When we think about watchmaking, brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe and Jaeger LeCoultre come to mind. These brands have storied histories and huge workforces. Employees at large brands often specialize in one aspect of watchmaking, enabling the brand to excel on a large scale. This business model has worked for centuries, and should be celebrated. There is a different way of pursuing watchmaking that deserves attention as well, the independent watchmaker.
The Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI) is an international academy of independent watchmakers. These watchmakers often can be found working completely alone, or with a small team. whose driving force is that they are choosing their own path and exploring watchmaking in unique ways. The AHCI is a place for these watchmakers to come together, collaborate and support each other. Founded in 1985, the AHCI’s mission is to “perpetuate independent watch and clock making.” They do this by promoting independent watchmakers on a global level and attracting young watchmakers to consider working independently.
The AHCI is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2015. To commemorate the occasion a documentary by filmmaker Philip Selkirk is being released.
Selkirk is well-known for his documentaries focused on motor sports. Through the production of his films about the Mille Miglia, the Historic Grand Prix de Monaco as well as Maserati and others, Selkirk started seeing the strong crossover amongst car and watch collectors.
At his first visit to BaselWorld in 2013, Selkirk was immediately attracted to the AHCI, seeing the members as having “a certain turbulent genius… an attribute necessary to launch, move and revive something.” Selkirk decided to call the film “The Single Men” due to independent watchmakers’ tendency to work completely alone, or with a small team. They operate in the shadows of the big business, far from the klieg lights that shine on their name-brand competitors. It is a coalition of 32 watch- and clockmakers bound by a fierce commitment to artisanal watchmaking.
Philip Selkirk’s – time-less – documentary will lend a visual depiction of the watch-making process: the inception interwoven with craftsmanship, and finally unveiling the “pièce de résistance”.
The "Single Men" speak fervently of their common goal: ensuring that the mechanical watch continues to thrive. The documentary will feature some of the works of art made by the likes of Svend Andersen, Vincent Calabrese, Philippe Dufour, Paul Gerber, Vianney Halter and Francois-Paul Journe.
Interviews with these watchmaker visionaries as well as leading figures of the watch industry like Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer, will personify the individualist behind the timepiece, connecting the audience to their piece, as well as inspiring future watch collectors. Michael Clerizo, noted for his in-depth analysis of bespoke luxury watches for the Wall Street Journal, will be sharing thoughts and background knowledge with the viewer.
The long version of the film will premiere at the Tribeca Cinemas on May 18 hosted by HODINKEE and the Horological Society of New York.