During the
Industrial Revolution
1790 - 1918
21 - EXTRA-THIN POCKET WATCH WITH 24-HOUR DIAL
CARTIER, 1913
Collection Cartier
22 - RING-WATCH
ANONYMOUS, GENEVA, 1800
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
23 - EXTRA-THIN WATCH WITH ENAMELLED AND ENGRAVED DECORATION
TEROND ET RAVIER, GENEVA, 1840
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
24 - EXTRA-THIN POCKET WATCH
VACHERON CONSTANTIN, 1938
Patrimoine Vacheron Constantin
25 - COIN WATCH
PIAGET, 1964
Patrimoine Piaget
26 - EXTRA-THIN POCKET WATCH
LECOULTRE, 1895
Patrimoine Jaeger-LeCoultre
During the
Industrial Revolution
1790 - 1918
27 - GRANDE COMPLICATION POCKET WATCH
AUDEMARS PIGUET, 1895
Musée Audemars Piguet
28 - STRIKING POCKET WATCH
SIGNED BREGUET & FILS, PARIS, CIRCA 1820
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
29 - POCKET WATCH WITH ASTRONOMICAL INDICATIONS
ANONYMOUS, CIRCA 1820
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
30 - GRANDE COMPLICATION POCKET WATCH
JAEGER-LECOULTRE, 1905
Patrimoine Jaeger-LeCoultre
31 - GRANDE COMPLICATION POCKET WATCH
PATEK PHILIPPE GENÈVE BEYER SWISS, 1985
Musée d’Horlogerie du Locle - Château des Monts, Le Locle, Switzerland
During the
Industrial Revolution
1790 - 1918
32 - SANTOS WRISTWATCH
CARTIER, MODEL LAUNCHED IN 1911 (MODEL SHOWN FROM 1916)
Collection Cartier
33 - TANK WRISTWATCH
CARTIER, MODEL LAUNCHED IN 1919 (MODEL SHOWN FROM 1921)
Collection Cartier
34 - CONVERTIBLE BRACELET WATCH
WALTHAM, USA, POST-1915
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
35 - EARLY WRISTWATCH
ANONYMOUS, SWITZERLAND, CIRCA 1920
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
From mechanical
to quartz
1920 - 2000
36 - US SIGNAL CORPS WRISTWATCH WITH REMOVABLE GRID
ZENITH, LE LOCLE (SWITZERLAND), 1919
Collection Historique Zenith, Branch of LVMH Swiss Manufactures SA
37 - WRISTWATCH WITH COVER
CARTIER, 1926
Collection Cartier
38 - WRISTWATCH WITH APERTURES
AUDEMARS PIGUET, 1928
Musée Audemars Piguet
39 - SQUARE WRISTWATCH WITH SHUTTERS
VACHERON CONSTANTIN, 1930
Patrimoine Vacheron Constantin
40 - ERMETO PURSE WATCH
HERMÈS, CIRCA 1928
Conservatoire des Créations Hermès
41 - REVERSO WRISTWATCH
JAEGER-LECOULTRE, 1933
Patrimoine Jaeger-LeCoultre
From mechanical
to quartz
1920 - 2000
42 - EL PRIMERO WRIST CHRONOGRAPH
ZENITH, 1969-1970
Collection Historique Zenith, Branch of LVMH Swiss Manufactures SA
43 - NAVITIMER WRIST CHRONOGRAPH
BREITLING, 1960
Musée international d’horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
44 - WATER-RESISTANT WRISTWATCH
WALTHAM DÉPOLLIER, CIRCA 1920
Musée international d’horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
45 - WATER-RESISTANT BATHYSCAPH WRISTWATCH
ROLEX, 1960
Musée international d’horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
46 - MONACO WRIST CHRONOGRAPH
HEUER, 1969
Musée TAG Heuer 360
47 - LUMINOR MARINA MILITARE DIVE WRISTWATCH
OFFICINE PANERAI, CIRCA 1950
Officine Panerai Archives
48 - SPEEDMASTER PROFESSIONAL WRIST CHRONOGRAPH
OMEGA, AS OF 1968
