Simply astounding!Maîtres du Temps: Chapter One
Imagine a few of the world’s greatest watchmakers, including Christophe Claret and Peter Speake-Marin, collaborating to develop just one timepiece. Imagine no longer. The first chapter of a brand new story called Maîtres du Temps is written. And the watch, appropriately named Chapter One, is simply astounding.
Picture the world’s most exclusive atelier with watchmaking’s finest artisans working together to concoct alchemy unprecedented in the history of horology. Introducing Maîtres du Temps, a brand in which master watchmakers blend their vast and diverse experience in a collaborative effort to create exclusive and unparalleled masterpieces.
A man with nearly three decades of watch-experience: Steven Holtzman
The driving force behind Maîtres du Temps is Steven Holtzman, a man with nearly three decades of experience in the watch industry. Holtzman is the catalyst bringing master watchmakers together, and Maîtres du Temps provides a canvas for their art. Holtzman realizes his vision by extracting and distilling the very best each master watchmaker has to offer. Each chapter in the Maîtres du Temps story is a symbiosis of experience, influence, art, craft, and technique, all harmoniously encapsulated in a single watch.
The philosophy of Maîtres du Temps is symbolized by a tree, with each branch representing a fresh opportunity to work with new masters, another collaboration, a future project. And as the branches intertwine and the tree bears fruit, so a new timepiece is brought to life. Chapter One is imbued with the intoxicating fusion of Christophe Claret’s undisputed mastery of high-end complications and Peter Speake-Marin’s unique ability to bridge the very best of both traditional and modern watchmaking.
The first piece from Maîtres du Temps is, befitting the great men behind it, a world-first combination of complications with tourbillon, mono-pusher chronograph, retrograde date, retrograde GMT, and two idiosyncratic rolling bars at 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock, indicating the day of the week and phase of the moon, respectively. As each new chapter of the story unfolds, a new combination of established or emerging masters will unite to create the next Maîtres du Temps masterpiece. But let’s start at the beginning: Chapter One.
Maîtres du Temps and Founder Steven Holtzman
Maîtres du Temps is not so much a new watch company as it is an entirely new horological concept. Founded by Steven Holtzman, Maîtres du Temps brings together groups of the most talented master watchmakers to develop exclusive timepieces.
Steven Holtzman began his career in horology over twenty-five years ago with the sale and distribution of watches in the U.S. In 1997, he created Helvetia Time Corporation (HTC) to distribute high-quality Swiss watch brands—including the brand Roger Dubuis—throughout North and Central America. HTC acquired the distinction of becoming one of the few high-end, independent watch distributors in North America. In 2004, Holtzman was instrumental in initiating the distribution of Jean Dunand Pièces Uniques in the Americas and Macau.
In 2008, Holtzman realized his most ambitious project to date: his own brand, Maîtres du Temps. With Maîtres du Temps, Holtzman acts as a catalyst for today's greatest master watchmakers to collaborate on the most innovative projects imaginable. In launching Maîtres du Temps, he made a conscious effort to promote the people who actually craft the timepieces—the watchmakers whose influences, strengths, and accomplishments Maîtres du Temps brings to the fore and celebrates.
“I saw my role as a connector and as a catalyst, bringing people together to come up with ideas and providing the template for independent watchmakers to be seen through a collaborative effort,” says Holtzman. “By blending the different styles and talents of the watchmakers, I was able to realize my vision—Maîtres du Temps.” What Holtzman had in mind was developing teams of outstanding watchmakers who would work together to develop and craft incredible timepieces. Each master watchmaker brings his own ideas, his own style, and his own approach, and by providing the opportunity for them to work together, Maîtres du Temps harnesses and maximizes their incredible talent.
“What we’re looking for is creativity, ingenuity, and craftsmanship,” Holtzman says. “In assembling our teams of masters, we traveled throughout Switzerland and Europe, meeting amazingly talented craftsmen. Each master brings a new perspective and his own strengths, so by teaming up these gifted individuals, we can create something very special.”
The level of technical and design sophistication achieved by Maîtres du Temps has rarely been seen in watchmaking. It is the result of the right combination of people sharing a bold vision. “We do it by not accepting second best and by constantly designing and re-designing,” says Holtzman. “We are continually faced with different choices, and the decision each time is to not compromise on quality, finish, or design. In this way, Maîtres du Temps is able to offer remarkable timepieces crafted by remarkable people.”
Chapter One – First Collection by Maîtres du Temps
The elegant, streamlined form, innovative indications, and ergonomic functions of Chapter One belie the incredible complexity of its unique movement and the compound-curve sophistication of its case. Chapter One’s master watchmakers have come together to craft a horological work of art, both inside and out. Long, flowing compound curves traverse the case, imparting a sense of nobility and power without leaving a trace of the complexity involved. The ease of both reading and adjusting Chapter One’s many indications disguises the fact that this is a world-first combination of complications crafted from 558 components.
