Purity, an absence of the unnecessary and a focus on the essential… That’s what Beat Haldimann has been striving for with the timepieces that he crafts by hand. Plus a high dosis of spectacular finishing. Recently Haldimann unveiled his first stainless steel watches with new versions of the no-frill H11 & H12: two superb blue dialed timepieces radiating authentic, uncompromising craftsmanship. We take a hands-on look at these rare objects.
In these times of Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) and CNC machines, watchmakers with a global expertise, capable of fully designing, creating and handcrafting their watches are a rare breed. Beat Haldimann is one of them. These master craftsmen put a part of themselves into their creations. It is only with such know-how and expertise that an object become unique.
Beat Haldimann is best known for his work on the resonance phenomenon and his remarkable tourbillon watches, however his H11 and H12 watches, with no complications, are nonetheless exceptional. First presented in 2013, these quintessential dress watches are now available (keeping in mind that only a few units are manufactured each year within Haldimann’s workshops) in steel for the first time.
The Haldimann H11 and H12 are powered by eponymous calibers. The exhibition case backs allow you to admire the breathtaking (apparent) simplicity of these movements. The only visible elements are a large plate, the crown wheel, ratchet wheel and click, plus the balance wheel in the center. It is not recessed in the movement but hovering over it, maintained by an open-worked cock. The term ‘Less is more’ has rarely been so appropriate. Even if everything seems stripped down to the essentials, the work done is remarkable, with the utmost attention paid to the details. The oscillations of the balance are maintained by a unique modified Swiss lever escapement for improved isochronism. The anti-shock system with its cross-shaped spring is a proprietary development.
The movement finish is flawless, with hand-frosting on the plates (echoing the finish of the dial) and snailing on the crown-wheel and ratchet-wheel. The jewel sinks are finely polished. This superb work is all the more remarkable because Beat Haldimann’s movements are manufactured (in the true etymological meaning – made by hand) without the assistance of any CNC machines. Every component has been developed, shaped, finished and assembled by hand within Haldimann’s workshops in Thun.
The H11 and H12 movement are cased in a 39mm round case (also available in 42 mm upon request) crafted in steel, a metal used for the first time by Haldimann. The design features no gimmicks, nothing unnecessary, just pure essential functionality.
The magnificent ‘grené’ dials are crafted from a silver plate. Their frosted surface with magnificent depth, shine and granularity is the result of a time-consuming process. The indexes are engraved and the recesses are filled with lacquer. The dials are then patiently brushed with a silver powder to finish the surface. The remarkably thin, hand-crafted hands are made of steel. Their simple, elegant design are inspired by a pocket watch from Haldimann frères from the 18th century.
The H11 and H12 are perfect purist watches. Their brutal simplicity leaves nothing to chance. Their timeless beauty radiates integrity, purity and functionality. Some type of natural endpoint?
A classical Haldimann H12 with silver dial
Retail prices are respectively of CHF 30,000 and CHF 31,000. Beat Haldimann offers a lifetime complimentary servicing on his watches. For more information, visit www.haldimann.swiss.
Technical specifications Haldimann H11 (no seconds) & H12 (small seconds at 5 o’clock.
- Case: 39 mm x 10.8 mm – stainless steel – sapphire crystal with antireflective coating – see-through case back with sapphire crystal- water resistant to 30m.
- Movement: H11 or H12 with manual winding – 38h power reserve – 21’600 vibrations/h – 19 jewels – hours, minutes (and small seconds for H12).
- Strap: hand-sewn alligator leather strap, pin or folding clasp.
- Price: CHF 30,000 (H11) and CHF 31,000 (H12)