Musée d’horlogerie du Locle - Château des Monts, Le Locle, Switzerland
From mechanical
to quartz
1920 - 2000
49 - WRISTWATCH WITH SLIDING COVER
CARTIER, 1954
Collection Cartier
50 - GALAXY WRISTWATCH
BAUME & MERCIER, 1973
Patrimoine Baume & Mercier
51 - SECRET WRISTWATCH
VAN CLEEF & ARPELS, 1953
Collection Van Cleef & Arpels
52 - EXTRA-THIN WRISTWATCH
AUDEMARS PIGUET, 1960
Musée Audemars Piguet
53 - EXTRA-THIN WRISTWATCH
VACHERON CONSTANTIN, 1954
Patrimoine Vacheron Constantin
54 - EXTRA-THIN WRISTWATCH
PIAGET, 1969
Patrimoine Piaget
From mechanical
to quartz
1920 - 2000
55 - RUBIDIUM ATOMIC CLOCK
TEMEX NEUCHÂTEL TIME SA, 1995
Musée d’Horlogerie du Locle - Château des Monts, Le Locle, Switzerland
From mechanical
to quartz
1920 - 2000
56 - BETA 21 WRISTWATCH
FAR, SWITZERLAND, CIRCA 1969
Musée d’Horlogerie du Locle - Château des Monts, Le Locle, Switzerland
57 - VENTURA WRISTWATCH
HAMILTON, USA, 1962
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
58 - QUARTZ WRISTWATCH
GIRARD-PERREGAUX, 1970
Musée Girard-Perregaux, La Chaux-de-Fonds
59 - POP SWATCH QUARTZ WRISTWATCH
CIRCA 1990
Musée d’Horlogerie du Locle - Château des Monts, Le Locle, Switzerland
60 - KINETIC WRISTWATCH
SEIKO, JAPAN, 1996
Musée International d’Horlogerie, La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland
From mechanical
to quartz
1920 - 2000
61 - ROYAL OAK WRISTWATCH
AUDEMARS PIGUET, 1972
Musée Audemars Piguet
62 - STAR WHEEL WRISTWATCH
AUDEMARS PIGUET, 1991
Musée Audemars Piguet
63 - HAPPY DIAMONDS WRISTWATCH
CHOPARD, 1976
Musée Chopard & Cie S.A., Geneva
64 - L DESTRIERO SCAFUSIA GRANDE COMPLICATION WRISTWATCH
IWC, 1993
IWC Museum
65 - FERRARI S.F FOUDROYANTE SPLIT-SECONDS WRIST CHRONOGRAPH
GIRARD-PERREGAUX, 1999
Musée Girard-Perregaux, La Chaux-de-Fonds
Technical and
precious fine watches
2000 - Today
66 - A. LANGE & SÖHNE - LANGE 1
Hours, minutes, small seconds with stop seconds, instantaneous large date, power-reserve indicator. Manual-wind movement.
67 - AUDEMARS PIGUET - MILLENARY CARBON ONE
Hours, minutes, chronograph, tourbillon, power-reserve indicator. Plate in isotropic carbon for mechanical, physical and chemical stability. Manual-wind movement.
68 - BAUME & MERCIER - CLIFTON 10060
Hours, minutes, small seconds. Manual-wind movement.
69 - BOVET 1822 - AMADEO FLEURIER MONSIEUR BOVET
Hours, minutes, double co-axial seconds, reversed hand-fitting, power-reserve indicator. Amadeo convertible case, transforming into a desk clock, pocket watch or reversible wristwatch. Manual-wind movement.
70 - CARTIER - ROTONDE DE CARTIER ASTROTOURBILLON CARBON CRYSTAL WATCH
Hours, minutes, seconds on the tourbillon. Carbon crystal escapement that does not require regulation or lubrication. Manual-wind movement.
71 - CHANEL - J12 RÉTROGRADE MYSTÉRIEUSE
Hours, minutes, case and bracelet in High-Tech ceramic, tourbillon at 9 o’clock, retractable winding crown set in the dial at 3 o’clock, retrograde minutes from the 11th to the 19th minute, when minutes are displayed in an aperture at 6 o’clock. Manual-wind movement.
