To use a fishing analogy, "the one that got away" - this timepiece from last year almost did. Almost escaped my scrutiny that is, almost didn't make it into our archives. I remember it being presented to the public at Basel last year - pristinely plain, yet extraordinarily beautiful. I remember its maker's unique journal of images, shared with the world so we too could enjoy the stages of its creation - and, I remember it being featured by fellow-bloggers throughout the year, fleeting glimpses of its immaculate face. All were seemingly captivated by it and no wonder - it is magnificent.
Recently I viewed an uploaded image of this watch. Only six months had gone by since the piece had left the watchmaker's hand yet with its already mellowed patina, it was so throroughly thalassic that it captured the very essence of the sea. The watch was the Thomas Prescher Nemo Sailor.
I find myself both disconcerted and impressed by the simplicity of the Nemo Sailor watch, given the précis of its maker, Thomas Prescher is after all an extremely accomplished Master Watchmaker. An AHCI candidate since 2003, he presented to the world that year the first double-axis tourbillon pocketwatch. In 2004 came the ultimate follow-up, a superb trio of tourbillons - single, double-axis and triple-axis, all flying, all with constant-force mechanisms. His years since have seen the creation of an assortment of treasures of hierloom-worthy status, the pushbutton activated Tempusvivendi and Sculptura Una, the QP1 a perpetual calendar with one of the most uncluttered and readable dials you will ever come across in this genre, and the last word in horological trickery - the Mysterious Automatic Double Axis Tourbillon. All are pieces so effectual that each is deserving of its own written article.
A glance through the comprehensive portfolio of Thomas Prescher reveals a theme - that of Nautica. Look beyond the complexity and the exquisiteness and you will find port-hole style views of supremely crafted tourbillons, compass needle indications, inspiration taken from ship's gauges, engine telegraphs and barometers. For Mr. Prescher, although smitten by watches from an early age was not always a watchmaker, having began an early career as a Naval Officer, he left six years later as a Captain, taking with him skills which would serve him well in civilian life - discipline, persuit of perfection and a love of the sea.
Thomas Prescher states that "A picture is worth a thousand words", and so began the Time Capsule Project, a chance for enthusiasts to become part of, and enjoy the process of the creation of the Nemo Collection. If as a young child you enjoyed tales of exploration, adventurism and exploration then boys - this story is for you. It is fictional yet so authentic that many who followed it thought (or wished) it was true. Its climactic discovery by the diver as he used his last reserve of oxygen and energy to clear the dirt from the name plate of an unknown metal object on the sea floor, revealing the name "Nautilus" leads to Thomas becoming involved in the role of both consultant and watchmaker, charged with the task of using ancient plans and components found onboard to recreate the timepieces which the crew of the Nautilus may have worn. Of course, a good Captain will always prioritise the needs of his crew, so naturally the first piece in the collection was designed with the Sailors of the crew in mind.
The materials used to construct the Nemo Sailor have been cleverly and thoughtfully chosen with the future appearance of the piece in mind. The lugs and front and back bezels are made from saltwater resistant copper bronze, the dial is created from steel and the contrast between the two is outstanding. The plates on the dial and case are made from soft copper. This may be an entry piece in this new collection, but it is no less meticulously crafted than other Thomas Prescher timepieces, with hand-crafting as standard.
Of course, the name plates and the porthole-esque bezel are purely pelagic, but they are subtle too. Worthy of attention are the quite beautiful, almost playful hands and the open-worked and Art Nouveau inspired rotor. For me, the valve-shaped crown clinches it - this is a truly splendid piece.
The Thomas Prescher Nemo Sailor is a 25 piece limited edition but still to come are the Nemo Captain which will feature a domed crystal to accommodate one of the watchmaker's speciality tourbillons and the Nemo Officer, reported to be a Tempusvivendi with a few suprises - brilliant!
More information at the official Thomas Prescher website.
And via IndependentInTime the "Nemo with the Patina".