uartz watches beat dead seconds quite naturally, so to speak: the seconds hand jumps neatly in 1-second intervals. Contrary to this, in mechanical watches the seconds hand seems to glide. Making it jump forward by one second may seem simple to the uninitiated. And yet it is a genuine – and rather rare – complication. Dead-seconds hands were found in the regulator clocks in watch workshops because of the precision they provided, but they were driven by the pendulum movement. In a wristwatch, it is quite another matter.
Gaël Petermann and Florian Bédat got to grips with it for the first watch of their budding brand, called simply Petermann Bédat.
These two young watchmakers first met at the École d’Horlogerie de Genève watchmaking school and then, by a circuitous route, met up again at A. Lange & Söhne: “one heck of an apprenticeship, demanding great rigour and a very high standard of practice,” they explain with undampened enthusiasm. After four years, Gaël came back to Switzerland and took up an independent workbench at Svend Andersen’s – yes, him again. Florian joined him two years later and the two moved to Renens, near Lausanne, to premises provided by the “master”, Philippe Renaud, who was working on his revolutionary escapement project, the DR-01.
They founded their own company there and made a living mainly by doing restoration for Christie’s. But they had one nagging wish: to create their own watch. The opportunity presented itself when Dominique Renaud asked them to decorate two kits of his incredible blade regulator and to assemble a non-functional movement for his DR-01 project. Instead of being paid, they exchanged hours of work with Frédéric Magnard, Dominique Renaud’s engineer, and together designed a new, dead-seconds calibre, entirely “home-made” except for the escapement (wheel and pallet fork). This comes from a Valjoux 72, chosen for its large balance and excellent vibration rate of 18,000.
Case Diameter : 39.00 mm
Thickness of the case : 10.70 mm
Movement diameter : 30.00 mm
Jewels : 29
Movement : Dead beat second in-house hand winding mechanical movement. caliber 171
Power reserve : 36H
Frequency : 18’000 alt/hour
Available in 3 golds (yellow, rose and white)
Price : 60’000 CHF
A very classic vision
By their own admission, the movement takes its inspiration from Lange and Patek Philippe “vintage” models and is made in traditional nickel silver. They chose the dead seconds system despite the problems this poses in terms of energy – “because it demands quite a bit of amplitude and force” – because the calibre of this design would enable them to produce their second timepiece, a monopusher chronograph.
“We have a very classic vision of watchmaking. Our number one reference is the Chronographe 130 from Patek Philippe, for the sobriety and beauty of its movement. Our watchmaking is also strongly inspired by our restoration work, especially as regards simplicity: every movement should be easily repairable.”
Having designed the movement, they collaborated with external service providers to produce the components and got started on the extremely complex decoration, which requires two full months of work for each item. “We take the quality of the decoration and finishing to the limit. For example, we even decorate the inside of the mainspring barrel, which no one will ever see, except a future watchmaker who might open it, once!”
Young and enthusiastic, they make no secret of their ambition: “We admire people like Kari Voutilainen. One day we’d like to be able to do everything ourselves like him, with a small team. And for the dials, we’d love to collaborate with someone like Anita Porchet.” While waiting for their dreams to become reality, their greatest wish is to “remain free and independent at all costs. Even if it means struggling…”
Discover more of The New Haute Horlogerie portfolio here below.