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21st Century Pocket Watches
January 17, 2011 Models

21st century pocket watches

In a small workshop nestled under the roof of the Audemars Piguet Museum, Jean-Charles Bratschi makes old-fashioned pocket watches. It takes him almost a year to build these exceptional timepieces that are highly prized by collectors.

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Taking a pocket watch out of one’s waistcoat pocket to give a passer-by the time: this gesture, outdated for some, is still practiced with pleasure by several watch enthusiasts. Alone in his workshop, a glass-walled room on the top floor of the Audemars Piguet Museum, Jean-Charles Bratschi creates pocket watches in their entirety using traditional craftsmanship. “Among the typical models, for example, I am making a minute repeater with a perpetual calendar, a chronograph and a split-seconds. They can be housed in yellow, pink, or grey gold, in titanium or in platinum, depending on the request.”

It’s an extremely long fabrication process, because it takes about nine months to complete a model. “I may have to adjust the 638 parts that make up a repeater watch several times to be sure that it’s working perfectly. Even to the point of refashioning some of the parts.". His creations are prized by collectors. Some even come to the workshop to meet the master watchmaker himself. Bratschi remembers a sixty-year old American who wore a vest with his Audemars Piguet Grand Complication, like an apparition from another era. “He told me that he was a member of a club of grand complication owners. They met regularly to proudly show off their treasures, as if they were collectible toy trains or valuable stamps”, smiled the specialist, who has been working for Audemars Piguet for 31 years. Although he doesn’t think pocket watches will catch on again any time soon, he is determined to act as a guardian of this disappearing ancestral know-how and heritage.