Cover photo: MIH Gaïa. Photo by R. Sterchi gris.
At the 25th Gaïa Prize ceremony this past Thursday, September 19, the International Watchmaking Museum (Musée International d’Horlogerie), or MIH, in La Chaux-de-Fonds, unveiled its newest MIH Gaïa watch.
Developed by in-house experts and produced with the help of local businesses and artisans from La Chaux-de-Fonds, sales of the watch will assist the museum as it develops programs to raise public awareness of watchmaking and local watchmakers and to fund projects to restore, document and showcase the museum’s collection.
The MIH explains that the watch’s design was inspired by the architecture of the museum itself, which alternates between empty space, concrete and light. Thus, the watch’s 39mm steel-case combines intricate curves and straight lines. The domed dial is meant to recall the orb-shaped Gaïa Prize trophy, which the MIH awards annually to three exemplary members of the watchmaking community.
The designers also moved away from a traditional analog display by indicating hours and minutes using two discs instead of hands. In homage to the Grand Magicien, an 1830 automaton the museum is restoring, the back of the watch allows a glimpse of the winding oscillating weight engraved with the name “Musée International d’Horlogerie.”
To develop the watch, which will be made at first as a limited edition of 200 blue-colored pieces, MIH enlisted these local watchmaking businesses: Atelier XJC came up with the design; Sellita provided the movement; the designers at Timeforge developed the technical plans; Singer built the dial; Stila provided a bespoke case; Brasport fitted a leather strap; Cornu & Cie made the buckle; and Laboratoire Dubois ensured its reliability by carrying out a series of tests.
This new watch is the museum’s second in-house timepiece. You may recall that in 2005, the MIH designed and produced its first watch at the initiative of the museum’s then curator Ludwig Oechslin, of Ulysse Nardin fame. That watch continues to be in-demand by collectors.
The new MIH watch, priced at CHF 2,900 (about $2,914) is available online on a subscription basis until January 19, 2020, at www.montremih.ch, and at the MIH shop inside the museum. The first few subscribers who start the production process by supporting the museum will receive a discount of CHF 500. An initial payment of CHF 1,000 will be taken when orders are placed, with the balance to be paid upon delivery in summer 2020. If subscriptions do not reach the levels expected, those investments will be refunded in full.
Specifications: MIH Gaïa, Series I (limited to 200 pieces)
Case: 39mm by 9.74mm Stila SA Stainless steel 316 L, water resistant to 30 meters, sapphire crystal
Display: Jean Singer & Cie PVD-treated main dial, rhodium-plated hour disc, PVD-treated central minute disc
Movement: Automatic Sellita SW400-1 caliber, oscillating weight engraved with "Musée international d’horlogerie," Power reserve: 38 hours, frequency of 28,800 Vph
Strap: Brasport S.A. Calf leather
Clasp: Cornu & Cie SAtongue buckle with tool-free removal system, engraved with "MIH" and featuring the museum’s geographical coordinates (47°06'03'' N / 06°49'48'' E)
“MIH Gaïa,” “Swiss made,” “La Chaux-de-Fonds” and individual serial number engraved on the caseback, “MIH” engraved on the crown
Price: CHF 2,400 during the subscription period, thereafter CHF 2,900