The Persistence of Memory: An Online Chronicle of the Past 50 Years of Contemporary Independent Watchmaking

The Persistence of Memory: An Online Chronicle of the Past 50 Years of Contemporary Independent Watchmaking

As the world emerges from what was an absolute otherworldly year, 2021 is bringing us countless demonstrations of the power that the human spirit holds. Its drive and desire to persist to see a better tomorrow has brought us through lifetimes worth of drawbacks and calamities, and it is sure to see us through many more.

For those us who are cognizant of the universe of watchmaking, the proof of the power of the power and persistence of the human spirit is evident in every turn of its two centuries worth of history, beautifully recorded by the genius work of watchmakers who have invented and contributed towards building this domain, through the ages.

In recent memory, one instance of a season of hardship that the world of mechanical watchmaking is known to have overcome, through sheer creativity and ingenuity, is the quartz crisis. It is in this timeframe that the immortal works of Gerald Genta came into being. It is this timeframe that ultimately propelled industrialization within the watchmaking sphere; it inspired the originality that arose at the turn of the century and ultimately has brought us here where the mechanical watch has been elevated to become a perennial object of desire.

Taking the year 1970 as the starting point, the good folks at The Hour Glass in Singapore have created: The Persistence of Memory an online exhibition, which documents the past fifty years’ worth of truly exceptional watchmaking. The showcase starts off with the works of friends, Dr George Daniels and Derek Pratt drawing a string through into the story of present-day greats such as François-Paul Journe, Philippe Dufour, Kari Voutilainen and Denis Flageollet, before we find ourselves at the precipice of the promise of the future that is demonstrated by the works of Roger Smith, Felix Baumgartner and Rexhep Rexhepi.

The Persistence of Memory online exhibition is a curated library, “of the key members of this contemporary independent watchmaking movement, documenting its developmental timeline and photographing and archiving its most important watches.”

Casebacks of the George Daniels Space Traveller (1982) and Grand Complication (1987) (Image: The Hour Glass)
Casebacks of the George Daniels Space Traveller (1982) and Grand Complication (1987) (Image: The Hour Glass)
Philippe Dufour Duality #06 (1997), Duality Prototype #00 (1996), Albert Piguet Double Lever Escapement (1933) (Image: The Hour Glass)
Philippe Dufour Duality #06 (1997), Duality Prototype #00 (1996), Albert Piguet Double Lever Escapement (1933) (Image: The Hour Glass)
5. Rexhep Rexhepi Chronometre Contemporain Platinum (2020), Pink Gold (2018) (Image: The Hour Glass)
5. Rexhep Rexhepi Chronometre Contemporain Platinum (2020), Pink Gold (2018) (Image: The Hour Glass)

Speaking to explain the intentions behind the grand effort, Mr Michael Tay, Group Managing Director of The Hour Glass and exhibition curator shares, “This survey has been a project that has been fermenting for several years now and I couldn’t have been happier with its outcome. We assembled some 150 of the finest examples of artisanal watchmaking of this period including two of George Daniels’ masterworks — the Space Traveller and the Grand Complication. Many of these watches were on loan from important private collections as well as from the artisans themselves. Due to the pandemic and safe distancing restrictions, we were required to innovate and realized this exhibition via our bespoke online viewing room (OVR). This OVR platform is highly immersive in that it allows for thorough story telling accompanied by precise macro photographs of the watches. Something I’m certain the global enthusiast community will appreciate.”

The Persistence of Memory runs online from the 11th of March, 8 pm SGT (1 pm CET /7 am EST): ovr.thehourglass.com

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