Switzerland based independent master watchmaker Hervé Schlüchter presents L’Essentiel, a regular style mechanical wristwatch incorporating an ingenious 24-hour philosophical disc display and a number of rare horological specialities.
Driven by a finely crafted mechanical hand-wound calibre, the L’Essentiel watch displays the hours on a 24-hour philosophical disc in aventurine, minutes via central regulator hand, and small seconds on a subdial at 6 o’clock.
Hervé Schlüchter describes his timepiece as a philosophical mechanical instrument. Inspired by an Antide Janvier regulator dating back to 1800, L’Essentiel is the first timepiece from the watchmaker’s Tree of Life project.
The in-house developed movement incorporates several foundational watchmaking specialties. In this watch, Hervé Schlüchter has included his own balance wheel, with proportions identical to those of pocket watches, a Swiss anchor escapement with a ‘moustache’ lever, wolf’s teeth on the ratchet, large and fine and elegant wheels, a spine of mirror-polished steel components, and ébauches in silvered maillechort for the same natural feel as the marvelous pocket watches from the golden age of watchmaking. This hand-wound mechanical movement beats at 18,000 vibrations per hour.
The wolf’s teeth on the ratchet and crown wheel are chamfered and polished, and the topside of these two parts is given a sunray finish in the direction of rotation. The maillechort (nickel, copper, and zinc alloy) barrel bridge houses the suspended crown wheel and the click’s spring, which is integrated into the bridge. This movement has a single-piece click that echoes the shape of the barrel bridge.
After the barrel and its 60-hour power reserve comes the time train, with its large gold-plated spoked wheels – beveled, circular-grained and countersunk on both sides. Here too, the watchmaker fitted large, majestic wheels and a large, beautiful center wheel.
For the 3 wheels of the time train, Hervé Schlüchter created a bridge for each wheel – like the calibers of iconic pocket watches. He also wanted to graphically represent a spine of mirror-polished steel bridges, as slender and elegant as possible, with their arms cradled, as a figure of style. The center bridge thus provides the movement’s axis of symmetry, responding to the curve on the barrel and balance bridge.
The escape wheel is of the traditional shape and works Hervé Schlüchter concert with the counterpoised lever. In fine watches, this type of anchor exacted a level of filing and polishing indicative of the care given even to the smallest details of execution. The watchmaker decided to incorporate this type of anchor for reasons of aesthetics and craftsmanship and opted for the mustache-shaped lever. It’s both surprising and pleasing to see a ‘moustache’ anchor in action, and quite rare these days.
The intent with the watch’s regulating organ was to bridge the past with the present. That’s why Hervé Schlüchter took inspiration from the specific shape of marine chronometer balances, with their four inertia blocks and adjusting screws. Its dimensions would correspond to what used to be the norm, i.e. occupy about the same space as the movement’s radius.
To enable collectors to check the accuracy of their watches, the watchmaker fitted the movement with a stop lever that passes through the movement and halts the regulating organ when setting the time.
The system for holding the stud is a small mechanism that enables the reference point to be finely adjusted simply by turning an eccentric on the balance bridge. The adjustable stud holder and its swan-neck spring are made of steel and chamfered, with the top surfaces mirror-polished. Beneath the heart of the Hervé Schlüchter L’Essentiel watch are two personalized plates, hand-engraved with “Tree of Life”, “L’Essentiel”, and “Creare Durare”.
The 24-hour aperture on the dial reveals the unfolding days, with its “hidden” words for future generations. The watchmaker chose the Latin words Hodie Nunc (Today Now) and Amor&Gratia (Love & Gratitude).
This philosophical disc is made of aventurine with the sun and moon metallized in gold and silver, all pad-printed. The central dial is in maillechort (nickel, copper, and zinc alloy) with a hand-turned guilloché.
The small seconds dial at 6 o’clock and the minutes dial ring are in white grand Feu enamel, and feature glossy black transfers. The centally-placed regulator style minute hand and the small seconds hand at 6H are traditionally crafted and flame-blued.
The case made of stainless steel measures 39mm in diameter and 8mm in thickness, excluding the crystal. It has a horizontal satin-finished case band with polished lugs, polished bezel and case back.
Great care has been given to the elegance of the lugs, the right slope, the right proportions and the right positioning on the wrist. The stainless steel pin buckle follows the same logic of alternating polished with straight-grained surfaces.
L’Essentiel is delivered in a sober case crafted from chocolate Barenia leather bearing the philosophical mechanical instrument’s serial number; inside, the certificate of authenticity and a set of spare straps.
