A month ago I wrote about the Jumping minutes and jumping hours from 4N Paris – a gorgeous example of Haute Horlogerie. The 4N Watch is a great example of innovation in the world of watches, a breath of fresh air. Writing the article, I was very eager to find out what hides behind the 4N Paris, what wishes has the man behind this great watch – François Quentin (more information about him at the end of the article in his own words).
Q: If you could have a watch, regardless of brand, price, availability… any watch! What would it be and why? (short explanation: grail, wish since kid or whatever).
A: La Breguet Tradition Tourbillon 7047 – I really like this watch, especially the design of the tourbillon, very refined, and very refined in the choice of finishes.
Q: The 4N is a great watch, beautiful from an aesthetic and mechanical point of view. Is there an intention for another 4N watch? Simpler or maybe more complicated.
A: I’m working on a round evolution of the 4N, still with a digital display, but with a slightly different kinematics. However, this piece will not be ready for 2 years.
Note to the first question: The Breguet Tradition 7047 is one of those watches that even if you do not express it consciously, you want it. A Breguet watch is by definition an incontestable great watch, but the tradition collection “pays a vibrant tribute to the memory of Breguet” (Breguet Website).
“Tradition “Grande Complication” wristwatch in platinum, with fusee tourbillon. Breguet Balance spring in silicon. Hand-wound movement with power reserve displayed on the barrel drum. Off-centred silvered gold dial, hand-engraved on a rose engine. Sapphire case back. Water-resistant to 3bar ( 30 m ). Diameter: 41 mm. Available in 18-carat rose gold.” – Breguet Website
The 30m water resistant case has a height of 41mm and a thickness of 15.95mm. The top and bottom are covered with sapphire crystal.
The watch is powered by the Breguet caliber 569: a hand wound 16 lines movement with 43 jewels, beating at a low 2.5Hz / 18,000vph and with a power reserve of 50 hours.
The dial is a Breguet watch traditional: frost finishes, guilloche silver dial, blue Breguet hands. The tourbillon uses a titanium Breguet balance-wheel with Breguet Silicon balance-spring.
Please visit the Breguet Website or one of the Official Boutiques for more information about the Breguet watches.
Note to the second question: Mr Quentin has been working for some years to a new watch. Unfortunately, there are no previews available. I will wait patiently for the first images with the new design. More than sure it will be a lovely watch with technical marvel inside.
For those who don’t know Mr Quentin very well, I will share his own words from Watchuseek Forum:
It started with my studies. I began by doing a formation in mechanics, and shortly after, decided to follow up with designer studies. Once the knowledge had been taught, I designed a lot of different products, from machine Tools to glasses through jewellery and else. But the most fascinating was the design of watches, and so I worked with french companies first, and one step at a time, approached the swiss companies.
It permitted access to great challenges. Therefore, in 2002, it led to the creation of the Watch « Tambour » by Vuitton of which I am a co-author. 2 years later, after having made a network, we decided with Renaud and Guillaume to create the brand Hautlence, in order to make our own way. After staying two years in the company, being in conflict with the major investor, (crappy investors ) I decided to create 4N.
Although design and mechanics gave the opportunity to conceptualise well, I had to take a formation in watchmaking of two years to improve my skills and specialise in watchmaking conception.
How did the idea came to me?
In 2006, many creations were born. My observation was that the focus was on an overbidding of spectacular and surprising displays, but at the expense of lisibility, losing the first purpose of a watch. Because of this, the first goal was to create an ergonomic piece, the spectacular final aspect only came as a consequence. I decided to work on numerical displays with hour jump and minute jump. Thereby, the idea of creating a discs carrousel (4 discs for the hours, 1 for dozens of minutes, and 5 for the minutes) came up, in order to increase display surface and have bigger numbers.
Of course, the disc display was inspired by the starwheel of AP, amazing piece, even though the concept and mechanical functioning have nothing to do with the MVT-01.
Reflection and reasoning
As you know, creating an hour jump is pretty easy, but on the contrary, a minute jump is infinitely harder, especially as I had 5 discs for the minutes (having a minute jump leaves a problematic of energy, Indeed, we have 60 times less energy for the minutes than for the hour)
The first one was indexing the discs, positioning them in order to make the overall movement possible. To solve this one, I decided to use cages, holding the discs together and initiating the rotation. At the same time, the discs had to make their own rotation (for the minutes, the discs turn halfway while the cage turns of a fifth of a whole turn). Each disc is attached to a wheel. Those wheels mesh with one crown gear (cf. picture). When the cage turns, it forces the discs to spin as a planetary gear.
Second (but really first to be treated) was how to rotate the cages. In fact, they are dragged along by a spiral spring which, like a constant force, is armed during the minute by a trailing gear, attached to the cage (itself immobile during the minute). When the jump takes place, the spring is released, catching up with the winding, bringing along the cage.
Third was how to trigger the jump. It is a really ingenious, clever mechanic principle that we found with APRP, but unfortunately, this is a secret I cannot reveal… You’ll get tips though : It relies on only one piece and does not use a spring. Can you find it?
Concerning the energy problematic, without getting into the détails, since it concerns a lot of pieces, we managed to get over this challenge with the proof: almost 10 days of power reserve, which is quite exceptional.
What pleased me in general, was the challenge of being innovative and creating new solutions. This brought both technical and logistical questions. Watchmakers are indeed more technical than they are creative, and it is rare to be able to convince them following on a never-seen-before project. That’s also why I first met the Arts et métiers in Paris, to know if this idea was achievable dynamically, and had a favourable answer. This motivated me to persevere until I finally found a high-quality partner: APRP (Audemars-Piguet Renaud & Papi).
I hope this helped you make the watch more alive and got you the understanding of such an innovation process. However, if you have any more questions, maybe some more detailed, I’ll be happy to answer them whenever time makes it possible.”
In the end, I would like to thank François Quentin for his time and answers. Please visit the 4N Website for more information.