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GPHG - Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève
GPHG 2015 - Round Table: Mechanical Exception

GPHG 2015 Round Table: Mechanical Exception

One model stands out for the majority of our tripartite panel, with the third member torn between two other watches.

Paul O’Neil, editor in chief, WorldTempus
In this category, there is a clear split between pure mechanical and “design mechanical” from the likes of Hautlence and HYT, possibly even with a hint of “original mechanical” from De Witt with its hands-free Academia Mathematical model. But my vote goes to the Jaquet Droz Charming Bird, which has succeeded in miniaturizing the automaton technology from the brand’s history to a size that has allowed it to be incorporated into a wristwatch complete with a whistle system that mimics the bird’s song. It is indeed the mechanical exception, since there is no other model like this.

jaquet droz

David Chokron, WorldTempus contributor
Calling upon a glorious past is a tried and tested method in watchmaking. But the result is often illusory, anecdotal or just downright insufficient. In the case of the Charming Bird, the past of Jaquet Droz is brought up to date with a thoroughly modern efficiency. In the 18th century, the Jaquet Droz brothers were renowned for their automata and singing birds. The Charming Bird is the resurrection of this concept that was long thought unsuitable for adaptation in a wristwatch. Inside the case the bird flutters and sings just like it would in a cage fifty times the size. He could have just chirped and ruffled its feathers. But its singing is powerful and harmonious and, above all, it lasts long. And while it is singing, the bird twists and turns in all directions, from left to right. The mechanical performance is an accomplishment, the animal is animated and the name Jaquet Droz fully deserves its place on this unique watch.

Olivier Müller, WorldTempus contributor
The Mechanical Exception category is the toughest to call. What is exceptional and what isn’t? Two watches stand out for me, each different from the other: the Christophe Claret Maestoso and the Hautlence Vortex. The former deals in perfection, taking the detent escapement from marine chronometers and adapting it to a wristwatch inside which beats a cylindrical hairspring. It’s a watch for the ultra-purist and a concentrate of technical mastery that is aimed at aesthetes of fine watchmaking in the new millennium.

Christophe Claret

At the other extreme, the Hautlence Vortex. What does it remind you of? Without question, nothing from the world of watchmaking at least. It has an audacious case shape, a regulating organ that turns through 60 degrees every 60 minutes, jumping hours and retrograde minute, all in a surprisingly wearable case size. It’s superb! And according to those in the know at MELB, it has excellent isochronism. 


Vote for your favourite watch in the Mechanical Exception category in our readers' poll.

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