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Golay Spierer - Heroïca Tempus and how to not forget the past

Golay Spierer Heroïca Tempus and how to not forget the past

The capsule collection Heroïca Tempus rewinds time.

A gold standard when it comes to bespoke watches, Golay Spierer aims for excellence, creativity and exclusivity, all with great forethought. “Anyone can ask for a custom-made watch, for example one with their grandfather’s signature,” says Christophe Golay, co-founder of the brand. Taking one’s time to create exceptional, handcrafted pieces is the only way of working for the Swiss maison, which is why the company has produced a limited number of timepieces (just over 130) since its creation in Geneva in 2001.

Heroïca Tempus ou comment ne pas oublier le passé

Christophe Golay © Golay Spierer

This year, Golay Spierer is expanding with the creation of a capsule collection, Heroïca Tempus. Dedicated to historical figures, this collection will begin with a unique timepiece paying homage to Napoleon Bonaparte. Initially approached by Gaël Bonnel Sanchez, a French creative talent who specializes in creating new and unique objects (and who imagined this first model), Christophe Golay was immediately taken by the idea of “associating a moment in history with watchmaking”. As the opening salvo for this collection, the first piece honours the 250th anniversary of the famous emperor’s birth by bearing the signature he affixed to his letter dated on 4 March 1807, addressed to General Clarke during the Polish Campaign.

Heroïca Tempus ou comment ne pas oublier le passé

© Golay Spierer

The signature and imperial bee were cut out of the letter by Marianne Dubuis, a Swiss craftswoman who specialises in paper cutting, then encased in a pink gold case 46 mm in diameter and 9 mm thick. The choice of this precious metal gives the watch an antique look, in keeping with its historical spirit. Moreover, gold was (and still is) a precious material very widely used in the upper echelons of society of past eras, especially by emperors such as Napoleon. Christophe Golay said that finding a signature adapted to the size of a watch was a real challenge, which in part explains the generous size of the case. On the caseback, a 20-franc gold Napoleon coin (minted the same year as the signature) completes the creation. The strap is made of black alligator leather with gold trim and red calf leather lining. This combination of colours is reminiscent of the uniform of the mounted soldiers of the time, known as “hussars”.

Heroïca Tempus ou comment ne pas oublier le passé

© Golay Spierer

The box this watch is offered in is just as breath taking as the timepiece itself, and for good reason: it contains the rest of the letter from which the signature on the watch’s dial comes from. The watch case is in the shape of a book, with the rest of the letter placed on the “back cover”, while the watch is placed on the right side of the “book”, inside a cut out that was made in the pages to make room for it.

Heroïca Tempus ou comment ne pas oublier le passé

Napoleon Bonaparte watch © Golay Spierer

It takes about a year’s work to create a piece with so much history. For the Napoleon Bonaparte watch, whose assembly was completed in mid-March of this year, the first discussions on its creation had begun on 2 January, 2019, Christophe Golay told us. Designing such a piece takes time due to the number of people involved in the process: some twenty craftsmen worked on the piece, including an expert in signature authentication and the paper cutter, Marianne Dubuis.

Heroïca Tempus ou comment ne pas oublier le passé

Napoleon Bonaparte watch (back) © Golay Spierer

Each year two historical figures will be honoured to expand the Heroïca Tempus collection and each figure will only be interpreted once—in other words, Golay Spierer will not create a second timepiece dedicated to Napoleon. So, if you are interested in this one, be present at the auction in autumn where it will go under the hammer. As for the rest of the collection, Christophe Golay has revealed the figures that will be featured in the next two pieces: the second will be dedicated to Albert Einstein and the third to Empress Elisabeth of Austria. The watch honouring the theoretical physicist will be revealed this year, while the one for the empress will be presented next year. Dedicating a piece to the Empress “Sissi” is of particular interest to Christophe Golay, as one of his ancestors attempted to come to her aid during her assassination in Geneva in 1898.

Always fond of new ideas and inspirations, Christophe Golay asked me which historical figure I would personally choose for a watch. I told him that my choice, influenced by my studies of Hispanic literature, would be Spanish novelist, poet and playwright Miguel de Cervantes, a name Golay did not fail to note. Will he bring this man from the past back into the present as he does with his other creations from the Heroïca Tempus collection? Only time will tell.

Heroïca Tempus


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