URWERK and Jean-Vincent Huguenin, the story of a meeting
Geneva-January 2009. Today URWERK, in collaboration with master engraver Jean-Vincent Huguenin, presents a new line in their Edition Spéciale collection. The relationship between URWERK and Jean-Vincent Huguenin began with their first collaboration in 1996, however, it reaches a new level with this dedicated collection. The models proposed are freely inspired by a « Art Déco » and strongly exhibit the contrasts of modernism and tradition, symmetry and natural forms. These designs fuse the horological expertise of URWERK and the artistic talent of Jean-Vincent Huguenin creating an elegant modern timepiece.
Vincent Huguenin - About pugnacity
« It was at the end of the 1990s, in the atelier of a friend, the automat creator François Junod, where I first met the Baumgartner brothers. At this time, in a fairly conformist horological landscape, only very few passionate watchmakers pursued the craft of their illustrious predecessors in regard to the intrepid art of horology.
For this reason, the founders of URWERK immediately seduced me with their, sometimes crazy, ideas for time telling machines. The aesthetics of the outdated Sputnik, the sensuous lines of famous sports cars, or the shapes of mythical spaceships, these all contributed to an authentic philosophical base. The latter was contrary to what I was generally familiar with, which was an intellectual band-aid applied by an inventive salesman.
With strong parallel dreams, we began a collaboration that has lasted a long time, during which Martin Frei et Félix Baumgartner have managed to incarnate their fantasies in the intransigent domain of haute horlogerie. It was finally their force of pugnacity and endurance that earned them the respect of their colleagues. »
Felix Baumgartner - Gold in his hands
« I was training with François Junod in Ste Croix when I was first introduced to Jean-Vincent Huguenin: a man with both a strong personality and a strong presence. An engraver, he spoke of his passion with enthusiasm and from his heart. I liked the man and was already persuaded by his talent before I had even seen his work.
Then, when I had the opportunity to see his designs and realisations, I saw that Jean-Vincent Huguenin was one of the rare, if not the only, artist to master such incredible techniques. From an idea he can extrapolate a universe, recreate an ambiance, bring a drawing to life. It is the work of a true artist. This man has gold between his hands, that is sure.
We always wanted to work with Jean-Vincent and after Martin and I realised that our watches were ideal for engraved decorations we seized the opportunity of collaborating with a true master. Jean-Vincent’s craftsmanship allowed us to rediscover our creations; the watches are not just engraved, they look sculptured, and his work has a intriguing depth. Jean-Vincent is the only person I know with the power to create three-dimensional designs - it is his signature! »
Jean-Vincent Huguenin - Maître Graveur & Automatier
“The style is the man”: an artist expresses his own personality through a unique style of writing, composing or drawing. The artist thereby distinguishes himself from the craftsman, who reproduces tried-and-tested models while the artist creates new ones bearing his own mark. Jean-Vincent Huguenin, hand engraver & creator of automatons, is both a craftsman & an artist. An independent artist, he is part of a dynasty of watchmakers – his father was a press tool maker while his grandfather was a watchmaker – and engravers dating back two centuries, from whom he inherited the know-how, the workbench and the tools. His years of training at the School of Applied Arts allowed him to acquire the confident and precise dexterity essential to the perfection of his work: engraving with a burin on areas the size of a watch casing, an oscillating mass or an ornate dial is high-precision work where no line can be redrawn. Jean-Vincent Huguenin is an artist: his creations are based on original drawings, sometimes using living models. In the profession, he is one of the few people who combine this mastery of drawing with the mastery of engraving techniques; he is an engraver in full control of his style, in both senses of the word – artistic and technical for, originally, style meant a metallic punch used to write or draw, in an indented manner, on tablets coated with wax.
The anachronism of time Today, nothing is more precious than time. What luxury can be greater than owning a unique timepiece? Jean-Vincent Huguenin has the – rare – ability of bringing that touch of individuality to the mechanisms of the greatest watchmakers. The Master Engraver begins by producing sketches and preparatory designs; he alters and reworks them as many times as necessary. Only then does he begin the delicate work of engraving, using a burin, on the different components of the watch. Each creation is different and requires all the talent and attention of Jean-Vincent Huguenin for about one month. Fewer than twenty unique pieces leave his workshop every year; the portrait of a loved one, abstract or realist patterns, risqué scenes or illustrations making the watch an intimate and exclusive object. Owning an ornate watch carefully decorated by this artist means belonging to one of the most privileged circles there are.
URWERK edition spéciale for URWERK
Collaboration on a human scale Since 1995, Jean-Vincent Huguenin has worked in close collaboration with Félix Baumgartner, watchmaker and founder of the URWERK house, who, together with the designer Martin Frei, has rethought watches, in particular the time display, in a series of innovative creations which are at the heart of the growing renown of this house today. Part of this exclusive production (some 200 pieces/ year) is devoted to the creation of unique, engraved models. In 2006, this collaboration came to fruition with the launch of a range of engraved watches: URWERK - J.-V. Huguenin. Through a number of unique pieces, these original creations pay homage to the great civilisations which were fascinated by man and the measurement of time: China, Sumer, the city of Ur (the very origin of URWERK), Egypt, ...