Recently I have been inspired to write editorials featuring the immense talents of numerous independent watchmakers. Normally these exceptional ateliers are located in the heart of Switzerland adhering to age-old traditional techniques. Valerii Danevych is an exception to the rule. This amazing artisan is based in the capital of the Ukraine, Kiev, a place normally not associated with haute horlogerie. Another interesting fact is that he has got no formal training in watch design only an extensive knowledge of joinery.
Wooden wristwatches have been available on the market for quite a few years. One of the most popular brands is WeWood who produce a range of trendy affordable quartz watches. Valerii Danevych has devised and constructed the world’s first mechanical wristwatch entirely manufactured out of wood. Every element of these beautifully crafted timepieces is handmade including the incredible Retrograde.
The visual appearance is completely unique & unlike any other watch I’ve ever seen. Every case is engineered from the following materials, canker (apple-tree, plum-tree), Walnut, Birch, Australian Guaiacum, Crimea box, Bamboo and African Bubinga. All of these woods are hand selected for their unique colour and texture. Apparently 1800 hours of labour over a period of 7 months is involved in planning & production one of these sublime creations.
The Retrograde measures a respectable 46mm x 18mm which by today’s standards isn’t a massive watch. I would also imagine this timepiece is pretty comfortable to wear & probably fairy lightweight. The part skeletonised dial is well conceived displaying retrograde hours & minutes. I love the large aperture positioned at 6 O’clock showcasing the magnificent flying tourbillon. This piece really is a spectacular work of art.
Underneath the divine façade lies a highly complex movement comprising 188 parts. Unbelievably this highly intricate mechanism only contains four metal springs. To create an operational flying tourbillon watch out of wood is a monumental achievement. From recent conversations with Valerii he is very proud of the timepieces but stresses that it is not a practical option for everyday use. Wood is a wonderful material but isn’t anywhere near as robust or durable as metal. Ultimately this is an objet d’art worn on very special occasions.
The 150,000 EUR (approximately $196,000) price tag of the Retrograde reflects the time & shear craftmanship dedicated to each timepiece.