“I don’t think about the ultimate value of the work I am doing”, Julien began, “that’s for someone else to worry about. For me, I’m too focused on creating the finest watch ever - every time”.
There are times when Villeret, Switzerland-based Julien is so intent on his current piece that hours slip by unnoticed, as do mealtimes and coffee-breaks. Whilst we may have become accustomed to appreciating some of the finer things in life - a hand-built Aston Martin, a hand-knitted cashmere sweater, a bespoke tailored suit - it really makes one sit up and take notice when you learn such are the intricacies of the pieces Julien and his colleagues at Mont Blanc are dedicated to creating, that they often have create the tools in order to bring to reality their vision.
“We work with the designer, but from the point of production onwards it is in the watchmakers hands”, Julien said. Quite literally too. “Often we’re doing things for the very first time, and there isn’t a stock of tools we can rely on for this”. So they make their own.
“I become very close to the piece I am working on, every time”, he explains.
This isn’t a career one would embark upon lightly. Julien has studied the great watchmakers of history, and spent time in the hallowed workshops of some Europe’s most illustrious and skilled craftsmen.
Listening to Julien talk, his passion for his craft (he stops short of referring to what he creates as art, or himself as an artist) is clear. I’m keen to learn from him where he sees the heart of his creations lies, where he sees the soul of each watch.
“Whatever we feel about my creations, they are essentially machines”, he replies. “They do have a heart - the balance wheel. This is where a watch comes to life”. He does go on to talk about his, and the final owner’s, connection with his finely made watches.
There is a prescribed order in which a piece is made and assembled. The balance wheel is neither the first nor the last piece to be placed. Yet it is only when its motion is begun that Julien feels he has ‘breathed life’ in to his latest creation.
These pieces are not bought for the moment, they are bought for eternity. And there is no better way to count the seconds to eternity than with one of Julien’s Mont Blanc watches. That they are objects of beauty is undeniable. Timeless beauty.
You can find out more about Mont Blanc watches at www.montblanc.com
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #18 Dec.09