More than an ordinary watch, the Haute Horlogerie is an extremely elaborate work of miniature art, possessing a “crazy” craftsmanship that defines rigor.
Haute Horlogerie the pinnacle of craftsmanship of noble blood watches
If Haute Couture proves the luxury and elegance of the needle line; Haute Joaillerie is the pride of high-end jewelry , while Haute Horlogerie is likened to a science, requiring meticulousness and precision on every millimeter of a “time machine”. Learn with ELLE the history and how the world’s oldest watch brands create Haute Horlogerie!
Widely used in the late seventies , Haute Horlogerie is a term used by traditional Swiss mechanical watch companies as a response to the quartz crisis. (quartz) is also known as an electronic working clock.
The quartz watch crisis refers to the widespread explosion of modern battery-powered watches by American and Japanese brands. These new innovations invaded the market and caused a series of Swiss and German mechanical watch manufacturers to “struggle”, even to cut workers and close shop.
However, by the 80 ‘s, despite the convenience and affordability of quartz watches, there was still a small loyal customer base willing to pay high prices for traditional watches. Seeing that, the “big guys” in the industry such as Cartier , Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin, etc. have continued to produce classic designs . This is the foundation for today’s luxury watch market.
Derived from the French word , Haute Horlogerie (High Horology in English) can be understood as the art of making watches of the highest quality. However, determining whether a watch reaches the “level” of Haute Horlogerie remains ambiguous and has not been standardized. Not all expensive watches are Haute Horlogerie. In fact, we have to consider the entire process from start to finish of the product.
Possessing complex mechanical and functional mechanisms is the most important criterion for becoming a Haute Horlogerie. The complex function is divided into three main groups: sound group (alarm, repeater), astronomical group (perpetual calendar, equation of time, stellar time) and time group (stopwatch, split seconds, smoothness of the seconds hand).
In addition, we have the tourbillon, a small mechanism that helps the time to be displayed more accurately, often appearing on the faces of expensive watches because of its high aesthetic. In theory, a Haute Horlogerie design should feature “all” of the above functional groups (Grand Complication) to showcase the brand’s ultimate craftsmanship.
Mastering the assembly of one of the three functional groups takes years of practice and honing on the part of the craftsman. This leads to a limited number of brands that qualify to enter the Haute Horlogerie game: Patek Philippe, Vacheron Constantin and Augemars Piguet – considered the “old” trio of the “universe” of high-end watches. In addition, other names include A. Lange & Söhn, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Ulysse Nardin, Jacquet Droz, Bovet and Breguet.
Not only the complexity of the movement, the Haute Horlogerie also requires sophistication in the finishing and decoration, often made entirely by hand with extreme care and ingenuity. Each watch is a miniature work of art. Decorative techniques include polishing, hollow carving, glazing, chamfering, engraving, brushing, repeating, circular, Geneva wave patterns , etc. Some techniques are centuries old and preserved. passed down through many generations. Others, although recently invented or further improved, are equally sophisticated.
The Malte Tourbillon Openworked design consists of 246 components completed entirely by hand using traditional techniques. This has earned the watch the Geneva seal – considered one of the most prestigious certifications in high-end watchmaking. In addition, to demonstrate the standard of finishing, the Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres (COSC) certification is also coveted by many brands. In addition, Patek Philippe or Parmigiani Fleurie will have internal seals such as the Patek Philippe Seal and Qualité Fleurie.
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