erpétuel, the unique destination for horological enthusiasts across the Middle East, announces its latest collaboration with the legacy of the late Derek Pratt, one of the 20th century’s most talented watchmakers.
Entering the National College of Horology as a Smiths apprentice in 1956, Derek Pratt subsequently worked for the former head of the College, Andrew Fell. He was originally sent by the company to Switzerland, where he worked on the development of a clock to be used in black boxes for aircraft. Derek Pratt finally settled in Switzerland in 1965, successfully transferring some of his horological micro-engineering skills to the burgeoning electronics industry.
However, Pratt’s love of horology had not waned and following his first meeting with Peter Baumberger of Urban Jürgensen, he decided to set up his own company, producing small precision parts for other watchmakers, including George Daniels, as well as restoring mainly historical prestigious watches and clocks.
In addition to his independent work, Derek Pratt became Urban Jürgensen’s chief watchmaker and produced a fine series of pocket watches, inspired by his hero Breguet. The dials were exquisite as he had taught himself to use the straight-line and rose engine-turning machines that he had acquired following the quartz crisis. He was also responsible for the engine-turned dials on Urban Jürgensen’s wrist watches.
In his final decade, Derek Pratt engrossed himself in the task of recreating the famous timepiece H4, with which John Harrison (1693-1776) had won the Longitude Prize. He preferred to say he was “making another one” rather than a replica.
“As Derek’s widow, it is not easy for me to express my own thoughts on watchmaking matters,” says Jenny Pratt. “And now, 13 years after Derek’s untimely death, I am proud to be involved in this new and exciting project, which Luca has described much better than I could. Working together with Luca and his team and having had the opportunity to meet Hamdan and Melika has been most inspiring. I am so impressed by their fervent wish to keep Derek’s name alive. And, together with Derek’s daughters Caroline and Mary, I very much look forward to seeing how this project evolves in future years. The prospect of an upcoming series with engine-turned dials is particularly close to my heart as they will echo Derek’s own beautiful handmade dials. Finally, I would like to express my gratitude for the harmonious collaboration which I have experienced over the past few years with the dedicated watchmaker Luca and the Perpétuel team. My sincere thanks on behalf of the Pratt family to everyone involved.”
Derek Pratt was not only fascinated by the techniques of traditional watchmaking, but further evolved the art, for example by integrating a remontoir in a tourbillion.
Since Derek Pratt’s death in 2009, his legacy has been upheld, mainly thanks to the unwavering passion of Luca Soprana, who has collaborated with some of the most prestigious brands in the industry, including Patek Philippe, Vianney Halter, and many other leading names in the industry. Stewart Lesemann, a friend, and fellow horologist started work with Derek Pratt on a new wristwatch movement in 2009 and presented a prototype at the Derek Pratt Memorial Seminar held by the British Horological Institute in 2011. Luca Soprana took over the project in 2014 with the explicit approval of Derek Pratt’s widow Jenny, representing the Pratt family. He entirely redesigned the calibre and highlighted Derek Pratt’s signature, represented by the remontoir d’égalité and the two flying barrels.
“I am truly honored to have been part of this challenging project,” says Luca Soprana. “It has been most inspiring to have the support of Derek Pratt’s family in the realization of the first wristwatch under his own name and the chance to collaborate with an enthusiastic team like the Perpétuel Gallery in the development of this unique brand. Derek’s idea was to demonstrate that his favourite “remontoir d’égalité” system would perform as well in a static escapement as in a tourbillon and this watch is the actual demonstration of his idea. I am very pleased with the technical results and grateful that I had the chance to complete what he would have done had his health problems not stopped him. What also makes me very proud of this project has been the opportunity to restore Derek Pratt’s reputation of to the place where it should be. Despite being one of the greatest watchmakers of past decades, Derek is often forgotten, partly because he was a very modest person who never sought the spotlight. Derek always endeavoured to uphold his work ethic and to propagate his thoughts on watchmaking, and I hope that with our team we have succeeded in this task.”
He continues: “All the persons involved in this project, the Pratt family, the Pérpetuel Gallery and Atelier 7h38 (my workshop), have worked very hard to perpetuate the legacy of the man and the watchmaker. So all I can say is that I am extremely grateful to Jenny Haller Pratt, to Derek’s daughters Caroline and Mary, and to the Pérpetuel Gallery for their support of my team during this project. Working with them all has been a great pleasure as we managed to create a very good atmosphere and I am really excited about the future of our joint project.”
Given Perpétuel’s direction and focus on independent brands, it was inevitable that the exceptional craftsmanship and fine work of Luca Soprana would attract the interest of the company.
“Perpétuel only represents the finest of the independent watch brands, and after a chance meeting with Luca, I wanted to restore the historic legacy of Derek Pratt by creating a very exclusive series to reflect his exceptional body of work. Together with Luca, we would produce a very limited series to reflect Derek Pratt’s achievements and provide our collectors around the world with extremely rare timepieces carrying the name of a watchmaker who contributed so much to the watch industry”, says Hamdan Al Hudaidi.
The partnership between Perpétuel and Luca Soprana, together with the Derek Pratt family, will feature acquirable timepieces representing a unique design exclusive to Perpétuel.
- Case: 41.64mm x 12.6mm – 316L steel – sapphire crystal – screwed sapphire crystal caseback. Polished lugs and vertically brushed side of the case.
- Dial: Small second at seven o’clock in salmon colored dial with applied Easter Arabic Numerals in stainless steel.
- Movement: In-house movement Caliber DP07 - designed, constructed, fabricated and assembled in Ateliers 7h38 workshop. Diameter 37.8 mm. 36-hour power reserve. 216 parts, including 30 jewels.
- Mechanism: Remontoir d’égalité to the second with direct dead-beat seconds on the remontoir pignon. Free sprung balance wheel with glucydur timing masselottes, frequency of 18,000 v.p.h. Hairspring with Breguet over-coil, adjusted and counted in-house. Double Flying Barrels inspired by the “motor system” construction.
- Availability: Limited to 7 pieces