mechanical watches


Louis Vuitton presents three highly artisanal Louis Vuitton Escale watches, each combining engraving, enameling, sculpture and even marquetry in timepieces that explore themes inspired by nature and by fantasy.

One of three debuts announcing the Louis Vuitton Escale series of artisans watches. The watch is called Louis Vuitton Escale Cabinet of Wonders Koi’s Garden.

The new Escale series follows Louis Vuitton’s equally ambitious update to its Tambour collection and represents a new, high-end approach to the watchmaker’s artisanal watches.  Escale watches will all feature a round case and hand-polished case horns meant to recall the metal brackets of Louis Vuitton trunks. 

Called the Cabinet of Wonders, the trio of limited-edition watches that introduce Escale are inspired by the personal collections of Gaston-Louis Vuitton, third-generation member of the company’s founding family who led the company from 1907 to 1970. 

Gaston-Louis Vuitton was collector of fine decorative objects, including antique and highly decorated Japanese katana sword guards, which directly influenced the design and symbolism of these new watches.

By combining a full range of artisanal case-making and dial-making techniques to these watches, Louis Vuitton continues its enhance its reputation as one of the few makers of high-end watches that has mastered a full range of traditional decorative techniques. 

Louis Vuitton’s fine watchmaking department in Geneva, La Fabrique du Temps, creates this series through a well-considered blend of internal expertise and external talent, including Eddy Jaquet (engraving), Fanny Queloz (damascening), Rose Saneuil (marquetry) and Vanessa Lecci (enameling). The internal and external team followed the aesthetic vision of famed métiers d’art timepiece designer Marie Boutteçon.

Garden of tranquillity

This watch, called Louis Vuitton Escale Cabinet of Wonders Koi’s Garden, is a 40mm white gold stunner that depicts two carp swimming in a stream, surrounded by colorful pebbles. 

Louis Vuitton notes that its artisans needed fully 150 hours to carefully hand-sculpt the koi. Kiln-firing added a fine layer of dark oxide to the carp, while polishing and painting finish the overall effect. The koi are coated with a translucent blue lacquer in order to make them glisten in the light.

Artisans hand-engraved the water lines onto the white-gold dial plate, where Gaston-Louis Vuitton’s personal monogram is seen at the 6 o’clock position, also sculpted from gold and set with onyx.

Into the forest

On the Louis Vuitton Escale Cabinet of Wonders Snake’s Jungle, a jeweled blue and green snake rears its head at an orb of gold and nephrite jade that forms the monogram of Gaston-Louis Vuitton.

The dial’s bamboo forest is made using marquetry techniques. These required the artisan to cut and hand-assemble wood, parchment and straw in a way that depicts fourteen shades of green.

The artists required 367 individual pieces to complete the dial puzzle, which utilizes four varieties of wood, three colors of straw and two types of parchment.

For the serpent, artisans combined three techniques: micro-sculpture, engraving and champlevé enameling. Sculpted, engraved and enameled bamboo leaves
frame the upper right corner of the dial.


For this watch, called the Louis Vuitton Escale Cabinet of Wonders Dragon’s Cloud, artisans have created a rose gold triptyque depicting that is clutching a carnelian-set GLV monogram.

Here the artisans used technique called damascening, which is a form of decorative inlay using metals of contrasting colors. The resulting layered pattern mimics many natural textures.

The watch’s dial plate is hammered to a matte finish, after which yellow-gold or rose-gold wires are cold-worked into the plate. The dragon and the clouds are engraved and the scales are enameled.

Notably, the lower half of its body is created using paillonné enamel, a rare form of enamel that contains tiny pieces of gold leaf (known as paillons) suspended between layers of translucent enamel.

Finally, the dragon’s eye appears to glow because it is composed of a cabochon-cut ruby.

New cases & hands

All the new Escale watches feature a new, lightly curved case that frames a domed crystal. Louis Vuitton has reworked its hour and minute hands, which now are lance-shaped and polished and faceted to reflect the light.

All three watches also feature a crown set with the same stone that adorns the corresponding GLV monogram on its dial. Inside Louis Vuitton fits its chronometer-rated manufacture caliber LFT023, which is decorated with Seigaiha waves, a stylized representation of the ocean found in traditional Japanese iconography.

Each new Louis Vuitton Escale watch is paired with a calf-leather strap, hand-braided to resemble the braided leather hilts of Japanese katana swords.

Each of the three models of the Louis Vuitton Escale Cabinet of Wonders collection is limited to twenty pieces. The Koi’s Garden comes in a white-gold case (40mm) with blue strap; the Snake’s Jungle comes in a white-gold case (40mm) with green strap; and the Dragon’s Cloud comes in a rose-gold case (40mm) with brown strap. 

Prices upon request. 

