Creating a unique identity for yourself is not an easy task in the watch business. The industry is several hundred years old, and there is little room for innovation when it comes to telling the time. And yet, within 21 years of entering the wristwatch industry Christiaan Van Der Klaauw has worked hard to become one of the most respected brands in the world, and since last year are one of only 64 brands on the ‘Haute Horlogerie’ list of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie.
What makes them unique is that they are the only atelier in the world dedicated entirely to hand made astronomical wristwatches. Astronomical pieces for the brand are a logical evolution, time itself being derived from the planets.
The most common astronomical complication is the moon-phase. There is an inherent problem with the way moon phases are usually portrayed though. When you use a flat disc to emulate a 3-D object accuracy has to take the backseat. It is out of this inaccuracy that the inspiration came for the “Real Moon” – The most accurate moon phase watch in the world deviating only one day for every 11,000 years is already impressive.
This year Christiaan Van Der Klaauw presented two new real moon pieces pushing the concept further than ever. First, there is the Joure Horizon. It sports an oil-painted dial and is made of steel!
Their second novelty is a Real-Moon featuring an Ammolite at the centre of the dial. Ammolite is one of the rarest gems in the world, created from marine fossils exceeding 70 million years of age. The way this gem plays with the light is absolutely fascinating, the colours being incredibly rich and unique. Further, the moon is embedded with white and black diamonds sparkling ever so subtly when the moon rotates.
And then there is the third novelty, and here the brand really hit a homerun. Together with the renowned engraver Kees Engelbarts they created the unique piece Planetarium Zodiac Sagittarius. Over a year in the making, this watch features their signature complication; the world’s smallest planetarium at 12 mm in diameter. To give a sense of scale as to the technical challenges one has to face creating a planetarium, the most outer planet (Saturn) on the watch rotates only once every 29.5 years!
What really makes this piece though is the dial. The level of detail in the engraving is incredible. The depth and texture are unlike anything I have ever seen, and to my surprise, the figure fits very harmoniously on the dial. The bow and arrow help create balance on the dial and provide a very rich depth to the dial. Further, it features 10 small diamonds which are arranged in accordance with the star sign, and add a little bite to the otherwise rather mono-coloured dial.
Meeting with the people of Christiaan Van Der Klaauw was without a doubt a personal highlight of Baselworld for me. Not only are their watches breathtaking and true pieces of art, but also the people behind the brand radiate a genuine passion. I look forward to the developments of the brand and am already excited for the treasures of the future.