Saturelle timepiece by the independent watchmaker Andreas Strehler displays an original solution to the problem of providing the balance with the constant energy, regardless of the amount of energy stored in the mainspring. The ingenious and technically extremely stable solution involves a satellite gear attached to the seconds wheel. This star-shaped satellite gear visible through a skeletonized section of the silver guilloche dial includes a spring which reloads once every second and then transfers the energy to the balance. Not only that it provides a constant amount of energy which, naturally, significantly improves the accuracy, but it also enables the display of dead-beat seconds and thus provides the timepiece with an additional interesting complication. The latest watch launched by the Strehler’s own brand is fitted into an oval-shaped case made from red gold or platinum and, as it is usual for the brand’s models, comes in an extremely restricted issue, since the Swiss watchmaker tends to create between three and ten watches per year which end up on the wrists of the fortunate selected clients.
Prolific, Innovative & Independent
Andreas Strehler is a very respectable Swiss watchmaker who studied the trade in Frauenfeld and Solothurn watchmaking schools. At the start of his career, Strehler was employed in Renaud et Papi where he worked on the development of prototypes and complex mechanisms and where he quickly established himself as a renowned and prolific innovator. Eighteen years ago, however, Strehler decided to go independent. With the help of his father who is actually the man that inspired him to become a watchmaker, Andreas Strehler opened up a workshop in the family garage. The decision to go solo was pretty expected, since Strehler used to and still says that he prefers to work alone because he considers it to be the most efficient and fastest way of making watches.
The first major success that Strehler achieved by working independently came in 1998 when he presented a magnificent timekeeper which was sort of a blend between a table calendar and a pocket watch. While the table clock portion of this timepiece is reserved for the calendar indications, the time is indicated on the detachable pocket watch. When the pocket watch is removed from its basis, the calendar does not change its indication. However, once it is put back, the calendar immediately catches up and moves its displays to the current date (providing that this interval is not longer than three weeks). This remarkable timekeeper grabbed the attention at the Baselworld fair where it saw the light of day. It featured the complication that was similar to Abraham-Louis Breguet’s Sympatique piece, but it was execute in the entirely different fashion.
Another intriguing piece came the following year when Strehler completed his Zwei watch which is a great example of his ingenious and minimalistic approach to design. This timekeeper included only two central hands which were used for hours and minutes, but also for month and date indications which are shown after the wearer presses the pushers to activate a special mechanism.
During the course of years, Strehler occasionally embarked on collaborations with major watchmaking brands. Among the companies that Strehler worked for are Harry Winston (specifically its Opus 7 watch), Maitres du Temps (Chapter Three), Maurice Lacroix (Masterpiece Le Chronographe Squelette), H.Moser & Cie (Perpetual 1 piece that won the Best Complicated Award at the GPHG 2006), Vogard Datezone Pilot Chronograph, Chronoswiss (Chronoscope; this collaboration is likewise of upmost importance for Sauturelle timekeeper, but we shall talk about it a bit later on) and others. It is very important to say that the renowned Swiss horologist is also a member of the Academie Horlogere des Createurs Independants (AHCI) since 2000 and that he is this year’s winner of the prestigious Gaia Award in the category Crafts – Creation which is given by the jury of the International Watch Museum in Chaux-de-Fond’s.
The new Sauturelle timekeeper is one of Strehler’s creations that follows the philosophy which compares the watch movements to living organisms. Though launched after the similarly inspired Papillon (French for “butterfly”; premiered in 2008) and Cocon (meaning “cocoon”; saw the light of day last year), Sauturelle (“grasshopper”) is actually a concept from a few years ago. The watch was actually supposed to be launched by Chronoswiss with whom Strehler was collaborating (it was supposed to have the same name – Sauterelle). Unfortunately for Chronoswiss, due to difficulties that marred the company at that time, the project was not completed and the watch was not launched. Fortunately for all watch aficionados, Strehler is now presenting this concept in his own interpretation. Andreas Stehler Sauturelle was initially previewed at this year’s edition of the Baselworld show and fully unveiled and exposed at the Salon QP in London this November, where the watchmaker even presented a larger scale model of the timepiece in order to explain its functioning.
The Problem of Regulated Energy
As it has been mentioned, the main horological value of the Strehler’s new watch is the original planetary mechanism that tackles the problem of energy regulation. Usually, when a mainspring is fully wounded, the balance receives more energy than it is necessary. When the power reserve is at the end, we have a reversed situation and the amount of distributed energy is insufficient. Both of these situations have a harmful effect on the accuracy of the timepiece. This is an issue of paramount importance, as it can be demonstrated with the fact that Girard-Perregaux Constant Escapement L.M. timepiece (that has its own manner in which it resolves the problem) snatched the main award at this year’sedition of the GPHG awards. Some of the other solutions to the problem are exemplified in the models we have previously reviewed, such as A. Lange & Sohne Lange Zeitwerk Handwerkskunst, Christophe Claret Kantharos Chronograph, IWC’s models Ingenieur Constant-Force Tourbillon and Portuguese Siderale Scafusia, Thomas Prescher Nemo Captain and Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane.
The First Ever Remontoire d’Egalite with a Satellite Gear
However, let us get back to the “Grasshopper” model we are now covering. This watch uses an innovative version of remontoire d’egalite mechanism in order to tackle the problem. This feature, also known as just remontoire, utilizes a secondary source of energy, or in other words, the balance does not get the energy straight from the mainspring, but instead through an intermediary which is in this instance the skeletonized planetary mechanism. This exposed satellite gear distributes the same amount of power to the seconds wheel. Moreover, it simultaneously displays secondes mortes as it rotates in six degree increments (Among the others, this complication also known as dead-beat seconds where the indication for seconds moves in one-second increments, just like it can be seen in quartz watches, is present in the previously reviewed Antoine Martin Slow Runner, Arnold & Son East India Set and Gronefeld One Hertz). The energy from twin barrels of the watch’s mechanism travels to the satellite wheel with a star-shaped contours and afterwards gets transferred to the balance. Then, until the next impulse, the satellite wheel stands still again the palette-stone. It is very important to accentuate that this is the first time that this planetary mechanism is used in a wristwatch.
Hand-Finishes on a Stripped Movement
The hand-wound caliber of Sauterelle is clearly distinguished with this skeletonized mechanism that secures regulated energy throughout the entire 78 hours of power reserve. It should also be said that the movement has the frequency of 21,600 vph and is richly decorated by hand, as it can be seen through the transparent sapphire case back (sapphire with anti-coating treatment is likewise used for the crystal). Once you turn the watch to the rear side, you can admire its visually striking movement with stripped hand-beveled butterfly-styled bridges with Cotes de Geneva stripes, as well as stripped gear wheels that all in conjuncture exemplify Strehler’s minimalistic style of design. The appealing high-end aesthetics can once again be noticed on its silver dial with guilloche pattern on the off-centered dial with four larger stylized Arabic numerals and blued steel hands. The watch if fitted into a graceful oval casing that can be constructed from either 18K red gold or platinum. Unfortunately, there is no exact information regarding the dimensions of the housing with a crenulated crown. The final touch in the lovely ensemble is a black hand-sewn alligator leather strap.