Christophe Claret has done it again. For its twentieth anniversary, the Manufacture took the world of horology by surprise with the unveiling of the DualTow, a profoundly masculine, highly technical, imposing timepiece which incorporated a good many of the brand’s complications. Now the company is back in the spotlight with a very different watch of more modest dimensions – 34mm in diameter – and a softer, more musical harmony: the Adagio. This new watch reinvents what is possibly the most beautiful complication of all: the minute-repeater (with cathedral gong). Joining it are a second time zone and large date on a hand-worked guilloché dial in a choice of charcoal rhodium-plated gold or precious or semi-precious stones (ruby, lapis lazuli, black onyx, jade or opal).
Patented cathedral gong
As one would imagine, with the exception of certain components such as the mainspring, balance spring and jewels, the entire movement has been made in-house. Particular care has of course been afforded to the patented gong. While the exact nature of the system remains a closely-guarded secret, suffice to say the gongs will not touch if knocked, thereby preventing any untimely and inharmonious sound from being produced. Equal care has gone into the actual making of the gongs, in extruded steel. Quality also prevails in the assembly and tuning of the gongs, the design of the case, and the transmission between movement and case. Christophe Claret speaks with confidence, not conceit: “Because we master the entire process, we can offer one of the most accomplished minute-repeaters on the market.”
More generally and from a strategic standpoint, the Adagio, like the DualTow, sets a milestone in the company’s development. While its core business remains the conception, development and manufacture of high-end movements for some twenty prestigious names, from now on it will also produce, at regular intervals, timepieces in its own name. “This is an important aspect of our strategy to diversify. It means we’ve been able to offset the effects of economic downturn and the drop in orders,” the watchmaker explains.
In a similar vein, the Le Locle-based firm recently announced a new venture manufacturing components for third parties, as always at the high end of the market. “We can perform high-precision turning, burnishing, CNC cutting, tempering, polishing, even laser cutting. We’re actually pioneers in the latter.” Production of additional modules is another new activity. As Claret points out, “they will be compatible with most existing base movements and at the same time have an original concept with high added value while remaining competitive versus watches with a comparably innovative mechanism.”
In a word, the crisis that shook the watch industry these past two years hasn’t got the better of Christophe Claret. On the contrary: the Manufacture is using cashflow to further invest, particularly in machinery. Its sixteen-axis CNC machine, for example, is the only one in the branch. “Everything we imagine, everything we build is for the long term,” concludes Christophe Claret, who clearly has faith in the future.