The Mecavers Project

NOTE OF INTENT BY DENIS FLAGEOLLET

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Tempus Fugit

 

The ultimate watch... Through its myriad gears, the one which will retrace the history of Time, the universal history of the terrestrial and celestial mechanics.

 

"Tempus Fugit", a Latin phrase inscribed on timepieces since the origins of watchmaking, reminds us that Time flies and that our existence on Earth is fleeting.

 

Tempus Fugit… Should we let the world go down the drain without more than an attempt to minimise our impact on the environment, if only by refraining from irresponsible actions?

Is it conceivable to lock ourselves up in a workshop with no other aim than to have fun making the ultimate piece that will at best serve to pass on a craft that has become anecdotal? Can I allow myself to be part of this? Wouldn't it be too selfish? Instead of obsessing about art mechanics since I was eight years old, shouldn't I have gone into politics to try to change the world, or instead follow my explorer's instincts to discover the beauty of our planet and advocate for its preservation?

 

Instead of fighting that battle, I spent my life creating objects and mechanisms outside of Time, outside of the urgency to save the planet. And as I become aware that Time is running out, my only goal would be to condense all my research, gather my knowledge and concentrate my experience into just one creation. 

Shouldn't I have spent all this Time on more helpful research? Like finding ways to consume less energy or exploring new renewable sources! No, I stubbornly tried to achieve the highest degree of precision with a mechanical resonator when even the smallest electronic quartz oscillator guarantees a level of precision a hundred times greater than could ever be achieved with a mechanical movement. It may be madness, but it is madness that led me to create exceptional objects that are much more emotional and vibrant. It's what I like doing, what suits me, and that's why I go on.

 

A timepiece that will utilise every mechanical technology and technique, a timepiece that makes light of Time! As our world falls apart, I will seek to enclose our universe in a web of gears and levers. I clearly have contracted a virus from another time, the kind that relentlessly compels you to do and to create, whatever the difficulties or the price, without ever letting yourself be dictated to.

 

It is not certain that humans can save our world. For my part, I wouldn't know how to go about it. So, I might as well create something beautiful and unique, an object that will retrace some 800 years of mechanical research and development. A timepiece that respects the material and transcribes a vision of our universe.

 

A creation that will contain all the materials used in watchmaking and combine all the known techniques, from the file and chisel to the most advanced technologies. It will animate all the planets of the solar system as well as their main satellites, 71 celestial bodies in total. 

 

Date, solstice, equinox, equation of Time, world time, sunrise and sunset, tide… – it will comprise all these and many other complications. A timepiece that will set and arm a marine clock and do the same for a watch that itself will contain multiple complications. An ode to the art mechanics where no challenge will go unmet, where every complexity is mastered, where no mechanism will be forgotten, where the infinitely small will rub shoulders with the infinitely large, where the smallest pinion will have a diameter of less than half a millimetre and the largest wheel one of more than half a metre. An unprecedented creation.

 

My workshop lends itself to such a project. It has grown over the years, taking up more and more of a building place where now the smell of oil lingers, where the forge is ready to transcend the material, where machines for cutting stone, glass and metal are just waiting to be surprised by the difficulty of the task. Where files, pliers, hammers and drill chucks are lined up awaiting the hand's instructions. Where the design and programming software is just waiting for a direct connection to my brain, where the CNC machine is ready to receive its binary orders. It's going to be extraordinary; I know so because I've already begun, and I can only dream of one thing – to run to the workshop and take refuge in this cocoon where each tool has already spent hundreds of hours in my hands, where each material, each machine has its own vibration, its own smell, where the energies that surround me reassure me. It will all be coming together for the final project, beyond Time, beyond the human capacity for exhilaration – or despair. I also look forward to the sharing, to the joy of being with my friends, craftsmen and women who will help me make all the parts that require skills or technical knowledge I don't have.

 

No need to make the final drawing that explains the timepiece before it is proposed to a client, or even to sketch it out. Maybe just outlines for various parts, like modules of a space station, that will adjust themselves and fall into place on the object, in vivo so to speak. When the idea is so precise, there is no need to draw it out; its manifests itself clearly in our mind. It will evolve, remain fluid and metamorphose as my own perception of the project evolves. 

 

Each atom of the matter of a part will be in symbiosis with the universe it will represent. Each action will be analysed and critiqued to ensure that it ultimately makes perfect sense. Totally absorbed in work, caught up in the creation, you're dizzy with passion; each gesture seems to be the best and most efficient. It's a bit like having a light buzz; losing your inhibition feels like transcending yourself; words and actions seem incredibly intelligent. 

 

The thinking that happens before you get started in the workshop doesn't spare the action, which can get out of hand at any moment. That's why it is essential to take a step back every so often, to analyse and consider what to do next. Continue or start over... Do and undo. The final result is only a pretext; the goal is the journey. And that's what excites me; that and the emotion it will transmit if and when I finish it.

 

Denis Flageollet

Maitre-Horloger

Co-Founder of De Bethune