A chat with Christophe Claret

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Christophe Claret has long been the supplier of high horology movements to a great number of brands, including including Bovet, Breguet, Cartier, Chopard, Corum, Girard Perregaux, Harry Winston, Jorg Hysek and Parmigiani. Last year he unveiled the DualTow (shown below), the first watch under his own brand name (if we exclude the music box repeater from a few years back). I interviewed him in 2010 and here is a condensed version.

On his beginnings in 1986: “I was one of the first [independent watchmakers at Basel], along with Andersen, Calabrese, Journe, Muller and Daniels. Mr Schnyder came to see [my repeater] and he asked if I could make a minute repeater with San Marco jacquemart; I said ‘Why not?'” Claret’s production: “We make 46 different calibres and sell to 16 brands. We make 120 movements [a year]; with 46 different calibres that is a very small number per calibre.” On the tourbillon: “The tourbillon is interesting because it is something you can look at. The tourbillon moves, there is animation [and] movement. That is why many collectors like it. [But] the tourbillon is the most simple [movement] of my production. It is a very nice complication, but for me it’s not very technical. This is why many people like to make [tourbillon watches] – to make money.” Repeaters: “The know-how [to make good repeaters] is very rare. You must understand it is not enough to have a good movement with a strong hammer and good gong. You must have a good transmission of sound through the case; you need a good case [construction] for good transmission of sound outside the case. The worst [case for a repeater] I think is platinum. White gold and pink gold is better. Steel and titanium are even better.” Technology in production: “Sometimes I use a very expensive machine, but the progress and technology [it gives us] is important, as we can make a better movement. For example, we used to have CNC machine that took 25 minutes to cut a piece, now we can do it in 25 seconds. It is faster, but it is also better for the quality because you don’t have to spend time filing [away the burrs]. Better quality, better precision and faster. [But] it is not enough to buy the machine, you need many good workers, you need the savoir faire to make the machine run properly.”

– SJX 

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