Baselworld Day 3- McGonigle, Heritage & Tutima Glashutte
As I mentioned in my previous missive, I closed out Day 2 at a dinner with good friends. This year I had the rare opportunity & great fortune to be able to introduce a young American watchmaker, Keaton Myrick, to several of my friends in the Independent Watchmaking world, over the course of our time in Basel. He has been beavering away in almost total seclusion up in central Oregon from the watch world. Other than the pictures gleaned from the web and school, he has had to create his own watch and finish style by trial and error. He attended the Lilitz watchmaking school in Pennsylvania, USA, worked at Rolex USA for a couple of years and now has a watch repair and restoration atelier in Oregon. I have been eagerly following his progress on his first watch and wasn't disappointed when in Basel I finally got to meet him and see the first piece. Anyway, as is so often the case, the watch was even better in person, and he too is a great guy, passionately going about his dream to be a mechanical watchmaker creating his own watches by hand in his atelier to his design.
He has had contact with one of my friends, who has provided both technical & moral support, namely John McGonigle, so it was fitting that the two of them joined us for dinner. John was sporting his Tuscar and I was able to snap these images:
John tries on the KM prototype. A pensive moment for Keaton!
I want to mention here that I derive enormous pleasure in seeing a young Independent watchmaker get to experience Basel and I feel good about the introductions we were able to help him with. It is invaluable to have to the feedback from colleagues such as John McGonigle or Peter Speake-Marin. These guys have been round the block a few times already, so can share tips and give him some helpful pointers for the future. I have always wanted to help foster watchmaking in my adopted country, and this experience has re-energized me to make this happen on an ongoing basis. Perhaps a scholarship fund can be set up to help potential watchmakers get to top quality watchmaking school??? I suspect it will be positively received by watch aficionados and collectors, and they would be happy to have a portion of the proceeds of the purchase of an Independent watch go to this scholarship.
Next stop on the whirlwind Baselworld tour was a quick visit with Karsten Fraessdorf of the Heritage Watch Manufactory. I have written about him and his work on several previous Basel trips, and this year he has been given carte blanche to create an astronomical wristwatch capable of being used, together with a sextant provided by them, to navigate the planet's surface. It runs in two modes simultaneously, one sidereal time, the other solar time, switchable at any time by an external pusher. He explained the watch and what it can do, and I'm afraid after a minute or two it mostly went over my head with his use of words I didn't know the definitions to! It is a supremely complicated watch and those few who appreciate and understand what it is capable of, will be excited, alas most of us mere mortals will be left fascinated and confused I dare say!
Karsten's caliber is superb and the prime directive of the company is to produce the most accurate and high precision chronometer wristwatches. A lofty goal and one worth following. We are excited to have these guys come out to So. Cal. to visit and host them for a watchmaker dinner at Passion. Dates will be discussed and a plan made. Let me know if you are interested in attending, it will be not one to miss!
Talking about lofty goals, Tutima has gone back to it's roots, to Glashutte in Saxony, build a brand new manufactory and created the first all German minute repeater wristwatch. It is quite a feat for any company to make a minute repeater, let alone one that was previously known for aviator and military grade chronographs utilizing Swiss base calibers modified in their previously West German factory. I have followed the progress of this relatively small independent company for several years and am thrilled to see what they are doing. Here's the first Tutima Glashutte watch and what a piece it is!
Here is the other version with a solid silvered dial and elegant arabic numerals next to the Platinum open dial version.
Next year Tutima Glashutte debut their own caliber to be used in their watches across the board, as the current ETA base calibers will be phased out due to the restrictions of using them, placed on companies by Swatch Group. A positive aspect in my opinion, companies are being forced to innovate and design their own calibers, which in the long run will benefit collectors, although there will certainly be a bit of an upcharge for the exclusivity.