There is an inextricable link between cars and watches. It isn’t as simple as saying that “People who love watches also love cars” or the other way around, there is something more to it. Something deeper. Perhaps it is the immediate sense of belonging that a fine watch or fine car brings out in its owners? You fall in love with one brand and that’s it. Once you “join the team” you stay with the team for a long, long time. It isn’t about brand loyalty – people switch brands; billions of marketing dollars are spent to ensure we do. It is about the “thing”; the watch, the car, music, a whole list of things that enter our lives that we continue to obsess over until we are too old and too grey to obsess anymore. It could be Ferrari, as easily as it could be Audemars Piguet, as easily as it could be Manchester United.
“I’m in love with my car”
I’ve already written about how my first car represented my first taste of freedom. My first love affair with cars occurred at around the same time as my first love affair with a watch. Looking back, there wasn’t much in common with my picture of a red Lamborghini Countach in the Alpine car-stereo ad and my red Armitron Day’n’Dream watch (other than their shared colour). But from that point in time, I knew I loved cars and I knew that I loved watches.
I think most of the other folks here at MONOCHROME have similar stories and we’re very lucky that we can indulge both sides of the fantasy. Today we were all standing around the water fountain chatting about something absolutely unique. French watchmaker John-Mikael Flaux has taken the automotive/timekeeping metaphor in a different direction. Instead of making a mechanical, wind-up toy or a mechanical watch shaped like part of a car, he has made a car that is powered by a hand-wound mechanical movement that literally tells time by way of the distance it travels.
Wind the Car Clock by way of the key where the hand-crank would go on a vintage automobile and watch as it “rolls” the time away on a read-out on the hub of the rubber clad rear wheels. The balance wheel roars to life where you’d typically expect to find a cooling fan in a real engine. The mainspring and other gears mime the camshafts and crankshaft of an internal combustion engine. Power is sent to the rear-wheels via differential which takes its motion from the driveshaft running through the centre of the car.
Time is set with (you guessed it) the steering-wheel as it sits in the sumptuous leather-appointed cockpit. The 11 jewelled, lever escapement-powered car has enough power reserve to roll across your desk or mantle for 8-days at a rate of approximately 30cm per day. Don’t worry about your unique and individualized Car Clock crashing to the ground – it comes with its own dynamometer to keep it safe.
Each clock is made to order and made by hand. The movements and dashboards are crafted in the same tradition of the finest clocks with finely cut gears and delicately finished in an engine-turned pattern. The body panels of the car are formed out of aluminium and once again finished by hand in blue or red lacquer.
Velocity = distance/time
What is the content of all of my saved searches on eBay? Cars and watches (and fountain pens). Perhaps it is the mechanical link between the inner workings of a fine clock or watch and the similarity to a differential or a transmission? It could be that in their highest forms both cars and watches are expressions of the creativity and ingenuity of the artists who build them. Or maybe it has to do with the way we experience speed as a function of time and the link to how we experience time relative to our own personal journey. More details on www.john-mikael-flaux.com.