We are always excited to see new indie watchmakers launch their brand, all the more when we are talking about traditional haute horlogerie. If his name might not ring a bell, Hervé Schlüchter is not exactly a newbie in the watch industry, having spent most of his career with Bovet, where he ended up managing the Tramelan manufacture. Now in his mid-forties, the independent watchmaker grew up in Le Bémont, a small village in the Franches Montagnes in the Swiss Jura. In 2016, the loss of his father and the birth of his son was a turning point in his life. This emotional moment led him to dedicate himself to his family and to create his own watches. He subsequently matured his project, in particular, spending time with Philippe Dufour to perfect his craft. His first watch, L’Essentiel is part of a generational concept. It is the first opus of a trilogy named Tree of Life, which is built around the idea of intergenerational time and transmission (grandparent, parent and child). As such, the Hervé Schlüchter L’Essentiel will take a whole different dimension when the two other watches (L’Essentiel Tourbillon and L’Existence) will later be unveiled. But, for now, as a stand-alone model, it is already a very impressive creation.
Hervé Schlüchter works with his small team in a workshop in Biel (Bienne), in an elegant 19th-century mansion in the heart of a park next to the Suze River. There, you will discover a set of ancient tools with which Hervé Schlüchter crafts most of his components by himself (literally everything but the watch cases, and a few movement components such as the mainspring or the jewels). Finished to an impressive level, his watches are impeccable, elevating the art of watchmaking to the highest level.
The first watch of this trilogy, the Hervé Schlüchter L’Essentiel, is dedicated to the children and to their inclination to live for today (Hic Hodie or today now as engraved in Latin on the 24-hour disc sun) and to their direct connection to the essential joy of life. It is a 39mm round watch with dissociated time indications, making for what Schlüchter calls a philosophical regulator. The hours are displayed by an aventurine 24-hour rotating disc with night and day indications. The minutes are shown at the centre of the watch and the seconds are at 6 o’clock.
The dial’s main plate is made of German silver and is engine turned – Hervé Schlüchter has acquired two antique rose engines. The small second sub-dial is enamelled. The thin steel hands are crafted in-house and are thermally blued.
Turning the watch over, the exhibition caseback allows you to discover a superb movement, whose elegant architecture is graced by exceptional finishes and beautiful details. The barrel provides up to 60 hours of power reserve. The wolf-toothing of the ratchet and crown wheels is another nice touch. The click spring follows the shape of the barrel bridge and is black polished.
The bridges and main-plate are made of maillechort (German silver) and stainless steel. These are impressively decorated with anglage, sinks or chatons. In particular, the bridges for the gear train (one per wheel) are all fashioned out of steel and their arms are rounded off. The delicate technique implies creating a perfectly uniform round shape along their entire length while retaining a clear demarcation with the mirror-polished centre and heels.
The large balance has distinctive weights and adjustment weights. Beating at 18,000 vibrations per hour, it features a Breguet hairspring. It works in conjunction with a moustache anchor whose counterweight aims at more balance and better impulsion – certainly not fashionable today but so beautiful. The swan-neck is superbly shaped and finished. And for the watch wearer, a stop second allows for precise setting.
The Hervé Schlüchter L’Essentiel is presented on a hand-sewn alligator leather strap with a red alligator lining, closed by a steel pin buckle. It is released via a subscription process, however, all 25 watches have already been sold – at a price of CHF 78,000 – and the production should keep Hervé Schlüchter and his team busy at least for the next 2 to 3 years.
For more information, please visit www.herve-schluchter.ch.