Technical and
precious fine watches
2000 - Today
72 - CHOPARD - L.U.C 8HF POWER CONTROL
Hours, minutes, small seconds, date in an aperture, power-reserve indicator. COSC certified. Self-winding movement.
73 - CHRISTOPHE CLARET - DUALTOW
Hour and minute display on belts, small seconds on the tourbillon at 6 o’clock, monopusher chronograph, striking mechanism to indicate function change (start, stop, reset), chronograph operating mode and power-reserve indications. Manual-wind movement.
74 - DE BETHUNE - DB28ST
Hours, minutes, central jumping seconds, tourbillon with 30-second indication, power-reserve indicator. Manual-wind movement.
75 - GIRARD-PERREGAUX CONSTANT ESCAPEMENT L.M.
Hours, minutes, seconds, linear power reserve, constant escapement. Manual-wind movement.
76 - GREUBEL FORSEY - DOUBLE TOURBILLON 30° TECHNIQUE BLACK
Hours, minutes, small seconds, double 30° tourbillon, power-reserve indicator. Manual-wind movement.
77 - HERMÈS - ARCEAU LE TEMPS SUSPENDU
Hours, minutes, retrograde date, mechanism that suspends time on demand then instantly returns to the exact time. Self-winding movement.
78 - IWC - PORTUGIESER ANNUAL CALENDAR
Hours, minutes, annual calendar with month, date and day in apertures, small hacking seconds, power-reserve indicator. Self-winding movement.
Technical and
precious fine watches
2000 - Today
79 - JAEGER-LECOULTRE - DUOMÈTRE À QUANTIÈME LUNAIRE
Hours, minutes, seconds, jumping stop seconds with zero reset, date, age and phases of the moon for both hemispheres, power-reserve indicators. Manual-wind movement.
80 - LOUIS VUITTON - TAMBOUR SPIN TIME
Time shown on cubes over 24 hours by the simultaneous rotation of two shafts. On each hour, the cube showing the previous hour becomes blank and the next cube displays the current hour on its visible side. Minutes by hand, central GMT hand, date in an aperture. Self-winding movement.
81 - MONTBLANC - HERITAGE SPIRIT PERPETUAL CALENDAR
Hours, minutes, perpetual calendar, moon phases. Self-winding movement.
82 - OFFICINE PANERAI - LUMINOR 1950 8 DAYS GMT
Hours, minutes, small seconds, date in an aperture, second time zone over 24 hours, linear power-reserve indicator, seconds reset. Manual-wind movement.
83 - PARMIGIANI FLEURIER - TONDA HEMISPHERES
Hours, minutes, small seconds, date in an aperture, day/night indicator, second time zone with day/night indication. Self-winding movement.
84 - PIAGET - ALTIPLANO 38 MM 900P
Off-centred hours and minutes. Extra-thin manual-wind movement.
Technical and
precious fine watches
2000 - Today
85 - RALPH LAUREN - AUTOMOTIVE SKELETON
Hours, minutes, small seconds. Manual-wind movement.
86 - RICHARD MILLE - RM 033
Hours, minutes. Self-winding movement.
87 - ROGER DUBUIS - EXCALIBUR DOUBLE TOURBILLON SKELETON
Hours, minutes, double tourbillon with differential. Poinçon de Genève certified. Manual-wind movement.
88 - TAG HEUER - MONACO V4
Hours, minutes and small seconds driven by belts. Linear self-winding movement.
89 - VACHERON CONSTANTIN - MALTE TOURBILLON OPENWORKED
Hours, minutes, small seconds on the tourbillon, date, power-reserve indicator. Poinçon de Genève certified. Manual-wind movement.
90 - VAN CLEEF & ARPELS - LADY ARPELS FÉERIE
Retrograde hours and minutes. Manual-wind movement.
The Mastery of Time
Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milano
April 15 - June 14, 2015
-2000 - 13th Century
14th - 16th Century
16th - 18th Century
1790 - 1918
1920 - 2000
2000 - Today
End of the Tour
From the origins to
the late 13th Century
From clock
to watch
Achieving
precision
During the
industrial revolution
From mechanical
to quartz
Technical and precious
fine watches
The Mastery of Time
      book
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