About a year ago I published an in depth article about an incredible Ukrainian watchmaker called Valerii Danevych. I wrote an editorial featuring his extraordinary Retrograde watch. Unbelievably every element of this timepiece is constructed from wood including the flying tourbillon carriage. It also took him over seven months of labour intensive work to complete this monumental achievement. As well as this superb creation he has produced four other watches (entirely made from wood) called the Premiere (male), Forest Story (pocket watch) Pearl of Forest (Necklace watch) and Nostalgia (Ladies). It is pertinent to mention that he also manufactures a beautiful range of hand made clocks.
Since I last communicated with Valerii Danevych he has become a member of the prestigious Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (or AHCI for short). I have featured several members from this exclusive group already including Marc Jenni, Aaron Becsei, Konstantin Chaykin, Thomas Prescher, John McGonigle and Felix Baumgartner. Ultimately this organisation celebrates exceptionally high craftsmanship within the industry.
Although I absolutely love Valerii Danevych’s Retrograde watch it has obvious commercial drawbacks. Firstly the price, which is close to $200,000 and the 1800 man-hours, it takes to complete. For that reason Valerii has designed three new watches called the Galleon, West India and Chillon Castle using off the shelf Swiss mechanical movements. Each of the models has its own unique merits but my personal favourite is wonderful Chillon Castle. Dimensionally the timepiece is a slightly smaller than the Retrograde measuring 44mm x 14mm. These proportions are large enough to make a bold statement without being too overbearing. As the case is constructed completely from wood I suspect it would feel very comfortable and lightweight to wear. However it won’t be anywhere near as durable as steel, titanium, ceramic or carbon.
Visually the Chillon Castle is unlike any other watch I have ever seen. What makes this timepiece so magnificent is the intricate dial, which illustrates the Swiss Castle Chillon at Lake of Geneva. This sublime feature displays the finest marquetry techniques, is fabricated out of six different types of wood and contains 250 individual pieces. I absolutely love the hands that are created from Mammoth tusks with Mother of Pearl inlays. Other sensational details include the wooden crown and intricate case side carvings. Overall the composition is delightful and the level of craftsmanship first rate.
In contrast to the Retrograde, Valerii Danevych has opted to use a reliable Unitas ETA 6498-1 calibre to power the watch. This manual winding movement comprises 17-jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour. The mechanism has been customized with decorative wood inlays and is visible through the sapphire crystal exhibition case back. Functionally the Chillon Castle features hours, minutes and seconds. The watch also has a power reserve of approximately 38 hours.
The Chillon Castle has a high quality black leather strap with stainless steel buckle. Priced for the connoisseur at: 14,950 EUR (approximately $20,341).