Watchuseek Blog

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Labour of love: Vangarde Tempo Theory watch

'What is created without effort, is in general perceived without pleasure.'

This paraphrasing of Samuel Johnson’s well known quote aptly summarises the philosophy of French watchmaker Vangarde.

After two years of planning, countless designs, prototypes, trials, tests and difficult decisions, the eponymously named Vangarde is proud to present its first watch: the Tempo Theory, a limited edition with just eighty-eight numbered copies.

The creative idea behind the watch was to transform the conventional way of telling the time, with the hand pointing on a layered scale, in a complex and poetic architectural display.

Complex equation

Vangarde explains that the Tempo Theory draws the viewer into a complex equation involving the relationship between energy (the mainspring) movement (rotation around an axis) and shape (visual composition of the hands).

The hour and minute hands overlap, intersect and are juxtaposed, while the sub-dial hands complete the kinetic design making the overall effect even more complex.

All these combinations come together to form a moving work of art, set in motion by the mechanical energy of a spring. The stunning visual effect sparks curiosity, while the watch remains perfectly easy to read.

Calibre VI movement



With Tempo Theory, Vangarde's 29-jewel custom 'Calibre V1' movement is set within a black galvanised 316L steel case, shaped from a solid block, made up of a single casing with precision machined housing (no housing ring) with a bezel and a screwed base, both polished and fitted with O rings.

The case is then decorated with hand-wrought Côtes de Genève (damaskeening) patterning. The movement, with a 48 hour power reserve, is topped with a layer of gears before the final piece with its exposed aluminum alloy hands and time dial.

Vangarde’s aim was to create a watch which tempts its owner want to keep looking again and again, going beyond a mere time-piece to create an artistic composition created by the passage of time.

Kinetically engineered hands

The hands were a long and difficult process because they required not a static design like ordinary hands, but a kinetic design which would take into account their rotational movement, so that they would align in the most evocative way possible through the hundreds of permutations created by the design.

The superluminova was inserted inside the hands in a different configuration to make it easier to distinguish between hours and minutes. Once the design of the hands was complete, the next challenging task was to create a worthy 'backdrop' for them.

Skeleton dial

A complex, asymmetric skeleton dial was designed to fit the background formed by the calibre V1 and the kinetic patterns produced by the hands.

The positioning of the sub-dials breaks up the typical chronograph layout to produce a more balanced appearance. The development of the printed elements constituted a graphic design project in itself, with the subtle positioning of figures and text to produce a visually stunning overall effect.

316L stainless steel case


The dials are laser cut, galvanised, then finished in black with white print. Finally the whole is housed in a 316 L stainless steel case.

The sapphire crystals feature state of the art art anti-glare treatment to minimise unwanted reflection. The caseband has a brushed, satinised surface which contrasts beautifully with the crown and the push buttons which are polished and decorated in 'Clous de Paris' style.

Alligator skin strap

The bracelet is made in France from carefully selected Louisiana alligator skin, it is hand assembled and sewn, then fixed to the casing with stainless steel tubular fixings.

Vangarde values

Vangarde is an independent French designer of hand-crafted watches, aimed at connoisseurs of contemporary watch making looking for original and exclusive timepieces.

The watches are produced under the direct control of the Vangarde brand with a dozen Swiss watchmakers specialised in high-end limited edition watchmaking.

The watches are only available by direct order and are delivered by courier, with a money-back guarantee if the customer is not completely satisfied.

By selling directly and cutting out distributors, Vangarde are able to offer attractive prices despite the high costs associated with making a handmade product in limited quantities.


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