As you walk into Vianney Halter’s workshop in Sainte-Croix, the first thing you see are the huge aeroplane wings hanging from the ceiling. Is this really a watchmaker’s workshop? “I tinker around and do some watchmaking on the side! What watchmaking and aviation share is that both require big machines.” Childhood dreams, technology, mechanics, science fiction, cars, aviation, naval feats, adventure… This is the universe of Vianney Halter, originally from Paris and fiercely independent.
- Deep Space Tourbillon
He pioneered an uncompromising and radical form of watchmaking with the Antiqua model, and has received praise for his galactic Deep Space Tourbillon. He produces around fifteen watches a year, dividing his time between Switzerland and Dubai, and—unusually in the current climate— things are going well for him. We take a look at what inspires him.
- Landing gear “I am in the process of designing a rotating joystick system to control the front wheel of the plane. My passions for aviation and watchmaking were born at the same time.”
- A giant tap “This giant tap reminds me of my childhood, when most everyday objects seemed gigantic!”
- Bells “I collect bells designed for use in turret clocks: this one was produced in the nineteenth century by Amédé Bollée, who was also a French automobile pioneer.”
- Leonard Nimoy, aka Spock “Science fiction is what has inspired me most since childhood. The Deep Space Tourbillon borrows its style and technical design from the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. During the design process, I suddenly began to sleep up to fifteen hours a day, rather than my usual four to five hours a day. The watch was born from this intense sleep.”
- The World, the Flesh and the Devil “This 1959 film is about an apocalypse in New York, and it really made an impression on me as a child – in particular, an enormous Harry Winston diamond that appears in a key scene. This world seemed off-limits to me… until I made the Opus 3 for the diamond merchant as an adult!”
- Light bulbs “I have a collection of around 300 old light bulbs. They represent a really important step in the use of electricity, which is so vital for our whole existence, and combine craft, physics and metallurgy.”
- Antide Janvier “The Antiqua is inspired by marine chronometry from the eighteenth century, in particular the works of Ferdinand Berthoud and Antide Janvier’s astronomical clocks. I also use the Janvier brand, which I have registered as a proprietary name, for some exceptional pieces.”
- The heliostat “This object from 1820 is a mirror that follows the path of the sun and provides scientific devices with a source of light. A few days after acquiring it, I learnt that its designer Pierre Gambey had lived in the same house as I did in Paris!”
- The Gaïa prize Vianney Halter received an award in 2016 for his “contribution to re-imagining contemporary watchmaking style and techniques, whilst respecting craftsmanship and never making concessions to conformist pressures.”
Source: Europa Star TIME.BUSINESS/TIME.KEEPER Dec. 2016 - Jan. 2017