There’s watchmaking…. and there’s Watchmaking. To me it turns into Watchmaking with a capital once we’re speaking about watchmakers who’ve the information, the flexibility and the persistence, to create a timepiece solely by hand. I’m not speaking about redesigning just a few plates or bridges of an current motion. Though all of us love Dufour’s Simplicity (primarily based on a JLC calibre) or Voutlainen’s Observatoire (primarily based on a Peseux calibre), to me these watches are drop-dead beautiful, über-desirable, however perhaps not a lot watchmaking with a capital W. When speaking about Watchmaking with a capital W, assume alongside the strains of George Daniels or Roger Smith. Hand-made is essential, and a motion solely developed by the watchmaker, with out ‘borrowing’ the escapement, the keyless works. Right this moment, we’re speaking with non-other than a correct unbiased Watchmaker. We’re speaking with Aaron Becsei, the namesake of Bexei Watches.
Oh… And a small PS. Aaron is making ready a brand new spherical wrist watch!
Frank Geelen, MONOCHROME – We perceive that watchmaking is a household custom among the many Becseis. Who began the custom, when and why?
Aaron Becsei, Bexei Watches – My grandfather was born in southern Hungary, now a part of Serbia. He didn’t need to domesticate the land and moved to Budapest as a younger man. There he met my grandmother, they usually had two sons. Grandpa determined to work with timepieces and shortly turned a famend and revered watch and clock restorer in Budapest and all through Hungary. Not solely did he restore timepieces, however he additionally constructed further mechanisms for current actions.
He was a self-taught watchmaker however had a pure expertise and regular arms required for this type of precision work. He labored from house so his two sons might be taught the commerce. Quickly, my father and uncle adopted his path. Sadly, my grandfather died in his 60s, so I by no means met him. Nonetheless, taking a look at images and listening to tales from the household, I’m instructed I inherited his seems to be, character, regular arms, and expertise!
What occurred to your loved ones in the course of the communist period? How did the Becsei preserve the custom alive?
That is an attention-grabbing query as a result of personal companies had been banned in that period. My grandfather had opened a workshop, and my grandmother needed to ask for permits from the authorities. The primary response was a convincing ‘no’. Nonetheless, she returned along with her two small sons and requested an officer for assist. She returned time and again, and ultimately – and who is aware of exactly why – they allowed my grandfather to open a small workshop on a facet avenue. It couldn’t be on the principle street or within the metropolis centre. My grandfather labored right here till his dying, and my father took over the enterprise for some time. When issues began to vary, my father and his brother opened their very own workshops: my uncle’s was on the principle street, whereas my father’s was within the metropolis centre. Paradoxically, I don’t have an open store, however my workshop is obtainable to the world!
Who tutored you?
My father taught me the fundamentals in his workshop. Like his father, he labored on restoring items and creating mechanisms for current actions. He additionally took me to a number of watch museums in Europe to understand the artwork of high-quality mechanical watches in addition to the concord and refined proportions of among the most distinctive items. He took me to the Musée Worldwide d’Horologerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds, to the Patek Philippe museum in Geneva and to the Clock and Watch Museum in Vienna. Aside from his work as a watchmaker, my father was a continuing traveller and adventurer. These journeys had been good excuses to coach me but additionally to spend and revel in time collectively as father and son. In Europe, we’d go to vintage markets and watch gala’s. They had been ‘low value’ journeys as a result of we couldn’t afford anything, however I discovered the fundamentals of watchmaking historical past and the evolution of watch design over the centuries. Though my father is now retired, he nonetheless performs restoration work.
When did you first really feel your ‘calling’?
Once I was a young person, my father used to let me deal with his watchmaking instruments and have interaction in some very primary work. Nonetheless, in these days, I used to be taking part in water polo within the Hungarian Championship league and was coaching six days every week and taking part in a match as soon as every week, so I didn’t have a lot time for watchmaking. Once I completed secondary college, I needed to determine between watchmaking and water polo. And there was no query about my choice. I cherished restoration work, and by the point I began highschool, I used to be engaged on CAD/CAM programming to fulfill my ardour for mechanical engineering and watchmaking (Editor’s word: Aaron graduated with honours from the Chamber of Engineering in Budapest in CAD/CAM programming). Once I began engaged on restoration initiatives, I might use my engineering information to make particular elements and replacements. As time glided by, I realised that my dream was to create timepieces. Nonetheless, the massive query was whether or not I might earn a dwelling from watchmaking.
Which had been a few of your favorite timepieces as a younger man? Did they affect your style?
My favourites had been the Empire-style desk and wall clocks, and sure, this model influenced me drastically. They had been ornate items however not overly adorned items; they represented objects from the ‘stunning previous’ and gave me a supply of recent inspiration in our boring period of ‘retro-mania’. You possibly can respect the affect of those Empire clocks in my very first hand-built timepieces: the Miniature Double Pendule Zappler and the Tourbillon No. 1 desk clock, introduced at Baselworld 2005.
Certainly you didn’t go straight into watchmaking? There should have been some additional steps.
