Watchmaking: It's not just about making watches you know

Watchmaking: It's not just about making watches you know

Although we at The Watch Press are dizzy about the new timepieces which break cover for the first time around this time of year, and are quite literally faced with the dilemma of which piece to focus on for our latest original article, I happened to notice a quite enchanting little fellow earlier this week and, nevermind the fact that you cannot tell the time from it - even to the nearest hour, or day for that matter - it does richly deserve a piece here on our pages.

Master watchmaker Raúl Pagès

We are talking about a modern take on a classic idea, because the piece is a true automaton, and is the result of a full year's work by master watchmaker Raúl Pagès, a finger-sure genius based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, who brought his little friend along with him to this year's SIHH in Geneva and then (most likely..) stepped back and watched the reaction to it.

You see the device in question is a beautiful little mechanical tortoise - La Tortue Automaton - painstakingly made by hand in polished and satin-finished white gold and sporting the most hypnotic multi-shaded blue enamelling on it's shell. It's sole purpose in life is to delight, as it slowly and steadily make it's way across some highly polished surface, seemingly 'walking' along on it's little legs, it's neck and head with sapphire eyes gently weaving from side to side as it goes.

With all of the best conjury, there is a little secret behind the magic; even though the little chap appears to walk on his diamond-toed feet, the actual motion happens through the use of a special gearing mechanism which rotates an axle and the tiny attached wheels, concealed on the underside of the tortoise (see reflection below) and which are powered by a spectacularly beautifully finished hand-made key-wound mechanical movement, which is revealed upon opening the shell.

Below are a few images showing parts of the creation process, including the application of that stunning blue enamel and an insight into the moving legs and neck layout.

The Tortue Automaton by Raúl Pagès is a 'pièce unique' so once it has found a new home, few will ever get to lay eyes on it. However, I'm sure Monsieur Pagès will most likely find himself a busy man as his marvellous creations will be sought after by many of those for whom price is not an issue - very nice work Raúl!

With new timepieces being unveiled every day, particularly at this time of year, it would be so easy to miss something as beautiful as La Tortue Automaton by Raúl Pagès.

More reading here in Sylvia's article on the Automates & Merveilles Exhibition 2012.

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