No wristwatch before Chapter One has ever featured a tourbillon movement incorporating a mono-pusher column wheel chronograph, retrograde date, retrograde GMT, and phase of the moon and day of the week indications displayed on their own distinctive rolling bars. Efficiently transmitting power 90° to the two rollers and ensuring that they work simultaneously with the time, date, GMT, and chronograph was an immense technical challenge. That the challenge was met and surpassed is further testament to Chapter One’s enormously talented team.
A tour of the dial reveals central coaxial hours, minutes, and chronograph 60-second counter; tourbillon and day of the week roller at 6 o’clock; retrograde GMT at 9 o’clock; 60-minute chronograph counter and precision moon phase roller at 12 o’clock; and retrograde date at 3 o’clock. Meticulous attention to every minute detail throughout the design and execution of all facets of Chapter One’s development has resulted in a timepiece of exceptional presence and refinement. The harmoniously integrated rolling bars, for example, had to be both large enough to be easily read and small enough to be ultralight and homogeneous with the case. Scintillating, laser-pierced moon and stars on the outer roller of the moon phase indication add to its stellar elegance.
Myriad details make Chapter One a timepiece that richly rewards a closer look, from the small window between the day roller and the tourbillon, which allows a unique view of the superbly finished gyrating tourbillon cage, to the series of mirror-polished angled surfaces catching and reflecting light and bringing the multi-level dial to life. Even the locking corrector pushers are formed from curves meeting at an imaginary point so as to perfectly follow the graceful flow of the case.
It is not by mere chance that the bold and curvaceous three-dimensionality of Chapter One is more reminiscent of a streamlined supercar than a wristwatch; one can envision that this timepiece runs as smoothly as the contours of its beautiful body indicate. The story of Chapter One is one of glorious complexity in celebration of the men behind it.
Master Watchmaker Christophe Claret
Vision and realization occasionally go hand in hand; more often than not, however, the journey is fraught with insurmountable difficulties. Ensuring that what is seen in the mind’s eye becomes something that can be worn on the wrist is the business of Christophe Claret. His fascination with wristwatches began at an early age, and when only sixteen, he enrolled at the prestigious Geneva School of Watchmaking. An extensive background in restoration followed, providing Claret with exposure to the finest in traditional horological craftsmanship.
Beyond his training, Claret has the essential skills to realize designs that not only have never before been conceived, but that previously would have been impossible to execute. Beginning in 1987, when he obtained his first contract for minute-repeater movements, Claret has steadily built what is possibly the world’s most sophisticated manufactory of complicated movements.
No challenge seems beyond him, from tourbillons of every conceivable variety to unusual automatic winding mechanisms via striking watches whose sophistication is without rival. His exceptional movements are as remarkable for their precision and reliability as they are for their complexity. Claret’s manufactory at Le Soleil d’Or in Le Locle boasts a vast array of equipment that runs the gamut from a full complement of the most noble of traditional watchmaking tools to the latest computer-guided laser cutters. He has become both the first choice and the last resort for horological visionaries, whose dreams can be made real only by the deftest of magicians. In the creation of Chapter One by Maîtres du Temps, Claret plays the role of both creator and developer.
“Maîtres du Temps puts the watchmakers first,” says Claret. “It allows the client, the lover of extremely complicated watchmaking, to get to know the creators of the product, those who have designed, made, and assembled the timepiece.”
Master Watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin
For English watchmaker Peter Speake-Marin, the preferred route has always been the road less traveled. From the outset, his iconoclastic personality has expressed itself not only in his chosen profession and passion for horology, but also in the way he has pursued that path.
Speake-Marin followed his talent to study horology in the mid-1980s. His skills were rapidly recognized, and he was soon given an opportunity by a prominent London antique watch dealer to establish his watch repair and restoration department. This was an invaluable experience that afforded Speake-Marin exposure to many different brands of vintage complications of the highest caliber. “There I fell in love with watchmaking,” he has said of his years working with these exquisite examples of the watchmaker’s art.
To satisfy his desire for adventure and to broaden his experience, he left England for Switzerland, where he had studied in earlier years. His first stop was the workshop of renowned complications specialists Renaud & Papi. He then dedicated himself to mastering the methods through which today’s increasingly audacious new horological complications are conceived. At the same time, he began work on his own masterpiece—a unique tourbillon pocket watch designed, constructed, and assembled entirely by hand.
In order for horological artistry to flourish, Speake-Marin believes watchmakers must be aware of the past and conscious of the wealth of new possibilities offered by the future. “New design and manufacturing technologies allow fresh scope for different forms that were unimaginable only ten years ago,” he says. For Speake-Marin, Chapter One by Maîtres du Temps is the perfect medium through which to express his experience of the historical tradition of fine watchmaking and to convey his belief in its future.