very period of watchmaking history generates its own “new wave” of creators, inventors and brands. The wave might be triggered by new technology (the industrial revolution of the 19th century, automisation and mass-production in the 20th century), new tastes in luxury (the soaring interest in tourbillons since the 1990s, skeletonisation to show off more of the movement), disruption related to the rise of new elites (the über-watchmaking of the 2000s), and counter-revolutions (the vintage revival of recent years, along with a return to more moderate diameters).
So what is the most significant “new wave” of today? What tells us the most about the era in which we’re living? Any attempt to categorise new candidates is a challenging undertaking, particularly in such eclectic times as these. Who will remain? And what will remain of them? Some of the watchmaker portraits we’ve been putting together since the beginning of the year are starting to give an idea about the current new wave – or new waves, rather.
One watchword for our times is “freedom”, particularly after two decades in which watchmaking traditions have been systematically dismantled. Total creative freedom means that virtually nothing is off-limits. Freedom of research and development opens up the possibility for exploring new technical avenues. And last but certainly not least, entrepreneurial freedom has allowed independent watchmakers to experience success on a scale not seen since the emergence of the new watchmaking scene in the early 2000s.
Perhaps one feature the protagonists of these new waves all share is their innate ability to utilise our most contemporary technologies with uninhibited enthusiasm and a natural respect for craftsmanship and artistry.
At one end of the spectrum, among the members of this new wave, we find actors who dare to democratise what has hitherto been an elite preserve: design, in the case of Furlan Marri; and complications, with BA111OD, Horage and others who are striving to bring the tourbillon within reach of the masses. At the other end of the spectrum we have watchmakers who are diving into this century’s version of über-watchmaking. Alexandre Labails is one of them. You can find his portrait here.
Perhaps one feature the protagonists of these new waves all share is their innate ability to utilise our most contemporary technologies – social media, artificial intelligence, 3D printing – with uninhibited enthusiasm and a natural respect for craftsmanship and artistry, which helps them stand out amid the omnipresent digital saturation.
Shona Taine is a promising young watchmaker who has just unveiled her latest model. Remember her name. In our latest issue we offer a series of portraits of some of these new-generation artisans, who will certainly make some waves. You’ll enjoy reading about how they got where they are today. For many of them, it all stems from their childhood, where the earliest stirrings of a passion for watchmaking can be traced back to their oldest memories. Performing their manual tasks almost as a form of meditation, they capture the deft movements of their spiritual ancestors. One day, they too will pass on their skills and wisdom to the next generation. And for that, we should be profoundly grateful.