Saturday, 20 May 2017

Watchmaking museum

Last week we were walking around the town of the watchmakers, La Chaux-de-Fonds. Today I invite you to a very special museum where we will be able to admire the results of their work. Real masterpieces of Swiss watchmaking. And far beyond in fact - let's discover the relation between Man and the Time.

The main entrance of the International Museum of Watchmaking waits for us.

Just next to the entrance you will find an exhibition of the finest Swiss brands, with Baume et Mercier ...

... Jaeger LeCoultre (each worth a small car, maybe even not that small a car) ...

... and Rolex, whose founder was born and trained in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

Obviously, when men in antiquity wanted to know what time it was, they did not use smartwatches. They were building sundials.

As we move inside the museum, we discover that actually wrist watches are a novelty. The first watches or more precisely turret clocks were on church and town hall towers. And they were substantially larger of course.

The mechanism was large so it calibration was an art of itself.

The second place where watchmakers were facing challenges were the seven seas where the sailors needed to know the time in order to establish correctly their position. Even if the sea was shaking.

This is why, they were closing clocks in robust wooden boxes.

Gradually, the need to know the exact time was paving its way to houses of the nobility. The aesthetic design was becoming more and more important then, irrespective if it would stand on the floor ...

... or on the chimney.

The definition of what "fashionable design" is was of course changing over centuries. The Watchmaking Museum allows us to follow this evolution in a nutshell.

Finally, the dandy gentlemen wanted to have a watch with them all the time. This is how pocket watches were born.

They were of course coming in different colours and patterns, both when it comes to the faces ...

... and probably even more prominently - the cases.

Obviously since we are in the museum of watchmaking (not just of watches), there is a whole large exhibition devoted to the craft (or art should I say probably) of watchmaking. You can see the workshop of a watchmaker from close.

The beautifully decorated faces required lots of work and artistic skills.

Putting all elements of a watch was a work of great precision.

This is why watchmakers usually wear enlarging glasses.

The relation between man and time is a complex one. We cannot control it, no matter how much we try. Still, it impacts us in all possible ways. We just need to find the balance between treating it too seriously and relaxing. Let master Salvador Dalí inspire us.

No comments:

Post a Comment