Recently, I learned firsthand to never again take for granted the faithful functionality of my mechanical watches. Given the opportunity to sit down at a watchmaker’s bench and use the tiny tools to painstakingly and precisely attach wheels and jewels to a stripped-down baseplate, it became extremely clear just how much concentration, dexterity, and patience — not to mention plain old horological knowledge — was required to put together a caliber from scratch and to make it hum. Of course, I had a knowledgeable watchmaker named Ines looking over my shoulder, and my workbench was not in some sterile atelier in Switzerland but on a balcony at New York’s Cipriani Dolci restauarant, overlooking the rush-hour bustle of Grand Central Terminal’s main concourse.
The unusual event, in which members of the press were invited to get up close and personal with several of Girard-Perregaux’s talented — and youngest — watchmakers in one-on-one workshops, was held to launch the brand’s new print and online journal, The New Face of Tradition: Eight Young Watchmakers and the Art of Making Time, and the beginning of its Young Watchmakers’ Tour. Girard-Perregaux created the journal to throw a spotlight on what Michele Sofisti, CEO of the Sowind Group, which owns Girard-Perregaux, believes are some of the company’s greatest assets: the young watchmakers themselves, who, as the journal reveals, also have a diverse range of interests and talents, from performing rock ‘n’ roll music to mastering puzzles to motorbike racing. (Ines Patoz, the watchmaker I was paired up with, has been horseback riding since age five.)
“Too often brands hide their talented watchmakers behind the curtains of their manufactures”, Sofisti said. “We are proud of the young artists who share our passion for watchmaking with and are excited to show to the world who they are. The New Face of Tradition seeks to break away from the current image many people have of the craft. It is not an antique (and certainly not a dead) art; it is young, revitalized and constantly evolving, much like the people behind it.”
In addition to the hands-on workshops — which drew intrigued glances from otherwise jaded New Yorkers at its kickoff in Grand Central last week, not to mention at several other iconic venues where the watchmakers temporarily set up shop for photo ops — the tour will feature Girard-Perregaux’s new models for 2012 as well as historical pieces from the brand’s archives. Later this year, G-P’s youth movement — or, should I say, its movement-making youth — travels to Beijing, Paris, and several other international cities. You can see the journal online at www.TheNewFaceofTradition.com.
Want to see the photo shoot for the above images? Click below for Girard-Perregaux’s video.
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