The Hypnotic Power of Time…

Our New York writer is hypnotised by horology at last month’s Timecrafters fair in New York…..

Article by Aaron Shuttleworth 


The room slowly drifted back into focus as I tore myself away from the hypnotic rotations of the spherical tourbillon. A lady in corporate attire was standing across from me, smiling patiently and pointing at a large sign that read ‘NO PHOTOGRAPHY’.

I was sprung. A smarter man would have pretended to delete the mesmerising video. Honesty is a blessing and a curse. Crucify me.

The object in question that had occupied my attention was the Vacheron Constantin Reference 57260. The most complicated and one of the most expensive watches ever produced. Commissioned by a private collector, it took 3 master watchmakers 8 years of full time work to complete. It was finally revealed at Vacheron’s 260th birthday party, making them the oldest watchmaker in continuous operation today.

In horology, a complication refers to any function outside of the simple display of hours and minutes. These generally fall under three overarching categories, being timing, astronomical and striking complications. A ‘Grande Complication’ watch is loosely defined as possessing three of these additional functions, with one coming under each category. To put things in perspective, the Reference 57260 has 57 complications (yes the 260 is for the anniversary, good work Sherlock), including moon phases, Hebrew calendar functions and a star chart.

How much does this masterpiece cost?

‘We aren’t at liberty to say exactly sir, but we can say it’s somewhere between $5 Million and $20 million US Dollars’.

I stepped down from the top of the mountain and looked at the comparatively meagre offerings below.

Jaeger Le Coultre? Pah!

Audemars Piguet? HA!

Lange & Söhne? Hmmmm…well……

A quick survey of the cavernous Park Avenue Armoury space affirmed that I was standing in rarefied air. Since 2011, the Timecrafters watch show held in New York has commanded the very best in the world of horology. The three-day event encompasses myriad aspects of time, from daily workshops put on by master watchmakers to virtual reality racing simulations as a celebration of Tag Heuer’s relationship with Ferrari.

Various houses had their watchmakers putting on demonstrations, but I found myself gravitating towards the Audemars Piguet one in the centre of the room, not least because the microscopic process was projected onto a larger screen. I was greeted by Gary Cruz, the technical training director of The Americas for AP and a master watchmaker, diligently dissembling one of the more ‘simple’ AP watches and guiding the audience through the process.

Imagine taking apart a microscopic jigsaw puzzle in front of a crowd. Pretty difficult, right? Now imagine that certain parts of this jigsaw cost thousands of dollars and take months for a replacement to be built. Hell, even the tools Gary was using were custom made and cost a small fortune!

As I exited past the A Lange & Söhne display, an immaculately dressed sales assistant offered to place one of their watches on my wrist.

I paused.

‘I wouldn’t be able to take it off’, I said, as a wry smile creased my face. riddle_stop 2


Enquiries: Timecrafters NYC / 2017 dates yet to be confirmed.

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