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ARTIME High Horology Watchmaking

ARTIME was founded in 2021 in Les Brenets, between Le Locle and the Doubs River.

The brand is six personalities, little or not known by the public and yet central in the Swiss watchmaking system. The warm relationships that link them, fueled by mutual goodwill, their humor and the deep kindness that animates them, these are as much the foundation of Artime as the level of the highest watchmaking standards they set for themselves.

Together, Fabrice Deschanel, Didier Bretin, Manuel Thomas, Claude Emmenegger, Emmanuel Jutier and Stéphane Maturel operate in the transparency of their respective roles, according to a principle of horizontal governance and with the shared will to express themselves at height of their art. 

Freedom, so precious

Today, their vocations, high standards and unrivalled cumulative expertise converge. As with all members of teams working for a brand or a technical department, their careers have alternated between realizing projects defined by clients, perpetuating existing concepts and the occasional flash of invention.

It is in order to put the latter at the center of their creative process that the team at Artime chose to be independent and to imagine. To innovate. To combine parameters that, taken individually, represent the pinnacle of the art of watchmaking and that, taken together, constitute Artime. Their first creative gesture has now taken form in the ART01. 

ART01 – “Operation Super Openwork”

The ART01 is a wristwatch with a case alternating between transparent sapphire and titanium. Its round shape with monobloc lugs houses a white gold movement with a three-dimensional code, equipped with a one-minute tourbillon regulator and controlled by a function selector. It is 42 mm in diameter, 11.4 mm high and mounted on a black grained calfskin strap with a titanium folding clasp. Each of these features is at the surface a summary of what the ART01 truly is.

Dramatic arcs

Since watchmaking is the daughter of engineering sophistication, since it exists thanks to the care given to the smallest detail, the ART01 is in fact a very elaborate system.

The magnitude of which only becomes perceptible on the wrist and after a careful examination, inside and out. Only then do movement and exterior, form and function, invention and use reveal themselves in their nature: as intimately linked.

An architectural inspiration passes through them. Santiago Calatrava’s work has made a strong impression on designer Claude Emmenegger and Didier Bretin, who set the tone in orchestrating this first movement.

Thus, the bridges are arched with a subtle curvature. It is not only an aesthetic choice, but also a structural one. The bridges are neither juxtaposed, nor adjacent.

They are nested. Their bases are cut like blocks shaped to fit together as in cyclopean masonry. This requires uncompromisingly precise machining and perfect alignments.

Artime – Caged blossom

The tourbillon, just as architectural, was also created ex nihilo. In the same way that the project was developed in total freedom, the ART01’s rotating regulating organ was conceived without constraints. The cage, between an upper and lower bridge, is of an entirely new shape.

It is built without the pillars that usually connect the upper and lower parts, freeing the space necessary for the regulating organ.

Here, the cage forms a three-dimensional whole whose visual signature – a fundamental differentiating element for any watchmaker – is a three-armed shape, each stem flaring out like a stylized flower. The openwork characterizing the bridges extends to the confines of the cage, creating a new visual focal point. This three-armed shape with open ends is echoed throughout the entire gear train, including the barrel at noon.

Siamese hearts

The side anchor wheel is in gold, as are the other parts of this beating heart. The escapement is clocked at 3 hertz by a variable inertia balance fitted with gold regulating screws. Two balance springs are linked to its center, installed concentrically and operate in phase opposition; they are supplied exclusively by Precision Engineering, one of the most renowned manufacturers in this domain.
There are multiple advantages to this double balance spring arrangement. It ensures an improved quality factor, improved inertia and above all, perfect concentricity of the regulating spring’s ‘breathing’. The result is less stress on the pivots and consequently greater operating precision. The care given to the final adjustment is very particular.

This is not a show tourbillon – although it has the effect of one – but truly a chronometric tourbillon.

Fingertip control

Within this orchestra of technical systems, one of the most discreet and sophisticated is put at the service of ergonomics. Eliminating the drawbacks and awkwardness of a conventional crown, that on the ART01 is not pulled. Instead, it is pushed to control the function selector. You access its three positions – neutral, winding, setting – simply by pressing on the crown. The current position can be read from a satellite indicator, which circulates under the three sapphire inserts of the functions – N for neutral (or normal operation), R for ‘remontage’ or winding, and H for ‘heure’ or setting the time – that are revealed by contrast. This system is not new, but it so happens that Artime’s founding members are its original inventors.
In addition, this function selector incorporates a unique mechanism consisting of a dual function column wheel and a vertical clutch. Visible at four o’clock, between the central axis of the hands and the indicator, it triggers a question: Why is this here when it really belongs to a chronograph assembly? The upper cam controls the display of the function via the small satellite. It is closely linked to the second, one level below, which operates with the function rocker. This switching is usually actuated with the pull-tab, which is replaced here by a system of unique and obvious mechanical beauty. This design approach, off the beaten track and outside of the watchmaking canon, runs through the entire caliber.

