The sole true meaning of History lies in its capacity to interpret the present and enlighten the future. This universal precept is particularly relevant in the field of fine watchmaking, although it is not in itself sufficient to forge worldwide success - because electricity was not invented by perfecting candles! Having grasped this truth, Gérald Clerc, currently at the helm of the Clerc company founded in 1874, has carved out a place of his own within the select circle of contemporary creative watchmakers. While his timepieces could not hope for a finer mode of expression than the ancestral know-how of which he is the modern day guardian, they are currently interpreted through a far more daring approach. Determined not to passively wait for events to catch up with him, Gérald Clerc is already laying milestones embodying state-of-the-art research in the fields of space and deep ocean exploration technologies - somewhat like archaeological testimony to a future in the making.
The era of mechanical techno-luxury
Creator of this “futuristic Haute Horlogerie”, as he likes to define it, Gérald Clerc is a cosmopolitan watchmaker with a keen interest in architecture. Fascinated by the 1960s, a period brimming with optimism and confidence during which Humankind threw itself wholeheartedly into the pursuit of progress, Gérald Clerc considers the conquest of space as the greatest adventure of all
time. When this representative of the fourth generation took over the family business in 1997, he inherited more than just expertise, but a wealth of passion. This invaluable legacy, transmitted by a form of osmosis, nurtures a constant flow of exceptional horology and technical innovations from which he draws inspiration and which enables him to assert himself as a pioneer of tomorrow’s
Synonymous with a break from traditions, his mechanical techno-luxury creations follow the dictates of a single rule: inventiveness. Each conceived as a unique work of art, Clerc watches yield no concessions in the drive to improve quality. As Gérald Clerc loves to say: “I create timepieces the way I like them, without making any compromises”. Few leaders in the field of Haute Horlogerie can claim to cherish such an exceptional degree of freedom, providing a sure path towards exclusivity. This is doubtless because this independent creative spirit has long relegated commercial constraints to a secondary role, preferring to govern by the rule of the heart and focusing on aesthetics and technical perfection rather than the rigors of industrial strategy. This approach naturally does not preclude strict compliance with the highest standards of craftsmanship and finishing prevailing within the Swiss luxury watch industry.
The Hydroscaph, one of the latest creations by Gérald Clerc, vividly illustrates this philosophy. Housed in a sleek, sophisticated and ultra-complex case (composed of more than 75 parts) that called for a whole new construction process, the Hydrograph affords a whole new vision of fine watchmaking. Waterresistant to 1000 meters, this exceptional model is equipped with an automatic helium valve and lateral reinforcements. Its exclusive complication self-winding movement drives the hours, minutes, seconds and the power-reserve display, as well as a large jumping date or dual time-zone display, depending on the model. Its rotating bezel is activated using a special secure crown and thus avoiding any
risk of accidental deregulation when diving. The grade 5 titanium case features the signature octagonal shape that has forged the brand’s success: a square topped by a circle. Measuring 49.6 mm in diameter and fitted with self-adjusting lugs designed to make a perfect fit on all wrists, the Hydroscaph is the most sophisticated diver’s watch on the market.
2009 brings another new launch: the Odyssey Lady. Many will recall the sensation caused by the 2008 release of the masculine version of this exceptional timepiece. Inspired by space research in terms of the materials used-black titanium, ceramics, carbon fibers and palladium - Odyssey is patently built for exploration and adventure. Secured to the case, a sliding bridge guard covers the crown, pushers and the activating mechanism for the inner rotating bezel - forming a unique protective system eliminating any possibility of inadvertent handling. The exclusive mechanical hand-wound movement, powered by two barrels ensuring an exceptional 120-hour power reserve, drives the hour, minute and seconds hands along with a retrograde date at 2 o’clock and a power-reserve display at 6 o’clock. Gérald Clerc emphasizes his creative motivation for this model: “My purpose in designing the Odyssey was the quest for purity”.
Speaking to women’s hearts
A watchmaker must indeed know how to speak women’s language. The Odyssey Lady Skeleton and the Odyssey Lady Galaxy are open invitations to all ladies wishing to join in the adventure. The former is a spectacular Haute Joaillerie creation equipped with an exclusive mechanical self-winding skeleton movement-driving hour, minute and seconds hands - within a delicately gem-set case in 18-carat pink gold or ceramics and polished black titanium. The gem-set Arabic numerals at 6 and 12 o’clock create a distinctive effect of depth on this transparent watch face offering a plunging view of the movement. The exquisitely openworked and decorated bridges and gear trains are thus revealed through a transparent sapphire crystal dial in a stunning expression of this horological art form. Meanwhile, the face of the Odyssey Lady Galaxy evokes the Milky Way through a spiral of diamonds swirling against a cloisonné mother-of-pearl or enamel backdrop. This exceptional feminine timepiece will appeal to dreamers who like to keep their head in the stars.
International distribution and rarity
Available through a carefully selected retail network spanning the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, the Middle East and Europe, Gérald Clerc’s creations are all accompanied by a three-year international warranty. More eloquently than any theoretical statements, this policy offers concrete proof of the extraordinary qualitative superiority of Clerc watches - evidence that in this case resembles the proverbial icing on the cake. A treat that not all devotees of futuristic Haute Horlogerie will be able to savor, since Gérald Clerc deliberately issues his watches in limited series only.
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #14