I arrived in Twann on the wrong side of the platform according to Thomas! Ah ha, the simple explanation of my changed route allayed any suspicion the Swiss trains had gone wrong or not run on time. As the old saying goes "You can set your watch to the Swiss trains". In all of my travels throughout Switzerland, not once has one been late pulling out of the station. Precision engineering again!
A view of the station and Thomas' atelier in the South West corner of the grey hotel below:
Thomas had expected me to arrive from Yverdon-les-Bains, and as I had changed my route with the Môtiers pit stop, I came in to Twann from the opposite direction. He whisked me off to the workshop where I met up with two of his colleagues, one a watchmaker, hidden behind the lathe on the right:
The other a hand engraver, responsible for those amazing dials and movements that emanate from the Prescher atelier.
Like the previous workshops I had visited, Thomas' had many similar machines, but his pride and joy seemed to be a recently acquired 5 axis CNC machine, for creating almost any part necessary.
This severely cuts down on time in production, instead of dealing with a specialist supplier, he programs this amazing piece of technology to create the part he needs. In the prototyping stage this helps enormously. The reliance on outside companies is something that these Independents wish to get away from, they usually get fairly short change from them as they are ordering small quantities, so don't get preferential treatment that a big company ordering many thousands of parts will get. This is one of the reasons so much time is taken for the production. Waiting for others is frustrating, as many of you can attest to, so if they can make a part themselves, they will. This type of machine that Thomas has, is one that makes his life much easier in many respects.
I was able to watch the engraver working on some movement pieces. The hand engraved personalization that the Thomas can offer his clients is something few can.
That ability to create a unique personal watch is compelling to many, and one of the reasons why I find his horological art so interesting and refreshing.
With Thomas, one has options, and is happy to discuss these with potential clients.
Here is Thomas' bench, working on his QP1, he was showing me the fine tuning of the instantaneous Perpetual calendar mechanism.
As the first watchmaker to ever create a Flying Triple Axis Tourbillon with constant force, he ranks alongside a very small group of artisanal watchmakers, who are capable of extra-ordinary feats of apparent horological magic! Here is a version of this superb piece:
And a close up of the Flying Tourbillon:
Having spent 30mins in the workshop, he then took me to see a bit of the old village of Twann. Several buildings are over 300 years old.
This is also the border of the Swiss-German and French speaking part of Switzerland, with the stream and waterfall that runs through he village being the true border. When in full flood, a heavy mist hangs over the bridge together with a spray from the waterfall, making this photograph almost impossible during heavy rain. As Thomas explained, the chalk takes a day or two to release the water, but when it does, look out, it flushes out very quickly.
Up above the village, this is the same bridge as seen above, just from the other side:
We then met up with his lovely wife Heike, and two boys, acquired some provisions for dinner and headed over to his home. Thomas, being a man of several talents, cooked an amazing northern German meal for us, followed up by some of the most delicious, fresh picked from the garden, blackberries and vanilla ice cream!
Yours truly & Thomas picking blackberries in his garden:
We spent the next couple of hours going over business ideas, figuring out how to work in the future, so as to provide the best possible experience for a buyer of Thomas' art. He is keen to meet potential clients and discuss projects. Being open to clients needs, allows for some amazing possibilities with his designs. He showed me on the computer a version of the Tempus Vivendi for a middle eastern client, using the coat of arms with two sabres as the retro-grading hour and minute hands!
As with each of these Independent Watchmakers, Thomas' humble demeanor, hides much he has to offer in terms of world class unique watchmaking. As the inventor of the Flying Triple Axis Tourbillon with constant force, he has clearly demonstrated his technical prowess. His slightly more simple offerings, especially the new QP1 with central indicator hands for day, date and month, are compelling. Don't dismiss his work because of the Tempus Vivendi Art pieces, that I could argue are too much for many hard core watch collectors.
Early Sunday morning Thomas dropped me off in Bienne to take the train to Rolle to see Peter Speake-Marin...