It won’t have escaped the more attentive observer that the Maîtres du Temps logo has been completed by the words “Atelier d’Horlogerie”, a watchmaker’s workshop. Adding these words would have seemed completely out of character not so long ago, given the very concept of the brand. Since its creation in 2008 by Steven Holtzman, a man who made his reputation distributing the elite names in Swiss watchmaking throughout the United States, Maîtres du Temps has always functioned as a network, coordinating the manufacture of rare timepieces which are imagined and developed in collaboration with the profession’s stellar independent watchmakers. The likes of Christophe Claret, Peter Speake-Marin, Daniel Roth, Andreas Strehler and Kari Voutilainen. An exceptional line-up for exceptional watches, as described below:
The Maîtres du Temps story so far
• Chapter One (tonneau and round): the first wristwatch ever to propose, in addition to hours and minutes, a tourbillon with seconds indication, monopusher chronograph, retrograde date and GMT, plus day of the week and moon phases on rollers;
• Chapter Two (tonneau and round): indicates hours, minutes and small seconds alongside one of the most legible mechanical triple calendars available, with large date in an aperture, and day and month spelled out on rollers;
• Chapter Three (round): indicates hours, minutes, small seconds, date and moon phases, in addition to a day/night indication and second time zone on rollers behind concealed panels in the dial which are lowered by pressing a pusher in the crown.
There are no plans as yet for a Chapter Four. Instead the brand came to Baselworld 2014 with variations on its existing watches, including the Chapter One Tonneau Transparence Titanium C1-3T, eleven of which will be made. The complexity of the movement, composed of 558 parts, can be seen through the sapphire crystal that replaces the dial. “We’ve somewhat reviewed our priorities,” says Chief Executive Walter Ribaga. “We haven’t ruled out the possibility of a Chapter Four in a more or less near future, but first we must build on what we already have. A small brand such as Maîtres du Temps doesn’t burst onto the scene overnight. It’s a long, drawn-out process. Imagine that it took almost three years of development and substantial investment to produce the Chapter Three. We have to build on that.”
A new assembly workshop
With some twenty points of sale spread evenly across the main export markets, and production of 190 to 220 watches a year, Maîtres du Temps has tweaked its business model. Henceforth, the three styles must be clearly identified as a distinct approach to fine watchmaking: grande complication, avant-garde and classic for Chapters One, Two and Three respectively. Investment will now focus on production.
“We have set up an assembly workshop staffed by three highly qualified watchmakers,” continues Mr Ribaga. “They can assemble some fifty Chapter Three watches a year from kits supplied by Andreas Strehler. The Chapter One watches are made at Christophe Claret and Chapter Two at Vaucher Manufacture. For us it’s about bolstering our independence and giving a new anchorage to the brand, as our logo shows.” This is not the only change: there will no longer be quite so much emphasis on the watchmakers behind each Chapter. From now on, the name in the spotlight is Maîtres du Temps.