The german "cabinotier".......

Mar 02, 2007,15:28 PM

Hi all,
I'm sure almost all of you've heard of the cabinotiers of old Geneva, those watchmakers working in the small workshops, often located in the garrets of Geneva's town houses.
It was the place with the best availlable daylight, the most time of a day, a natural place for this tiny workpieces, incredibly demanding for the human eye.
When visiting german watchmaker  Christian Klings recently I felt reminded of this old  term, not only because his tiny workshop, also on the top floor under the roof exactly meets this descriptions; also his style of watchmaking comes very, very close. Few has been written about Christian Klings and different from the few "stars"  among the AHCI his name isn't that well known even among those, more focused on the world of independents.

But, I can tell you,IMO he's an absolute  insider tip for all those interested in real traditional watchmaking.  Perhaps I'd better say "horology" here, as the degree and depth of what Christian does is really impressive - and looking at his methods, equippement and machinery will soon reveal he's doing this the most traditional way you'd imagine.
Some fancy CNC machinery here or there with  highly praised precision - no, sorry, not here.Most  basic machinery such like any watchmaker hundred years ago had as well and lot's of real handwork.  It's handmade in the best sense - and in this case it's in  no way a stretch of the term.

When I first met Christian in the 2005 Basel fair, I hadn't heard a lot as well, but at least I remembered some mysterious escapement, called "desmodromic escapement" (this term probably will ring a bell with the motor bike friends among us, think Ducati).   I was really blown away by what I saw - unbelievable to me at that time how a single guy could invest such an amount of painstaking work and energy  in such developements. And quickly learning that this was a small part of his work only!
I'll post some more comprehensive information on Christian and his desmodromic escapement later, but for now:
it's a single impulse, lubrication free pivoted detent escapement - but no  spring for the chronometer  lever and working reliably under wrist watch conditions (i.e.reasonably shock proof) with 28.800 bph!

His cases are very tastefull and classic, as is the overall aesthetic of his watches - not surprising knowing about his admiration of   the great watchmakers like A.L.Breguet and Dr. George Daniels.
Christian's work has an incredible depth - besides almost all vital parts of the movement, he makes his own cases, the guillochage of the dials, engraving the dials....... he's even modifying the crystals with changing/polishing the bevels to enhance the  details of the dial!

His No.5 tourbillon is a real treat  for any horological tech nut - it's a 7.5 seconds tourbillon with a fixed escape wheel (it's fixed to the mainplate). Some will be reminded Albert H.Potters famous tourbillon of similar design. But this one is even more special as the balance is impulsed through the hairspring only !! Also more details on this one later. Normally I'm not that fond of higher beat rate movements - but this one is just spectacular to observe.

As you may have guessed already, all of Christians finished watches are unique pieces - and unique here really means unique smile
But, before I get lost, here are some pictures of his most recent creation - tourbillon No. 7 - a flying tourbillon with swiss lever escapement,  with flying  third wheel, moon phase and power reserve indication.

Christian is AHCI candidate, but he'll not be  in Basel this yeear :-(
Hope you enjoyed the pictures and as promised, I'll post more on Christians work later!
Best regards

More posts: Ballon BleuFlying TourbillonGeorge Daniels

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Beautiful watches!

 By: Allen : March 2nd, 2007-15:59
I particularly like the No. 7 Tourbillon. Do you have a more frontal shot of it? Thanks for showing us the environment that these beauties were born in as well.

Hi, Allen,....

 By: SuitbertW : March 2nd, 2007-16:14're two more, but no frontal dial shot - I'll upload one later. Due to the flying third wheel design, there's an amazing transparency for the tourbillon area. As you may see both, the flying tourbillon and the third wheel are supported by ball bear...  

Thanks Suitbert!

 By: Allen : March 3rd, 2007-08:32
what an amazing tourbillon cage!

Here's a more frontal dial shot..

 By: SuitbertW : March 4th, 2007-15:58
Hi Allen, but, they're not that good and I've to go through the pic files again, if there's some better, more doing justice to the work. As you say - the tourbillon cage is particulary beautifull ! Best regards Suitbert...  


 By: Allen : March 4th, 2007-22:05

Just out of curiousity, Suitbert, is this the only . . .

 By: Dr No : March 3rd, 2007-10:33
. . . tourbillon that rotates on ball bearings, or are there others? Cordially, Art

I'm a great admirer of his work, thanks for the update!

 By: ei8htohms : March 2nd, 2007-17:46
Hi Suitbert, My understanding is that Mr. Klings was living and working in California about the time I got interested in watchmaking, but unfortunately he had already moved before I had ever heard of him, otherwise I would've loved to have visited his wor... 

yes..I read about Klings california past, in a magazine some years ago.

 By: bernard cheong : March 2nd, 2007-22:17
I think we had some discussion about him way back in 2004.

My pleasure,Steve! -nt-

 By: SuitbertW : March 4th, 2007-16:15

Marvellous pics !

 By: Doc : March 2nd, 2007-22:40
Thanks Suitbert, for these fantastic pics, of a real classic looking movement ! The finish seems incredible! BTW, in this country, the best tasting ice cream is,..... Klings :-) Cheers Doc

LoL - Doc, I've to tell Christian about that swedish ice cream.....

 By: SuitbertW : March 4th, 2007-16:17
And thanks a lot for your kind words! Best Suitbert

Klings !