Integrated case and movement

In a classic watch design, the elements are superimposed in a very distinct stack. Case back, bridges, gear train, plate, dial, bezel, glass, case middle – such is the usual arrangement. In the case of the ART01, this established order is disrupted by the way in which the elements seem to merge.

The caliber has no plate, not even an openworked one. The bridges are directly fixed in the case middle. Here, in this first edition, it is a block of titanium. “It serves as an amphitheater, to center and identify the piece. It has its own rhythm with its columns visible through the sapphire,” says the Artime team.
The round, very thin bezel is set on the sapphire, which is itself set on the case middle. This structural interaction fulfils not only a decorative but also a technical purpose. The way in which this assembly was conceived is the object of a patent application. Beyond its uniqueness, it is the visual result that is most important. The eye cannot see where one ends and the other begins, creating a ‘lightness’ and an apparent thinness that belie the ART01’s dimensions. At 42mm wide and 11.40mm thick, this watch gives off a totally different impression on the wrist.

Artime – Balancing materials

The aim is to free up as much space as possible and to create a visual signature on the wrist. To create a dynamic impression, a dramatic tension between the components that can be read from the profile of the bridges. Lightness in the sense of minimum weight, however, is not a priority for Artime. The appearance of the surfaces, their reflections, their finishes, the way matte alternates with polished, the chamfering, they all meet pure visual requirements.

That is why the designers of the ART01 eschewed conventional rhodium-plated brass. Nor did they choose titanium, known for its light weight yet tremendous rigidity allowing for architectural prowess. Instead, they chose white gold, a material that makes the extensive finishing practiced by Artime’s watchmakers truly stand out.

Sandblasting, stretching, trottoir profiling, chamfering – surface states alternate according to a rhythm that follows the functions. Gold and titanium, interior and exterior, are thus treated with the same level of quality.

Yet the ART01’s composition is far from monochrome. Firstly, gold, titanium and the few steel parts each come in their own shade of gray. Moreover, the changes in the types of decoration enrich the nuances, modulated even more by the light brought by the sapphire, depending on whether it is flat or beveled. Finally, two elements stand out: eight rubies, out of a total of 25, are set in red gold bezels; and the anchor wheel, also in red gold. Subtle points of emphasis, they underline the movement’s essential structural elements.

In the smallest detail

As a whole, this artistic creation draws from a ‘finishing ethos’ acquired by working on the most demanding projects the watch industry has ever seen in the past two decades. For example, the case screws, too, are finished like fine watchmaking components: satin-finished top, sandblasted bottom, chamfered head. As for the bridges, the caliber’s star components, they shine by their dynamic, but also by their surface finish. “With gold, you can achieve a silky, quite expressive polish effect. Even the finisher’s feel comes through in the differences in luster,” the team enthuses. At the same time, the visual importance of a particular component does not dictate the care it is given. All parts are equal in these artisans’ eyes. Thus, the wheels are also in gold, cut and designed ad hoc and decorated to the same high level. This horizontal approach in which each gesture is applied with equal sophistication extends to the buckle, an entirely original creation finished with the same attention to detail as the tourbillon cage.

Time well told

If the movement’s structure impresses with its clarity, if the crown follows ergonomic principles, then the ART01’s primary function must also offer the same level of efficiency. This imperative, together with the search for a modern aesthetic, was the guiding principle for creating the hour track and hands. The former, kept very fine, is an integral part of the sapphire block, punctuated by large round hour markers encircled in black and decorated with a white luminescent substance that emits a blue glow in low light.
The hands echo with their own color code: black, open and finished with a hexagon-shaped tip of the same color as the hour markers. The minute hand draws a more elongated shape and the hour hand, a more regular polygon, is also wider. This same geometric figure, in the form of a cartouche, provides the setting for Artime’s brand signature. On this first creation, the name of its designer, Didier Bretin, will appear alongside Artime.

Technical specifications

MovementHand-wound mechanical movement White gold bridges and wheels
CaseDiameter 42 mm, height 11.4 mm – Titanium with integrated sapphire case middle
Proprietary 360° panoramic view system (patent pending)
StrapBlack grained calfskin, saddle stitching
TourbillonThree-dimensional architecture developed in-house, pillarless, hand-chamfered and decorated (patent pending)
ClaspDeployant clasp with secure comfort extension -Titanium, hand-chamfered and decorated
PriceCHF 195,000 (excluding VAT)
Notes3 atm water resistance

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