At MONOCHROME, we are always happy to present new watchmaking talents and their work. 21-year-old Remy Cools is one of them. A recent graduate of the Lycée Edgar Faure in Morteau, a French town next to the Swiss border, Remy is one of the winners of the 2018 young talent awards given by F.P. Journe. Quite an impressive background for such a young man who has absorbed the knowledge and applied it in the metal. His watch, the montre d’école tourbillon (school watch in French) is well worth a look.
The montre d’école is the watch Cools completed in order to graduate as a watchmaker, following six years spent at the Lycée Edgar Faure. He produced it almost entirely on his own, crafting the case, the hands and the movement (partly using the gear train of a calibre 6497/Unitas). Overall, it required over 800 hours of (mostly hand) work!
Among his sources of inspiration, Cools mentions great masters of the past such as Breguet or Houriet and contemporary watchmakers such as Daniels or F.P. Journe. Still, his montre d’école is unique and very personal. While obviously incorporating classic shapes and elements, its design feels modern. The clean, simple aesthetics place the emphasis on depth and dimension. The hours and minutes are offset so that the large tourbillon can be staged to full effect, rotating above the main plate. The finishing is elaborate yet restrained.
The watch is powered by a hand-wound movement reminiscent of those found in pocket watches. The gear train is that of a calibre 6497 but the oscillator has been replaced by a large one-minute tourbillon. The escape-wheel and anchor of the 6497 have been modified. Ticking at a traditional 18,000 vibrations per hour, the 13mm bi-metallic free-sprung balance wheel comes from a 1900s pocket watch. The rest was all handcrafted by Cools, including the hairspring and its Phillips terminal curve.
The ébauche of the main-plate and the bridges have been fashioned from brass with the CNC machine of his watchmaking school and then finished with a jig-boring machine. Cools mentions that the traditional design of the stepped bridges is a nod to the works of George Daniels.
All the flat surfaces of the movement are grained, the bridges are rhodium-plated and the plate is gold-plated. The angles are superbly hand-chamfered. All the flat surfaces of the steel parts are black-polished. Altogether, a combination of traditional decorations and modern inspiration.
Measuring 42mm in diameter, the 316L steel case is topped with an impressive, highly domed crystal giving pride of place to the movement and its exposed tourbillon. It features no crown but two symmetrical flip-up keys at the back of the watch to wind the movement and set the time. When completing his project, Cools had to incorporate a different winding/setting mechanism to his project, instead of the classical crown/keyless work combination.
The hours and minutes indication provides a perfect counterpoint to the tourbillon. The Breguet-style hands have been crafted by hand. These are blued-steel and mounted on a chaton.
We wish all the best to Remy Cools for his promising watchmaking career. But for now, hats-off to this remarkable Tourbillon montre d’école. For more information and pictures about Remy Cools work, www.instagram.com/remycools.