Although I am familiar with the name of Beat Haldimann, the much-revered master watchmaker from Thun, I will confess to never actually having taken time to explore what goes on in his own atelier - and what comes out of it too. Well, having read a press release received today, I decided that it was time to put that right.
Beat Haldimann's fascination with watchmaking began as a youngster and thankfully this interest would evolve into a career, first as a teenaged apprentice in the workshop of a local watchmaker where he became versed in the repair and restoration of 'new and old masterpieces' while simultaneously studying to complete his watchmaking training at college and eventually as proprietor of Haldimann Horology, established in 1991 specializing in commissions and restorations. A further two years in college saw Beat emerge as Swiss Federal Graduate with the title Master Horologist.
So what I have found here is a very successful young (well, 46 is young enough from where I'm sitting) master watchmaker and visionary, who has clearly read all the books on horology and then apparently thrown any of them which dictated how a watch should be straight out of the window of his lakeside mansion/atelier!
For the watches made here are like no others and most certainly not for the passive watchbuyer. His latest creation, due to be presented at Baselworld 2010, the H8 Sculptura is a fine example in that it is an exercise in horology yet would serve little value to the customer who wants his watch to actually tell the time - this one doesn't fully perform that function, but wow, it truly is a thing of rare beauty.
The Beat Haldimann H8 Sculptura stands out - literally - from it's peers, and that's only to be fully appreciated when first viewed, as there, placed centrally where one would expect to find the hands, is the quite magnificent flying one-minute tourbillon, seemingly floating above the otherwise unblemished dial. The search for hidden hour and minutes hands to read the time proves fruitless as there are none! This piece is not about being able to tell the time, rather it is a study in time as a movement and as such, hands have been seen as surplus to requirements.
So, if the Haldimann H8 Sculptura doesn't tell the time, what does it do? Why is it with us at all? Well, according to the Haldimann atelier's official scribe, Valentin Blank, the H8 Sculptura is a little glimpse at the philosophy of it's creator in that his expression in the piece is that it is not strictly a watch, but rather a portable personal piece of horologic art - a sculpture in fact.
Like an artefact in a glass case in a museum, the tourbillon can be viewed from any angle thanks to the low level of the bezel and the convex crystal which is like a domed glass ceiling above, and it is then that the mastery in Haldimann's complication can be appreciated, indeed how it was meant to be appreciated. There is nothing else on the surface of the dial to distract one's attention, not even a marker or manufacturer's ident, just this mesmerising and hypnotizing, whizzing yet so dignified flying tourbillon reflecting off the dial above which it performs it's 60-second pirouette.
The H8 Sculptura is available in 39 or 42mm platinum case by order with collection in person from the hands of Beat Haldimann himself at the atelier itself!
|Movement||Hand-wound, H.Zen-H calibre Central flying tourbillon with three barrels, 18,000 vib/h, hand-engraved|
|Case||Platinum, 39 or 42 mm Convex sapphire crystal Sapphire back Water resistant to 30 m|
|Dial||Black Central flying tourbillon|
|Bracelet/Strap||Black hand-sewn alligator with platinum clasp or buckle|