On a beautiful summer’s day there can be little in the world more pleasurable than a drive through the Swiss countryside and up into the Jura mountains. At the end of this particular road was the small town of Sainte-Croix; while not perhaps the prettiest town it does have the virtue of being the home of the manufacturing facility of master watch-maker Vianney Halter.
Housed in a dedicated factory building this isn’t you usual anonymous 70s nightmare, but more of a Swiss chalet structure converted to be a factory. While the outside has a chocolate box facade the inside is much more functional, but still with a some nice sentimental touches including an electro-mechanical clock previously used for clocking workers in and out.
The first thing that strikes you upon entering the atelier is the smell; oil. This is a place of work populated by an amazing range of machines many of which have young watchmakers hunched over them. If you have ever wondered about the amount of work involved in making a watch, this is a place filled with details.
I have been fortunate enough to visit a number of different watchmakers but the one thing that always amazes me is the level of detail to which they go to produce their watches. I spent 20 minutes watching a young female watchmaker polishing a single part which she informed me would require a couple of hours to complete using the fine polishing compound and papers.
Many independent watchmakers are forced to sub-contract the creation of a number of their parts to other companies, but these companies can be inherently conservative and may not be able or willing to fulfill strange or unusual requests. Therefore if you are an innovative watchmaker like Vianney then you are likely to have to make your own parts and finish your cases to your own satisfaction, hence all of the machines.
Vianney Halter examining the polishing of a case; a polishing disk is lubricated by a soap solution to produce the high shine finish.
The creations of Vianny Halter might be considered unusual; with more than a tilt to a steampunk world that has either passed or perhaps never existed, they have a solid, industrial look and feel. The top model is the “Antiqua”, a perpetual calendar with 4 “portholes”, time, day of the week, leap year and month indicator, and date. Available in yellow or rose gold and platinum.
But I have to say my personal favorite is the Trio (shown at the top of this article) and I would go for the Rose Gold version which I think is the strongest. It is a strong design, curved to improve fit across the wrist, and the double portholes for the date are a nice touch.
You can be sure to make a real impression in a Vianney Halter watch.