BY ELIZABETH DOERR
Sheer ingenuity combines with the best in handcraftsmanship to create these arresting timepieces.
Rudis Sylva Harmonious Oscillator
Jacky Epitaux is a product of his environment. Born in the Jura region, the mountainous area of Switzerland where watchmaking is most prevalent, Epitaux has worked in the watch and related industries his entire adult life. And after leaving his last job, he founded a small luxury watchmaking company in this area of outstanding natural beauty.
Epitaux is a fountain of local information and his contacts within the community of local artisans have made the project he calls Rudis Sylva a hub of creativity. His brand is named for the ancient appellation of his hometown, Les Bois, and is Latin for “the forest of Ruedin” (the first recorded man to settle here and begin clearing the forest).
The watch gets its name from the fact that its time is uniquely kept by two toothed balance wheels
The premier watch to issue from the small but ultra-luxurious brand is the Harmonious Oscillator, and the idea behind it is not only a world first but also originated in the mind of a watchmaker/farmer from the Jura, Romain Gillet. However, it was a watchmaker from outside of Switzerland altogether who demonstrated the ability to put Gillet’s idea into mechanical reality: Finnish complications specialist Mika Rassinen.
The watch gets its name from the fact that its time is uniquely kept by two toothed balance wheels that are connected to one another. They are classically driven by the energy portioned out by one single escapement. The energy impulse is passed from the escapement to one balance and then the second one, creating a sort of mechanical resonance (as opposed to atmospheric resonance), which in turn—like a tourbillon— serves to eliminate the negative effects of gravity on timekeeping, making this one very accurate mechanical watch.
It also boasts a great deal of local handcraftsmanship: Component manufacture, tooling, finishing and movement decoration. Notably, the dial showcases exquisite guilloché by local specialist Georges Brodbeck.
This manually wound timepiece with a power reserve of about 70 hours is housed in a 44mm 18K rose or white gold case. The styling features an off-center dial displaying the hours and minutes, which leaves room for a large cutaway that reveals the Harmonious Oscillator subgroup and its very finely finished stabilizing bridge. Only ten to 20 pieces are currently manufactured per year, each available for $240,000.
Greg Simonian at Westime Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles