Time Æon Foundation joins forces with Ferdinand Berthoud for a new adventure under the name of Naissance D’une Montre 3. Sharing the same values, their perpetual quest for the transmission of knowledge and training brings the two entities together for a common purpose.
The goal is to build a watch by hand and to encourage continuous internal training, a notion very dear to Karl Friedrich Scheufele, Robert Greubel and Stephen Forsey. Karl-Friedrich Scheufele will appoint in a number of departments of the Chopard group a person responsible for acquiring the know-how necessary to for the Naissance d’une Montre 3 project and for them to transmit it within their team.
Once this framework is in place, the goal of Naissance d’une Montre 3 will be to transcribe the spirit and creativity of Ferdinand Berthoud’s ground-breaking 18th-century work into a wristwatch. Supported by the Time Æon Foundation, the realisation of this three-hand watch will involve traditional mechanical tools requiring very specific training and expertise to use. This transmission of know-how contributes to the safeguarding of professions and skills directly related to the world’s watchmaking heritage.
Together, the team ensures the follow-up, proper execution, and spirit of watchmaking excellence as described in the Time Æon Foundation charter, ensuring, among other things, the transmission of know-how on a number of levels, notably the movement construction, following the rules of traditional methods, excellent workmanship as well as decoration.
Naissance d’une Montre 3 is above all the story of a meeting point between the past and the future, a story that focuses on spreading the know-how that will give birth to the vocations of tomorrow.
This corporate project brings together artisans and apprentices in the group (Chopard and Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud) to pursue a common goal: ensuring that the art of watchmaking lives on. Going against the flow of the current tendency to automate and industrialise, the synergies formed are seeking to produce a timepiece using only traditional, manual techniques.
Act I of this project unveiled the chain and fusee mechanism, a hallmark of Ferdinand Berthoud’s work on timekeeping for the French Navy in the eighteenth century. Now, Act II presents the tools and machines required to carry out a project of this scope, bearing in mind the strict criteria inherent in work performed by hand.
There’s no point in trying to keep an art alive unless it can also be passed on to the next generation, but doing so is easier said than done. The art of Fine Watchmaking is sedimentary in nature, developed over the course of centuries. Knowledge is built up, often passed on, but sometimes lost. Restoring such knowledge is not an idle pursuit; it’s a duty and a responsibility.
Therein lies the mission of the ‘Naissance d’une Montre’ project. Launched by the Time Æon Foundation, the project is now embarking on its third stage with Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud, part of the Chopard Group. The timepiece born out of this initiative is due to emerge in three years’ time, in 2024. Just 11 watches will be made – and the workshop in question is already operational.
A workshop that’s been two years in the making
In projects like this, preparation takes at least as long as execution itself. Making a timepiece by hand involves bringing together the required skills, know-how, and highly specific tools, many of which are obsolete nowadays.
The aim of the ‘Naissance d’une Montre’ project is to recover the legendary tricks of the trade and pass them on to today’s watchmakers, most of whom work on digitally-operated machines. The timepiece’s calibre will be designed in line with the capabilities of legacy machines – rather than the other way round, as is the case in mass-produced contemporary watchmaking.
A bespoke facility
Historic tools and machinery have been installed in the Chopard Manufacture in Fleurier. Five pieces of equipment dating from the 1950s and 1960s have been brought together in a new venue designed to promote artisanal work: the ‘Hand Made’ space. Within this facility, at present wholly given over to the ‘Naissance d’une Montre 3’ project, Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud’s watchmakers and decorators rub shoulders with other Craftsmen practising arts such as enamelling and hand-engraving.
The equipment includes a 1960 Schaublin 102 Lathe, used to fashion circular components: shafts, fusees, pillars, pinions, gears, barrel drums, pins, winding stems, screws, and the like.
A 1960 SIP jig boring machine has been enlisted for boring, milling, drilling, grinding, and tapping operations on various components: rockers, levers, base plates, wheel platforms, bridges, and springs. The cutting tools include an Ewag machine with a diamond grinding wheel, to be used for the hardest materials.
For all the processes involved, the experts from the firm’s different departments will use only tools that are themselves also custom-built – and handmade. An Aciera F3 milling machine will be used to produce and fit this equipment.
“the timepieces we’ll be unveiling in 2024 will mark the culmination of a five-year process,” — explains Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, co-President of Chopard and President of Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud.
“Naissance d’une Montre’ 3 is a corporate project that brings together historic watchmaking and technical craftsmanship. To achieve this, we’re bringing to bear a whole range of skills and machines that haven’t been together in the same place, at the same time, for the same purpose, for the best part of half a century.”