WatchTime Los Angeles: Meet the VIP Watchmakers

WatchTime Los Angeles, the West Coast’s biggest watch-collector extravaganza, kicks off on May 3, boasting more than 25 luxury watch brands as well as several of the watchmaking world’s rock stars and creative visionaries. Here are five of the boldfaced names of horology that you’ll have a chance to meet this weekend during the two-day event at Downtown L.A.’s Hudson Loft. (Click here for more info and tickets.)

Romain Gauthier is the head of his eponymous 13-year old firm. Trained and certified as a constructor of precision machinery, Romain initially did not intend to make a career in the watch world, yet it drew him in anyways and he’s now one of the most well-regarded makers in this close-knit industry. Two years after founding his brand, he unveiled the first watches, called Prestige HM. Today, the brand offers four in-house-made calibers: Prestige HM, Prestige HMS (launched in 2010), Logical One (unveiled in 2013, the same year it won the GPHG award for Best Men’s Complication), and the Insight Micro-Rotor, which made its debut at Baselworld 2017 and was updated the following year in black and natural titanium versions. At this year’s Baselworld, Romain introduced a new Logical One model with a white-gold case with baguette-cut diamonds, a new Insight Micro-Rotor piece with a blue enamel dial, and a stainless steel version of the Prestige HMS with a meteorite dial. Check out our profile of Romain Gauthier here.

Romain Gauthier

Working out of the historic horological heartland of Lancaster County, PA, Roland G. Murphy is best known as the leading face of American watchmaking in the 21st century. Originally from Baltimore, Roland is a WOSTEP-trained watchmaker who shocked the industry after deciding he wanted to make a mechanical watch movement completely produced in America. In 2008, he accomplished this with the unveiling of the RGM Caliber 801, which he describes as being the first high-grade mechanical watch movement produced in the United States in four decades. Since that success a decade ago, RGM has released a number of new watches each year including the square William Penn Limited Edition, which Roland showcased at WatchTime New York 2018, and this year’s Pennsylvania Series 801-CE Classic Enamel, which will make its public debut at WatchTime L.A. You can check out our profile of Murphy from 2015 here.

Roland G. Murphy
Roland G. Murphy at WatchTime New York 2017

Just over a dozen years ago, Kari Voutilainen was a horological ghostwriter, working anonymously for various high-end watch brands. Except for the few, one-of-a-kind pieces he made under his own label, his work bore the names of others. Today, Kari is one of the most well-known names on the independent watchmaking scene, specializing in small-series and one-off watches — and also lending his expertise to other independent firms like Armin Strom and MB&F. He is admired by collectors for his versatility (he has made tourbillons, repeaters, chronographs, GMT watches, watches with detent escapements, and more), for the quality of his finishing, and for his ability and willingness to custom-make watches for individual collectors. At WatchTime New York 2018, Kari showed off the innovative 217QRS; this year he will wow the WatchTime L.A. crowd with the new 28ti, a titanium-cased timepiece with a visible dial-side movement. You can learn more about him in our profile here.

Kari Voutilainen at WatchTime New York 2017

Jean-François Mojon, founder of Chronode, a renowned designer and developer of specialty movements and modules, is a watchmaking mastermind who has collaborated with a number of brands, contributing horological savoir faire to such pieces as the Harry Winston Opus X, the MB&F Legacy Machine No. 1, the original HYT H1, and more recently, the Hermès Arçeau L’Heure de la Lune. Mojon is the designer behind the iconoclastic timepieces of Swiss micro-brand Cyrus, which will be exhibiting for the first time at a WatchTime event and showcasing its new Klepcys Vertical Skeleton Tourbillon (details here). Fascinated by engineering from a young age, Jean-Francois’s interest in watchmaking was sparked by his father, who worked in the trade. After developing complications for companies including the Swatch Group and IWC, Jean-François established Chronode in 2005 in Le Locle, the historical epicenter of the Swiss watch industry. Jean-François partnered with Cyrus CEO Ruben Mira Blanco in 2012, shortly after winning the GPHG prize for Best Watchmaker in 2010, bringing his unique vision to the Cyrus brand, named for Cyrus the Great, an ancient king of Persia and Babylon renowned for his contributions to modern civilization.

Jean-Francois Mojon
Jean-Francois Mojon

Claude Greisler, along with his partner Serge Michel, grew up in Burgdorf, Switzerland, the same town in which Armin Strom, a watchmaker famed for his watch skeletonization skills, had his store and workshop. Serge, a collector of watches, went on to study marketing, while Claude decided to study watchmaking, first attending the watchmaking school in Solothurn before specializing in the restoration of old and complicated movements at the CIFOM technical school in Le Locle and concluding his studies there with a specialization in movement development. Serge became a family of friend of Strom, who was a local celebrity, and in 2006 brought in Claude to provide the watchmaking expertise to launch the Armin Strom brand, with an eye toward ensuring his friend’s name and legacy. For Claude, it was a dream come true. “When Serge first called me and talked about taking the brand to the next level with a factory, taking the brand over from someone from the same town as us, it was the perfect mix,” he said. “Armin Strom had always been interested in the mechanics of the movement, so to be able to take this philosophy forward was a fantastic opportunity.” The rest, as they say, is history, from with the brand’s development of its own in-house base calibers, to its innovative online watch configurator, to the revolutionary development of the Mirrored Force Resonance, the most recent versions of which will greet visitors to WatchTime L.A.

Serge Michel & Claude Greisler - Armin Strom
Serge Michel & Claude Greisler of Armin Strom

Don’t miss your chance to meet these and other watch-brand VIPs that will be in attendance at WatchTime Los Angeles and to see their latest inventions up close and in the metal. Tickets are on sale now!

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  1. Anthony

    I attended today’s watch event in Los Angeles . These gentlemen are autographing their work with excellence. I enjoyed speaking with them today.

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