Watchmaker and RGM founder Roland Murphy will headline the November Horological Society of New York (HSNY) lecture at the organization’s New York headquarters on Nov. 6. with his discussion “Inside the James Arthur Collection: A Patek Philippe Grand Complication.”

The Pennsylvania-based Murphy was asked in the mid-1990s by the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors (NAWCC) Museum to repair a Patek Philippe Grand Complication — an important timepiece in the James Arthur collection. The Association at the time was making a video and needed the repeater mechanism inside the watch to function. Additionally, photographs were taken during the repair and restoration process to give a glimpse inside the extremely rare and complicated watch.

Roland G. Murphy

Earlier this year, the 35mm negatives were shared for the first time, and during his lecture Murphy will share the scans and his experience of repairing one of the most important watches in horological history.

The lecture is free of charge (RSVP required) and takes place at the HSNY headquarters at the General Society Library, 20 West 44th Street in New York City. Click here for details and to RSVP. 

Doors open at 6 p,m. with the lecture set to begin at 7 p.m.


By Gary Girdvainis

Ten years ago, business partners RT Custer and Tyler Wolfe created something new out of something old and brought the Vortic watch brand to life. Housing refurbished vintage American pocket watch movements into wristwatch cases crafted in the United States was a novel idea that brought renewed interest in an Americas watchmaking heritage, while simultaneously creating watches that could legitimately be called Made In the USA.

Ten years later,  a sister brand, Colorado Watch Company, joins the vintage-powered Vortic.

 Successfully launched on Kickstarter, the Colorado Watch Company is following the founding duos desire to build watches in the USA – in this case with a modern movement and the ability to scale from hundreds of watches per year to thousands.

Colorado Watch Company Field Watch Prototype, pictured in four options.

For us, Colorado Watch Company represents our desire to continue to do big, exciting things,” says RT Custer. “We know how to make hundreds of watches in America, and have been doing it with Vortic for nearly a decade. But what about thousands? What if we could create dozens of jobs, not just a handful? Colorado Watch Company represents our American Dream, and we like to dream big!”

As part of this expansion, the partners have relocated to a new facility in Fort Collins Colorado, and invested substantially in a series of machines and equipment critical to making cases and components for watches right in their own facility. Swiss lathes, five-axis CNC milling machines, automated pad printers and more have allowed the partners to take the next steps in American watchmaking.

Field Watch and GCT case machining process.

Initially, two case variations are offered; one is Tyler’s design (the 40mm Field Watch), and the other by RT (the 42mm GCT). Four variants of each are offered in total, each with two dial and two case options. 

The Field Watch

At 40mm with 20mm between the lugs, the 316L stainless-steel Field Watch will comfortably fit on almost anyones wrist. Its also slimmer than you might expect for an automatic watch at just 10.5mm due to the fact that the threaded case-back is recessed within the back and shaves off a couple of millimeters in height – a clever engineering solution for sure.

In the steel-case version, Colorado Watch decided to leave the subtle machining marks as a unique hallmark that adds an industrial effect while emphasizing that these cases were in fact made on-site.

The Field watch dial is machined and printed in Colorado.

Of course, these marks could be polished out and the makers could (and probably will) add different finishes in the future, but this clever bit of wabi-sabi adds an air of authenticity. DLC versions in black will not have the same effect and are polished before coating. 

Field watch and GCT back view, showing FTS automatic movement.

Inside the case beats an Americhron 7020 automatic-winding movement built by FTS USA in Arizona. Shock resistant, accurate, and beating at a frequency of 28,880 bph, the 7A20 movements have a power reserve of around 40 hours and were designed by a team of watchmakers, including FTSown Chief Technical Officer.

FTS automatic movement, showing balance assembly.

Above the movement, the stepped dials are available in a smooth white finish or machined steel. They are also crafted in-house at Fort Collins with integrated (not welded) dial feet adding strength and security to a notorious weak spot in almost any wristwatch. BGW9 lume graces the hands and pip at 12 oclock, while a domestically sourced sapphire crystal sits atop the case.

Even the screws and crown/stem combinations are made on site. Water resistance has been confirmed to 5atm with the non-screw-down crown, but expect a 10atm rating by the time they are delivered. Retail price is $995.

The Colorado Watch Company GCT Watch.


Designed by RT, the GCT is slightly larger than the Field Watch at 42mm, but much more wearable than its 49mm inspiration – the original Military pocket-watch conversion that became a favorite among Vortic collectors. 

In this modern homage to the original, the screw-down crown is relocated to the 12 oclock position, while the stepped dial features Super-Luminova that recalls the colors of the aged radium look of the military original.

Like the Field watch, the GCT case is available in the raw steel version or the black DLC. Similarly, the stepped dials are available in a flat black or machined variation. The same Americhron 7A20 movement beats inside and is visible through the exhibition back in all versions.