You’re completely proper. After I met my spouse, Eszter, and talked about our future goals, she inspired me to pursue my dream of making watches, not simply restoring them. At round this time, we heard concerning the AHCI (Academy of Unbiased Creators in Watchmaking) and found that the previous president was dwelling in Vienna. We contacted him, and I paid him a go to with a few of my ‘interest’ items. He was very encouraging and supportive, and a brand new chapter in my life started. I began to imagine that I might earn a dwelling with my ardour by creating timepieces with my title. (Editor’s word: After his debut at Baselworld 2005, Aaron was elected because the youngest member of the AHCI.)
What number of watches do you make a 12 months?
My output remains to be fairly low as a result of I’m creating my workshop step-by-step. That is no straightforward process as a result of it’s only one man (me) making tremendous refined wristwatches at his workbench. Output is essentially low as a result of I make all of the elements myself and spend a substantial amount of time ending the items, some of the time-consuming phases of creating customised timepieces. Each bespoke timepiece I make is actually like ranging from scratch, it’s a prototype, and no corners might be lower. I’ll now be transferring my two small ateliers into a bigger area, however the course of is identical: one man along with his apprentices making every watch painstakingly by hand. In the intervening time, I’ve two full-time and two part-time assistants. I hope to extend my present manufacturing of 3-5 items to 10-15 timepieces per 12 months. I don’t need to transcend this threshold and like to take care of a detailed relationship with my prospects and provides them the eye they deserve.
What motivates you, and which do you contemplate your greatest timepiece thus far?
I prefer to create. I just like the bodily act of turning inert materials into an artisanal work, like an alchemist remodeling base metals into gold. So long as I can generate new concepts, new constructions, new manufacturing strategies, I’m completely happy. Sadly, as quickly as I give you a novel resolution, I begin in search of one other one, which might create a sensation of overload. So, in reply to your query about my favorite watch: it’s all the time the present one. Nonetheless, my all-time favorite will all the time be my first wristwatch, the Primus, with its patented triple-axis tourbillon.
What does the longer term maintain for Bexei Watches? A spherical motion, maybe?
I often have multiple thought in my head, however first, I need to end my smaller 38mm motion and primarily based on that, I plan to create a spherical mechanism for the ’spherical followers’. I used to say that I’d solely make a spherical motion when the snow is crimson. Effectively, final winter, the snow was crimson as a result of Sahara desert sand had reached Hungary. (editor’s word: for the reason that interview, Aaron has been capable of design this spherical watch and, completely for us, right here it’s…)
Can we discuss concerning the finishings that make your watches so distinctive?
Past designing and manufacturing elements, the method of in-house ending contains the opposite half of my workload. I invent and develop all of the manufacturing steps and am continuously attempting to enhance them. Generally, the ending takes extra time than the manufacturing of a given half. I’m very proud that some collectors have stated my ending is the best on this planet. One in all my associates stated that “Aaron operates on the degree of a youthful Dufour”! Dufour is the grasp; I revere his work and have tried to be taught all I can from his stunning watches. I attempt to make my watches worthy of his consideration.
It’s been an extended and winding street of 24/7 dedication, 12 months a 12 months. I’m constantly studying and testing; will probably be a unending story to maintain up with or surpass my present high quality degree. Each day I get up occupied with an enchancment to my watches, and I’ve to take heed to meditation music to disconnect my thoughts and get some sleep!
My timepieces evolve slowly as a result of in every step of growth, manufacturing and ending, I’m attempting out new strategies, working with new instruments, new supplies. Generally, my prospects will ask for a distinct materials or a distinct form, however largely it comes right down to my perfectionism. Because of this I can vouch for the truth that each bit I create is a prototype.
That are a few of your favorite watches?
There are numerous watches with fascinating actions and exquisite finishings. The aesthetics and finishings of vintage Patek Philippe watches are near my coronary heart, as are more moderen fashions such because the Calibre 89 Grand Complication pocket watch; I used to be amazed by its complexity and sweetness. However, I additionally admire the engineering growth of Piaget’s ultra-thin Altiplano motion.
What makes your watches distinctive?
My watches are born in my thoughts and made with my arms. I envision them, invent them and manufacture them with my very own strategies. As a result of they’re solely sui generis, I might be extraordinarily versatile concerning customisation. This ‘one-man present’ method permits me to discover new strategies for ending, which is an added worth for collectors once they realise what number of working hours have gone into a bit.
For instance, on my newest watch, I spent virtually six months discovering the best software and the best approach to black polish and blacken the seven sides of my new double bevelled indices. However I additionally spend time refining, reshaping and sharpening the ruby jewels whereas others simply purchase them and place them into the motion (in the event that they haven’t already purchased them with the motion half).
It’s the small particulars that make an enormous distinction. After black sharpening, I verify the piece below a 10-15x microscope; the usual within the watchmaking trade is a 3x loupe. One other lucky side of my work is that my shoppers perceive that I want time to complete my creations to my requirements, and I can’t be grateful sufficient for his or her persistence and generosity.
For extra particulars concerning the work of Aaron Becsei, please go to www.bexei.hu.