Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Dresden and the surrounding regions in Saxony such as Glashutte are hubs of watch making in Germany. Many popular watch brands, as well as unique independents hail from this region. One such unique player is Donald Corson, who produces finely hand-crafted timepieces in tune with the generations old tradition of watch making. He only makes 2-3 watches a year, and they are all specially made to order.
Donald Corson's most interesting timepiece in my opinion is Dresdener Regulator watch. A wonderful homage to the region, as well as a well-made timepiece with built-in German character. Aside from high technology cars and other modern instruments, few know that this region of Germany is known for their charming figurines and toys. It is an aspect of Germany that few outsiders are aware of, and it adds a distinct warmth to a culture that is not know for it.
I feel that the Dresdener Regulator watch has a degree of this fun and whimsical attitude, combined with the master work of a hand-crafted timepiece. The layout of the dial was inspired by a pocket watch made by Syffert in Dresden back in 1807. It used three equal sized dials, each with different style hands to tell them hour, minute, and seconds. This is the basic principle of a regulator style watch, but done differently here. Much of the watch's special character is in the design of the hands.
Some movement parts are base ETA, that Corson painstakingly decorates and reassembles to make suitable for the unique three-hand layout. The rest of the movement was design by Corson, and hand made and assembled to provide for the subdials. The movement is plated with ruthenium, that gives it that dark gray look, while Cotes de Geneve polishing is later applied. The gentle round curves of the bridges as well as the layout of the gears is almost artistic, while the exposed sapphire covered caseback provides the clear view.
At 39mm wide, the case is a solid size without being too large or too small. The final versions of the watch will be in 18k red gold. The dial is interesting being a combination of natural slate rock, as well as having Cotes de Geneve polished ruthenium plated metal on the outside framing the subdials.
You can visit the Donald Corson website (link above) to view more images of not only the Dresdener Regulator watch, but also images of the manufacturing process, and how a real "boutique" watch is made - a fascinating process that easily takes enough time for Corson's 2-3 watch a year output to sound reasonable. Working with watch makers like Donald Corson is an excellent want to have a truly unique watch, as well as a close connection with the individual making the watch. This adds an addition emotional layer to ownership that few large watch makers can replicate.
By Ariel Adams