The Hervé Schlüchter L’Essentiel ‘Tree of Life’ watch is a limited edition of just 25 pieces.
Model: Hervé Schlüchter L’Essentiel ‘Tree of Life’
Stainless steel, 3-piece case design, pressed case back
Horizontal satin-finished case band with polished lugs, polished bezel and case back
Sapphire crystal, double-sided antireflective coating
Case dimensions: 39mm
Water resistance: 3 ATM (30 meters, 100 FT)
Crown: Stainless steel, polished with engraved logo
Central dial: Maillechort (nickel, copper, and zinc alloy), hand-turned guilloche decoration; hand-engraved HS logo; hand-chamfered periphery
Flanks straight-grained, underside circular-grained
Hour and seconds aperture: Steel, hardened-tempered and whitened by hand, hooped
Bevels and countersinks, hand-made and polished; flanks straight-grained
Minute and seconds dial: White Grand Feu enamel, glossy black transfers
Flanks straight-grained, underside circular-grained
Minute and seconds hands: Steel, hardened-tempered and whitened by hand, flame-blued; Balanced; bevels and countersinks, hand-made and polished; Cannons, countersunk and polished
Philosophical disc: Aventurine, mounted on notched crown; Gold plating for the Sun; silver plating for the Moon; Latin philosophical inscription: on the Sun, Hodie Nunc (Today Now); and on the moon, Amor &Gratia (Love &Gratitude)
Diameter: 34.60mm / 15½ ‘lignes’
Height: 7.38mm (including switch)
Number of components: 189
24-hour philosopher’s disk, stop seconds lever
Swiss lever escapement, counterpoised ‘moustache’ lever
Wolf’s teeth on ratchet and crown wheel
Guillaume-type ‘Homage’ balance wheel
Number of jewels: 27
Power reserve: 60 hours
- Barrel: Quick-rotating, fixed flange; drum circular-grained, flanks straight-grained, interior circular-grained, lid circular-grained
- Ratchet and crown wheel: Wolf’s-tooth profile, topside sunray-finished, underside circular-grained; teeth hand-polished
- Click-spring: Mirror-polished, hand-chamfered; screws countersunk, flanks straight-grained, circular-grained
Wheels: 3N gold-plated ARCAP spokes; polished bevels; circular-grained; diamond-coated inside and out, straight-fluted
- Pinions: Traditionally manufactured; hardened-tempered and whitened by hand; Leaves and shafts, hand-polished, burnished
- Escapement: Swiss lever escapement; ‘moustache’ lever, chamfered, mirror-polished, chamfered, flanks straight-grained; Escape wheel, mirror-polished; End stone plate, mirror-polished; Bevels and moldings, hand-made and polished
- Pendulum: Guillaume-type (diameter 14.10mm); Variable inertia with adjusting weights
- Spiral: Phillips terminal curve; Stud holder, eccentric fine-adjustment
Ebauches and bridges
- Plate: Maillechort (nickel, copper, and zinc alloy), hand-engraved with ‘Hervé Schlüchter’ and ‘Bienne’; ‘Work No.’, hand-engraved under the regulating organ; Circular-graining, top and bottom; recesses circular-grained, flanks straight-grained; Countersinks hand-turned and polished; flanks straight-grained
- Barrel, escapement and balance bridges: Maillechort (nickel, copper, and zinc alloy); Côtes de Genève or graining; underside circular-grained, chamfered; Countersinks hand-turned and polished; flanks straight-grained
Center wheel, intermediate wheel, and seconds wheel bridges: Steel, hardened-tempered and whitened by hand, mirror-polished, chamfered, balanced; Countersinks hand-turned and polished; flanks straight-grained; Olive-domed jewels, set in 18K yellow gold chatons
- Anchor bridge: Maillechort (nickel, copper, and zinc alloy); underside straight-grained, chamfered; Countersinks hand-turned and polished; flanks straight-grained; Recesses and underside circular-grained
- ‘Angel’s wings’ bridges under the balance wheel: Maillechort (nickel, copper, and zinc alloy), hand-engraved with ‘Tree of Life’, ‘L’Essentiel’, and ‘Creare Durare’; 3N gold-plated lettering; circular-grained, chamfered; Countersinks, hand-turned and polished; underside circular-grained
- Serial No. plate: 18K yellow gold, number hand-engraved, circular-grained, chamfered; Countersinks, hand-turned and polished; underside circular-grained
Black alligator, hand-stitched; inner in red alligator, small scales
Stainless steel, hand-engraved logo, satin-finished top and bottom
Polished edges, hammered pin support
Polished pin, flanks satin-finished
More details: https://www.herve-schluchter.ch/en/