Part art and part industrial, watchmaking is particular in that it deals with a “raw material” that is as fascinating as it is mysterious and elusive—Time.
Along with space, this continuous flow that we call Time is the fundamental—and inexorable, we are tempted to say—dimension of our own existence. Horology is merely concerned with quantifying Time. In doing so, however, beyond the simple counting of the days, hours, minutes, and seconds, it opens up some fascinating perspectives.
Bound to the incessant march of Time—which speeds like an arrow or spirals in infinite circles—horology also measures our lives and constantly reminds us of our mortality. Curled around our wrists, it gives rhythm to our lives and shares in our most routine events and activities. Yet, it also connects us directly to the cosmos, to the most profound enigmas of the universe, and to the dizziness of infinity.
For once, then, let’s step back a little from the industrial and commercial aspects of watchmaking, and spend a few minutes observing its powers of suggestion and its creative forces. Let’s forget life’s urgencies and immediacies for a moment and look at the notion of Time through a different lens. Let’s just take the time!
Let’s take the time to delve into the extraordinary history of the long and fascinating conquest of the measurement of Time that has accompanied human history by leafing through a book dedicated to the subject by the historian Dominique Fléchon. Let’s take the time to reflect, along with the philosopher Hartmut Rosa, on the perhaps dramatic consequences of the incredible acceleration of Time that our societies are now experiencing.
Let’s sit for a moment inside the yurt belonging to Denis Flageollet who takes his time to ponder new mechanical solutions in watchmaking. Let’s try to understand, along with the physicists at CERN, how it could be possible to go faster than the speed of light. Let’s admire for an instant, along with Timm Delfs, the most beautiful and ingenious of the recent mechanical timepieces dedicated to the firmament.
Let’s sit for 24 hours watching Christian Marclay’s The Clock, an enthralling montage of images that tell the stories of our loves and dramas taken under the ever-present and merciless gaze of the clock. Let’s linger a minute or so over the cartes blanches that we have offered an artist such as Alexis Guillier, or a designer such as Eric Giroud, or the two mischievous friends at the White agency. Finally, let’s listen to the architect Ottavio Di Blasi, as he relates how the space-time theories of Einstein can serve as inspiration for a booth at a watch fair.
Between the end of the SIHH and the beginning of BaselWorld, let’s take a breather and take the time to think about Time:
- The Mastery of Time
- Hartmut Rosa: The acceleration of time
- The yurt and the equation
- Aphorisms on time
- The Clock: watch of the year
- Carte blanche: Eric Giroud
- Chronometry at the speed of light
- A meeting with Ottavio Di Blasi
- Carte blanche: The White Group
- Starry skies on the wrist
- Carte blanche: Alexis Guillier
Photo: Robert Van der Steeg
Source: Europa Star February - March 2012 Magazine Issue