I have met John-Mikael Flaux at AHCI booth in 2019. I was intrigued by his vision of horological machines. As an independent watchmaker and AHCI candidate, his work promises a lot. He just sent me the info regarding his latest creation – “Le Guépard” (The Cheetah). Please have a look at the integral press release below.
John-Mikael Flaux is an independent watchmaker, creator and AHCI candidate based in Besançon (France).
He specializes in artistic and horological mechanics, aiming at giving his creations an artistic, poetic and fantastic dimension. His creations include the Wasp, the Car Clock and Time Fury P18 (racing car clocks), the automaton The Duel (a fight between two mechanical fencers) and the Cheetah (his take on a passing strike mechanism with on-demand repetition).
After 6 years of horological training at the Lycée Edgar Faure in Morteau, John-Mikael Flaux was awarded a gold medal at the French national Best Apprentice competition (Un des meilleurs ouvriers de France).
In 2012, he was recruited by the Swiss watchmaking company Ulysse-Nardin and started working on grand complication watches. In 2014, he created the Wasp, whose mechanism is based on the insect’s shape. He then became one of the brand’s official designers.
In 2015, he created the Super-Catamaran table clock for Ulysse-Nardin, a unique piece and bona fide “concept clock” inspired by the racing boats ( Basel 2016).
In 2018, he opened his own atelier as an independent watchmaker and creator in France.
While the world of horology increasingly industrializes and production units gradually leave France, French watchmakers still make it a point of honor to perpetuate their craft with attentive care. John-Mikael places himself in line with this French craft philosophy, respectful of traditional skills.
Story of creation: The CHEETAH by John-M. Flaux
How it all started
My original idea was to fuse together watch mechanisms with insects, animals or machines: in short, to make different worlds meet. I find that the mechanisms are completely transformed by their association with an animal or a machine.
With the Cheetah, I wanted to explore a fusion between animal and clockwork, but also a race against time. I chose the cheetah because it’s an animal I love: it’s very elegant and athletic, the fastest animal on earth.
Unfortunately, it’s now an endangered species.
To express all these ideas, I set my mind on a mechanism with a passing strike. It’s a complex, visually and acoustically interesting mechanism, but also a symbolic reminder of the passage of time. You can choose not to look at the clock, but you’ll always hear it ring.
I’ve worked on this cheetah and clockwork fusion without compromise. I designed each of the pieces so that they would all have a technical role as well as an aesthetic one. The cheetah’s outline is entirely determined by the clock’s mechanism.
Think of it as a striking complication and a cheetah, fused together. The mechanism sets every part of the cheetah in motion, in a hybrid, mechanical-animal show.
The background was painted by artist Line Descombes. This celestial painting is a symbolic image of my creative universe. Each one of these constellations represents a world to explore, each one with its own, almost infinite possibilities. Midnight blue is also a reference to blue-tempered steel often used in watchmaking. It goes perfectly with the mechanism’s brushed steel and golden brass. On the right-hand side, Line painted dawn. To me, it represents hope for the cheetah’s future, while it’s still facing extinction.
Ultimately, this cheetah represents a race against time, against limits, and against its own extinction. The only way to win this race is to use the time we have to fulfil our dreams.
Abstract & Technical description – The CHEETAH by John-M. Flaux – Striking a poetic note
The Cheetah is a unique table clock with a passing strike complication. It takes its identity from the complication’s aesthetic shape, which is modeled on the outline of a running cheetah. Each piece of the striking-work plays an aesthetic role in the cheetah’s composition. Think of it as an hour-strike fused together with a cheetah. The mechanism sets every part of the cheetah in motion, in a hybrid, mechanical-animal show. The passing strike mechanism can also be repeated by pushing the tail.
Features “Le Guépard” (The Cheetah)
• 205 pieces
• Poetic striking complication
• Passing striking mechanism, with repetition on demand
• Repetition on demand actuated by the Cheetah’s tail
• 1 month to hand-craft and assemble
• Celestial picture, acrylic paint on brass
• Painted by artist Line Descombes
• Traditional horological materials: tempered steel and golden brass
• Limited to 5 copies, each Cheetah will be personalized and unique
• Winding and time setting via crown
• Complication winds up with a key
• 45 hours of power reserve
• Dimensions: 30*10*10 cm
• Price on request
The animal & the complication
a. Left front leg is the release lever
b. Right front leg is the big rack
b’. It also contains the hour pin
c. The tail is the repetition push-piece (striking mechanism can be repeated on demand) – It also moves when the clock strikes
c’. Hind legs move when the clock strikes
d. The back consists of the big rack and springs.
e. The abdomen contains the release lever spring.
f. Inside the body are the big detent lever, the stop lever, the spring for the top lever and the driving cam
g. The head moves with the rack
i. Release cam