Furlan Marri teamed with two fantastic watchmakers, Dominique Renaud and Julien Tixier, to create a special unique piece for the Only Watch 2023 charity auction. Since the Furlan Marri X Dominique Renaud X Julien Tixier Secular Perpetual Calendar is the first piece featured on this platform, I asked Andrea Furlan some questions.
Only Watch is an honour and a big commitment for any brand, but especially for a small independent… What led to this decision?
About a year ago we had a chat with Luc Pettavino. We had just started the company, so we felt it was too early. We are in our second year now, and I get a call from Luc saying that our brand has been accepted for the Only Watch Auction. Of course, we would be happy to create a watch for the Auction. But it wasn’t going to be something simple. We wanted also to make something great to honor what Luc, Tess and the team are doing for this important cause. That’s why we were thinking of a particular complication we could develop. We had only a few months. No pressure.
You chose a desired but rather difficult complication. Why a perpetual calendar? Can you also explain the “secular” perpetual calendar complication?
Indeed, the perpetual calendar complication is already quite difficult, and we were going to develop something that has never been done before. That’s why we teamed up with Dominique Renaud, co-founder of the Renaud & Papi manufacture and with Julien Tixier, a young talented watchmaker who does everything from A to Z (even the axis) in his atelier near La Vallée de Joux. The secular perpetual calendar project is a project with a human dimension, made possible with the passion and friendship of all involved. I worked with Dominique Renaud for about 4 years on a very complex project called DR01 Twelve First, a watch with a new type of technology without a balance wheel. I knew that Dominique had made a perpetual calendar pocket watch as one of his very first projects. He had entirely conceived it himself, even engraved himself, and when he showed this piece to Günter Blümlein from IWC (later Lange & Söhne), he signed his first contract. It is a nice story to tell, as Dominique has more than 35 years of experience with complications. Going back to our project, the secular perpetual calendar is something different from a perpetual calendar. This rare complication encompasses all the variations of our Gregorian calendar, surpassing the classic perpetual calendar in terms of precision. Indeed, the perpetual calendar, though a fascinating complication in its own right, comes with certain limitations. If leap years are taken into account, secular years (one secular year = 100 years) are not.
What were the main difficulties you were confronted with in the creation of this piece? How is it different from a more traditional QP?
The main difficulty lay in simplifying something complex and in improving on something the industry had already been great at for many, many years. It was a challenge, but Furlan Marri, Dominique Renaud and Julien Tixier were committed to meeting it. All within just a few months. The difficulty was also to make something clear, visible and easy to assemble. That’s why we made a few changes like, for example, the 12 months that are on the outside of the circle and not on a counter. Thanks to a 12-month cam, the months are visible from far; the other idea was to have a peripheral adjustment with just one pusher at 6 o’clock instead of a lot of buttons around the case. It’s easier, more straightforward to assemble, and the case has an improved structural integrity. The module is just 1.25mm thick, which is actually super thin, and we patented it. The total thickness is 11.3mm. To respond more in depth to your question as to the difference, with a traditional perpetual calendar, an adjustment is necessary to correct the secular and leap years – every 100 years. The secular perpetual calendar, on the other hand, accounts for both leap and secular years. The next secular year is 2100. The secular perpetual calendar complication will ‘know’ that this is a special year and therefore automatically pass from February 28th, 2100, to March 1st, 2100 – whereas the date change on a classic perpetual calendar would be from February 28th to February 29th, considering it a leap year. The secular perpetual calendar complication, quite complex, as its name implies, has until now defied simplification.
What does this piece mean to you? A dream come true, the next big step…
Both! It’s also the first piece of what will lead to our Technical Line in the future. Now we will have 3 distinctive watch lines: the Mecaquartz Line, the Mechanical Line and the Technical Line – all with affordable complications (we have another patent pending, but let’s keep that a surprise). This unique piece for Only Watch is the first piece of our short history, just in our 2nd year for the brand and it’s an important moment. This piece is made entirely by hand, by passionate craftsmen, even the case in silver has been turned and machined by Julien Tixier in his workshop. Thanks to Dominique’s experience and guidance in the world of complications, we were able to put our heads together and find a way to simplify a complex complication.
It is common for a piece present at Only Watch to be followed by a “civilian” version afterwards. Can the collectors hope and dream of having similar pieces after Only Watch?
Yes, absolutely! This piece will be the first of our Technical Line. It is a unique piece, made by hand and every part has been designed from scratch. The engravings are done by hand, by Coralie Mercier, and the silver bracelet is by Laurent Jolliet, every single link handcrafted in Geneva, Switzerland. So, Hamad – my partner in this venture – and I want to thank Dominique, Julien, Sébastien (our technical consultant) and Camille (sales & marketing Manager) for everything they did to make this possible! And it’s only the beginning of a totally new and creative adventure for us.