During the AuroChronos Festival, I got the chance to meet Holke Dijkman, the creator of the VERSUM Watch. The Dijkman VERSUM is an interesting piece of time-measuring machinery, especially since the watch’s movement is transformed to display the time on the back. Let’s discover together the ingenious system.
I have to admit, I saw this piece on the cover of the AuroChronos posters and it gained fast my interest. The countless display of gears intrigued me. Let’s have a look at the video first, to understand better how this watch is built. Please note that the piece was photographed during the Festival, being the show model.
The VERSUM is the idea and creation of Holke Dijkman – a Dutch watchmaker. Mr Dijkman worked for Christiaan van der Klaauw Astronomical Watches being in charge of calculating gear transfers and making prototypes of astronomical pieces. An impressive work experience, I would say. Here a link to his “About me” page.
A watch with a twist
The VERSUM idea is not new – to reverse a movement and display the time on the back of the movement. The main problem to be solved is to make the hands rotate in the “clockwise” direction. For this, Mr Dijkman uses a compelling system of gears.
One can clearly notice the intricate work, a good witness of Mr Dijkman’s experience as a tooling specialist.
The 42mm stainless steel case features a three-part construction. All the elements are polished.
A closer look will reveal the manual tooling marks of the case. These signs of the manual work are not visible to the naked eye, in the normal light condition. The evidence of how the VERSUM is manufactured makes it more attractive to a certain type of collectors in search for independent pieces.
The crown’s size is nicely balanced with the case. Its design reminds of a gear wheel with imposing teeth. The “gear’s” interior is hammered. The crown fits perfectly the theme of the VERSUM.
The most spectacular view of the VERSUM is offered by the dial side. Having a look without having an explanation could be frustrating: several gears for time display and a balance wheel. Balance wheel on the top?
The balance wheel viewed on the face of the VERSUM is actually the back side of an ETA/UNITAS 6497 movement. That means, that the back of the VERSUM watch actually shows the dial side of the 6497 calibre and the gear system to bring the time indication to the other side.
Besides the complicated gearing, the VERSUM’s backside features another time indication with an arrow tip and a decorative circle with cut-outs as indexes.
The VERSUM’s time indication is realised using two arrowheads. These are lacquered since a thermal blueing is impossible due to the variation of the mass. The trials have shown an uneven distribution of the colour during the heating process, lacquering remaining one of the options.
For the indexes, VERSUM uses two concentrical brushed disks. A lower, wider disk bears the hour’s Arabic numerals. A second raised disk, marked as a rail track serves as a minutes indication.
The VERSUM is available with a silver dial and with a champagne dial. The hands can be lacquered in several colour options.
The good, the bad and the ugly
The Dijkman VERSUM is, without any doubt, a valuable proposal. The concept is implemented in a beautiful, architectural way. The multi-depth front offers a view rarely seen in a dial – considering that this is not a skeletonised movement, but rather an open worked dial with direct view to the back side of a 6497 movement. The watchmaker’s side of 6497 (the part that is usually under the dial itself) is also on display on the back of the watch with another display of the time (carefully, not a second-time-zone).
The ETA/UNITAS 6497 is a robust movement that can be easily serviced. I don’t think that even with the modification, the VERSUM will cause any problems in time. Mr Dijkman is an excellent artisan and specialist. An open question remains if the accuracy is affected by the plurality of gears needed for the modifications.
The watch construction is qualitative high. As a fanatic of horological finishes, I wished a bit more haute horlogerie finishes: polished gears and polished chamfering. But I cannot deny the beauty of the watch and the fact that I wish one just like it is… Especially since my wishes in term of finishes will raise the price of the watch with a minimum of ten times.
For more information, please visit the Dijkman Official Website.