Water resistant to 10atm when the crown is screwed down, the GCT also retains some water resistance even when the crown is in the unscrewed position thanks to a gasket system that acts as a backup for the absent-minded watch enthusiast. Retail price is $1,395. 

Growing from Vortic to adding Colorado Watch Company while installing the machinery and expertise is no easy task. Neither is it easy to build an American watch manufacturer that can scale up to produce thousands of watches per year.

The GCT’s steel components.

Nevertheless, Custer and Tyler have taken another massive step in bringing watchmaking back to life in the United States and I congratulate them on their success and look forward to following their watchmaking journey wherever it may lead them in the future. Learn more at the Vortic Watches site.  



Greubel Forsey plans to nearly triple the size of its manufacturing facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds with an investment of 20 million Swiss francs. Set to be completed by 2026, the expansion is aimed at strengthening the watchmaker’s research and development, heighten its watchmaking autonomy and gradually increase production capacity.

Expanding from 2,000 square meters to 5,460 square meters, Greubel Forsey intends to build a new building that will encompass the existing structure (which dates from 2009) while retaining the architectural features specific to this site. Work is scheduled to start in the first quarter of 2024, marking the brand’s 20th anniversary.

The underground level of the new facility will include storage areas and an employee wellness room, while the ground floor will house production, logistics, quality control and R&D areas. The upper floors will be dedicated to assembly, hand finishing, clean rooms, laboratories, product development with research and design offices, as well as after-sales service, administration and other related areas.

The adjacent 17th-century farmhouse, a symbol of Greubel Forsey’s traditional roots, will be transformed into a VIP area, a lounge, a museum and a restoration workshop.

The Greubel Forsey GMT Balancier Convexe.

“This new facility will enable us to integrate new skill sets, create new workshops – especially in R&D Innovation – and push the boundaries of hand finishing excellence with a team dedicated solely to hand finishing R&D,” says Greubel Forsey CEO Antonio Calce. He adds that a number of workshops will be set up, including one dedicated solely to mastering the regulating organ (balance spring and balance wheel) and another to making complex cases.

Greubel Forsey’s 30˚ inclined balance wheel, seemingly suspended in mid-air, is held by a beautiful flat black polished and barrel polished steel balance wheel bridge on polished steel pillars.

Greubel Forsey reports that in 2022 it manufactured 260 timepieces, all of which were delivered to collectors and enthusiasts. Look to the watchmaker launching new timepieces and an 8th Fundamental Invention this year.

Source: Greubel Forsey 

The new exhibit “Pocket Genius: The Watch Collection of Alex Ku at the Horological Society of New York (HSNY) headquarters in New York explores the evolution of timepieces through an extensive collection of pocket watches. 

On view from June through December 2023, the exhibit features more than fifty time-only pocket watches, inventive escapements, gem-encrusted cases and highly complicated pieces. 

The exhibit, with watches on loan from California-based watch aficionado Alex Ku, highlights timepieces dating from the 1690s to the 1990s, examining the role that watches have played in society, from their use in navigation and timekeeping to their use as status symbols and works of art.

From the exhibit, a George Graham work, London, c. 1740, No. 6091, key-wind movement with brass-wheel cylinder escapement and fusee, engraved pierced dial with rotating hour disk and single stationary hand, 45mm.

Highlights include a dumb quarter-repeating jump-hour pocket watch by Abraham-Louis Breguet, a co-axial escapement by Charles Fasoldt, complicated timepieces like Louis Chanson’s skeletonized perpetual calendar with a lunar indicator, and enameled masterpieces by Patek Philippe for Tiffany & Co.

A 55mm pocket watch made by Jean -Antoine Lepine, c. 1780, 18K gold case, quarter-dumb-repeating Lépine-caliber movement with wolf tooth wheel train and a lateral lever escapement.

The exhibit is currently on display at HSNY’s Jost Bürgi Research Library, and is divided into four sections: “Historical Watchmakers,” “Escapements,” “Complications” and “Aesthetics.” In addition, the HSNY has added a ‘bonus’ display: a George Daniels co-axial escapement model, on loan from British independent watchmaker and Daniels protegee Roger W. Smith OBE.

“To carry a pocket watch crafted by a historical master watchmaker is to feel that you hold a piece of horological history in your hand,” says Ku. “For many pieces in my collection, the mission to discover their stories really began only after acquiring them. I’m proud to share pieces from my collection for all to view and learn from, as I have. 

HSNY is offering a a fully illustrated catalog for the collection that includes macro photography by Atom Moore and Collector Notes from Ku. The catalog is available for purchase in-person and online. Proceeds from the sales go towards meeting HSNY’s mission of advancing the art and science of horology. 

Pocket Genius is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm. Admission is free. HSNY is located at 20 West 44th Street, Suite 501, New York, NY 10036.