 By: Doc : March 5th, 2007-22:39

What a great example of real watchmaking!

 By: Ornatus-Mundi : March 3rd, 2007-03:13
It clearly shows his talent and savoir faire, and also makes the manual process and execution visible. For me, this is much more desirable than a 100% perfectly finished end-product, which may look a bit sterile. I shall not forget to say that his technic... 

Oh my god. . .

 By: Jack Forster : March 3rd, 2007-07:23
. . .Suitbert. Tourbillon no. 5. Ohhh, my goodness Love to hear more about that one. . . pleeeeeeeease??? Jack

I'm with you for number 5 Jack

 By: Dje : March 3rd, 2007-13:41
Thanks a lot Suitbert. Amazing work, fascinating to teh extrreme. I'd love to knpw more about his "no-tourbiilon" watches!! Cheers Dje

Gotta hear more about it. Haven't been so excited since. . .

 By: Jack Forster : March 3rd, 2007-16:50
. . .I first became familiar with Kari Voutilainen's work. This is HOT stuff Jack

Hi Jack, Jerome....

 By: SuitbertW : March 4th, 2007-16:49
.... No. 5 is a most fascinating piece, your pick isn't surprising to me It's a long story and perhaps much better to go into Christian Klings desmodromic escapement first as it's part of this very special piece as well. And, I should also point out that ...  

OK, thanks Suitbert, what the heck. . .

 By: Jack Forster : March 5th, 2007-07:45
. . . are those really two pallet forks. . . ?!? Jack

The small ratchet wheel close to the tourbillon center...

 By: SuitbertW : March 5th, 2007-16:03
Hi Jack, that's a constant force mechanism! During his countless hours trying to get it working, i.e. to achieve a little better rate stability, he realized that this escapement was very sensitive to this problem and he decided to add a constant force. Yo... 

OK, so let me get this straight. . .

 By: Jack Forster : March 5th, 2007-17:02
. . .constant force escapement (!) impulsed through the hairspring, not directly to an impulse jewel on the balance? That's just wild. That it was done in a 7.5 second tourbillon just adds to the tastiness, even if it IS tempermental. I'd just love to hea... 

You're absolutely right, Jack....

 By: SuitbertW : March 6th, 2007-14:52
...only a "horologically obsessed" one would have started to build something like this I asked Christian for some drawings and he told me he might have some....let's see ;-) I'll put together some more about the desmodromic escapement the next days . Best... 

Thank you Suitbert. . .

 By: Jack Forster : March 7th, 2007-12:15

Thanks Suitbert. Mr Klings' work is beautiful

 By: SJX : March 3rd, 2007-07:26
Somewhat reminiscent of Urban Jurgensen yet subtly different. His movement work is quietly stunning, I like the careful finish that doesn't focus too much on unnecessary decoration. Kudos to Mr Klings. - SJX

Glad you like it, SJX,...

 By: SuitbertW : March 4th, 2007-16:08

My pleasure, Ronald,.....

 By: SuitbertW : March 3rd, 2007-18:40

Yowza! Now that´s really something different!

 By: PeterCDE : March 3rd, 2007-20:42
Independent watchmaking, as much as it can be! Thanks a lot, that´s truly eye opening! Can´t wait to see and hear more! Cheers, Peter

My pleasure, Peter....

 By: SuitbertW : March 6th, 2007-14:56

Large WOW Factor

 By: Douglas : March 4th, 2007-05:09
Please do share more pictures and your insightful comments on these pieces. Great new surprise this morning, and I am very fond of the traditional design.

Thanks, Douglas,....

 By: SuitbertW : March 6th, 2007-14:58

Suitbert, thank you for a most enjoyable post. No 5 is a beauty, can't wait

 By: MarkS : March 4th, 2007-15:42
to read/see more about Mr Klings work.

For us "slower" people >>

 By: MTF : March 4th, 2007-19:44
In the Nr 5 Piece, do I assume that a 7.5s tourbillon does just that? Circulate in 7.5s. What tourbillon cages? I "see" no cages - only air; like faerie dancesteps on dandelion seeds Regards, MTF

Absolutely fascinating ...

 By: Chris Meisenzahl : March 7th, 2007-05:32
true genius.

Another tourbillon by Klings

 By: otho : March 7th, 2007-13:30
Great report ! Many thanks! BTW, another tourbillon (No. 6) by Klings: click here photo by "Armband Uhren", 2005 Best regards....  

... and another (photo)...

 By: otho : March 7th, 2007-13:40
... for Lottermann & Soehne (2003 / 4): click here Cheers, otho...  

Lottermann & Soehne by C. Klings in close-up

 By: otho : March 7th, 2007-23:15
very nice, semiclassical regulateur tourbillon...  

Thanks, Otho, for the additional input...

 By: SuitbertW : March 8th, 2007-15:08
... unfortunately I don't have pictures of No.6 - :-( If I'm not mistaken this is the only tourbillon made by Christian for Lottermann&Söhne - very interesting design. While it does look like a flying tourbillon, it's in fact supported on both ends. On th... 

Dear SuitbertW,

 By: otho : March 9th, 2007-05:26
truly thanks for your equally important & interesting details ! Additional en face view of Klings's tourbillon for Lottermann: , ... and very exciting table clock in glass case with one-minute flying tourbillon escapement made by C. Klings (also signed by...  


 By: otho : March 10th, 2007-05:29