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Father's Day - An Ode To Fathers

Father's Day An Ode To Fathers

This coming Sunday, we celebrate some very important people in life…

 

Around this time last year, I was deep in the process of writing a number of profiles for the Millennium Watch Book, profiles which formed part of the Who’s Who chapter, a list of the defining personalities in the 21st-century watch world. (If you haven’t got your copy yet, may I be permitted to say that it makes an excellent Father’s Day gift?)

While discussing the book recently with a friend, the Who’s Who chapter became a topic of conversation, and this naturally led us to work out a list of people who we might describe as the fathers of the watch world — both historically and in the modern day.

Having only a glancing knowledge of horological history, I really only know the names of watchmakers from before the 20th century if their names or inventions still persist today, such as Ferdinand Berthoud, Thomas Earnshaw, John Harrison, Adolph Ferdinand Lange, or Antoine LeCoultre. The most prominent name in watchmaking history is, of course, Abraham-Louis Breguet, whose most famous invention (the tourbillon) is our focus for the month of June, who popularised the plates-and-bridges movement construction that we still use today, and whose name is preserved in his company, one of the crown jewels of the Swatch Group, Montres Breguet.

An Ode To Fathers

Abraham-Louis Breguet © Breguet

I’ve said before that Breguet is perhaps the only watch company that can claim two great lines of horological ancestry, the first coming from Abraham-Louis Breguet himself. The second one comes two centuries later, from the man credited with resuscitating the Swiss watch industry after the Quartz Crisis — the late Nicolas George Hayek, founder of the Swatch Group, who acquired Montres Breguet in 1999 and personally oversaw its return to prestige watchmaking.

The last decades of the 20th century in watchmaking were shaped by such men: Nicolas G. Hayek, Günther Blümlein, Jean-Claude Biver, Philippe Stern, Rolf Schnyder, Luigi “Gino” Macaluso. They were industrialists, reconstructionists and visionaries who redrew the foundations of a decimated world and created the watch world that we know today. In the new millennium, a new and avant-garde style of independent watchmaking arose. Although it has more than its fair share of incandescent talent and innovators, this little slice of the watch world would likely still be known only among a small sect of high-end watch aficionados if not for someone called Maximilian Büsser. As CEO of Harry Winston Timepieces (particularly as originator of its Opus Project) and founder of MB&F, he effectively poured nitro into the fuel tank of independent watchmaking in terms of visibility and awareness.

If you love watches and mechanical watchmaking, keep in mind these great men who gave new life to this world, and remember them this Sunday as we celebrate fathers — both biological and spiritual. For more suggestions of how to express thanks to the fathers in your life, don’t forget to check out our little selection of watches for Father’s Day, coming out tomorrow.

 

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