The Sauterelle. A name which first came to our attention at The Watch Press when we covered a gorgeous concept piece from GR Lang's Chronoswiss company some years back and which, under temporary license from the holder of the rights to the name, was to carry that name for it's debut at Baselworld.
Sadly, due in some part to the trials of surviving challenging times at that company, the watch in question never quite made it to production. A pity, because it was a very clever concept and a damn fine watch to boot. However, it's an ill wind that blows no good, and earlier this year the man to whom Chronoswiss turned to create this innovation, owner of the trademarked name Sauterelle and 'mere watchmaker' (as he has described himself!) - or long-standing AHCI member and watchmaker extraordinaire (as anyone else would call him) Andreas Strehler unveiled his own true Sauterelle - the watch he had originally set out to design and create by and for himself.
The resulting Andreas Strehler Sauterelle is beyond beautiful. The profound complication executed with the same apparent 'ease' as the deft moves of a world class athlete on their way to championship victory; that unique ability which is made to look so easy and accessible - until you attempt it yourself! And so the Sauterelle is very much alive, and entirely in keeping with the work of a watchmaker who views his movements as organic living entities which ultimately grow into the watch - something for which he was formally recognised in his being awarded the Prix Gaïa recently for "his ingenious, minimalistic mechanical movements which are conceived like true living organisms" - as the word 'Sauterelle' translates exactly as 'Grasshopper.'
The Sauterelle tackles the age-old problem of the delivery of regulated energy throughout the cycle of the mainsprings delivery of power as it goes from fully wound (where it can be too enthusiastic and therefore releases too much energy) to the point where it approaches the end of its reserve (where it releases too little). The pursuit of the solution to this problem has been addressed (and very much continues to be) by the use of Force Constante or by Chain Fusée to administer the regulated output of energy, but the Andreas Strehler Sauterelle adopts a different and elegant approach by positioning his regulating remontoir d'égalité using a small seconds wheel with satellite arm (and functional seconds indicator) jumping through 6° with each release of the star shaped spur in a deadbeat motion, and hairspring which derives its charge from the neighbouring twin mainsprings every second, and dispenses its identical 'shots' of energy through the escapement to the balance in equal one-second increments throughout the mainsprings power reserve.
Mr Strehler explained the principle of his complication to me: "My Sauterelle mechanism is a technical solution to have a superior constant force in a wristwatch movement. The solution I introduced is not limited to work with only one frequency - like all the other solutions - it works with every frequency you would like. The dead beat second is only a result!"
Very clever for sure, but concealing such a technical feat beneath a solid dial, however beautiful, would be a shame and so integrating and creating a feature of the complication by displaying its workings through tasteful openings on the superbly appointed hand guilloché solid silver dial with contrasting oxidized blue steel hands, really sets off the piece and underlines the watchmakers accomplishment here.
Viewed through the sapphire exhibition caseback, Andreas Strehlers meticulous attention to detail is revealed. The two barrels are secured into place on the skeletonised wings of the Papillon bridge, and like the bridge the gear wheels too have been stripped back to the bone; the absence of bare metals in a way demystifying the conjury taking place within the movement by deceptively appearing to be almost simplistic and spacious at first glance.
Offered in a choice of rose gold or platinum case and presented on a hand stitched alligator leather strap, the Andreas Strehler Sauterelle was one of the stars of SalonQP this year, his 10:1 scale remontoir d'égalité model a wonderful device providing a fascinating larger-than-life demonstration of the concept, and the Prix Gaïa award a fitting recognition for a master at work.