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Meet Renaud Tixier, The New Project of Two Inventive Minds, and the Inaugural Monday Watch

Two generations of watchmakers, Dominique Renaud and Julien Tixier, join forces to revisit the micro-rotor.

| By Xavier Markl | 5 min read |

A veteran of the Swiss industry, Dominique Renaud joins forces with a young independent watchmaker, Julien Tixier. They aim to revisit fundamental principles of mechanical watchmaking and micro-mechanics introducing innovative solutions. The first opus of this newly created brand Renaud Tixier reimagines a classic of fine watchmaking, the micro-rotor, with an auxiliary mechanism to enhance its winding efficiency… The watch is named the Renaud Tixier Monday, and we’re here to discover what the two creative minds have prepared to revisit this winding mechanism.

A name that many will know, Dominique Renaud made a name for himself by co-founding, together with Giulio Papi, Renaud & Papi in 1986, which has since evolved into Audemars Piguet Renaud Papi (APRP). Beyond their work for Audemars Piguet, APRP is one of the most prominent players in the development and has manufactured complicated movements for some of the most prestigious brands – such as IWC, Lange & Söhne, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Audemars Piguet, Richard Mille or Cartier. Dominique Renaud left the company in 2000, a few years after Audemars Piguet acquired Renaud & Papi. He retired to the South of France for over 10 years to make a comeback a few years ago. He has since been involved in different projects, including presenting a horological UFO fitted with a novel escapement. 

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Dominique Renaud and Julien Tixier

The presentation of this project (which remained a concept watch and never made it to production) was the opportunity to meet with a young and talented watchmaker, Julien Tixier. The connection was immediate and a few years later, the two men would work together on quite remarkable projects: the Tempus Fugit watch and its super compact secular perpetual calendar or the Furlan Marri Secular Perpetual Calendar for Only Watch.

The duo is now announcing the launch of their brand, Renaud Tixier. Their objective is to reimagine the core principles of mechanical watchmaking, guided by a willingness to challenge conventions and explore the possibilities with a “what if” approach. They plan to revisit seven key aspects of micro-mechanics, hence the choice of the name “Monday” for their inaugural creation.

This first chapter revisits a fundamental element of an automatic watch, its winding system, and to be precise, the micro-rotor concept. Micro-rotors enable the creation of thinner movements, as the winding system is integrated into the movement rather than placed over it. This also results in a clearer view of the movement, as there is no oscillating weight rotating above it. Yet, one of the drawbacks of this elegant, sophisticated solution is that micro-rotors tend to have lower winding efficiency due to their smaller size. This can be quite problematic, in particular with “idle” wearers. Indeed, the efficiency of a self-winding mechanism in an automatic watch also depends on the wrist activity of its wearer.

This led Renaud to ask himself a crucial question: How can one harness all the energy generated by the wearer, including the energy from the constant small shocks that a traditional micro-rotor is unable to convert?

His answer was to use the space of the centre part of the rotor, adding an auxiliary mechanism (dubbed “dancer”) to improve its efficiency. To do so, he imagined a central propeller and shock absorber, capable of absorbing and restituting energy from the wearer’s move to wind the main spring optimally.

A large spiral connects the central axis to the mechanism, absorbing energy and “acting as a catapult.” Another spring extends from the axis in the opposite direction, with a finger that allows it to serve as a shock absorber. On one hand, the solution might seem counter-intuitive since adding gears inevitably increases friction and even if minimal, there is an energy loss in a compressed spring. However, according to the watchmakers, the mechanism found in the Renaud Tixier Monday enables optimal utilization of the wearer’s movements. They assert that the winding efficiency is clearly enhanced although they cannot confirm by how much yet.

A brand-new movement, the calibre RVI2023, was developed to house this new take on the micro-rotor, involving alongside Renaud and Tixier, movement constructor Alexandre Bugnon and watch prototypist Sebastien Rousseau. Besides its automatic mechanism, this large 36.8mm calibre stands out with its elaborate architecture. Among other highlights, it features openworked bridges to provide an unimpeded view of the winding mechanism. The barrel is decorated by engraver Coralie Mercier and enameller Maëlle Constant (who share the same atelier as Tixier in the Vallée de Joux). The blue colour was chosen because it is the colour associated with Monday for Wassily Kandinsky. 

The two clicks for the barrel are offset by half a tooth in relation to each other to optimize winding efficiency. If the decoration is beautiful overall, the thin bercé, black polished bridge holding the second and third wheels is really worth a close look. Last, the palladium balance wheel features poising screws and a fine adjustment regulator. It beats at 18,000 vibrations/hour and boasts over 60 hours of power reserve.

This caliber RVI2023 is housed in a 40,8mm three-hand model. Available in pink or white gold, its round case features profiled, slightly curved lugs, a thin bezel and a large dial opening. The dial features a clean, classic design in slate grey or metallic grey with a sunburst finish and a grained small second sub-dial. A cut-out at 9 o’clock offers a view of the micro-rotor mechanism with the caption “volant d’inertie” at its periphery. The applied markers are paired with dauphine-style hands.

The Renaud Tixier Monday is worn on a hand-sewn alligator or calf leather strap with a pin gold buckle matching the material of the case. If the model is not a limited edition, the production will be “by nature” exclusive. The first watches are expected to be delivered by the end of 2024. The price is set at CHF 79,000 (excl. taxes).

2 responses

  1. Is this a joke? 2.5Hz escapement in a 36.8 by 6.86mm movement gets you only 60 hours of power reserve, and their main selling point is efficiency?

  2. Lol those rear shots look like someone asked ChatGPT to draw a watch movement.

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