For over 20 years, Christophe Claret has been a key figure in the world of highly complicated watchmaking. Having designed and created some of the most memorable and complex movements for numerous watch brands, the man has certainly built a reputation for himself and his eponymous manufacture. It wasn’t until the past few years however that Christophe Claret decided to create his own line of watches. But in that short time Claret has garnered a reputation for coming out with never-before-seen and often gamesome complications like the 21 Blackjack or more recent Poker, as well as more technical accomplishments like the X-TREM-1 (I gave a quick review of the Only Watch 2013 pinball-inspired edition here) or the chiming Kantharos chronograph from last year.


Of course, having created some the most astonishing movements for what we could consider some of the greatest watches of our times has definitely helped Claret’s manufacture become an industry leader in the conception and manufacturing of extraordinary haute horlogerie movements there ever were.

The Claret manufacture is located in the watch hub of Le Locle in the Neuchâtel area, home to some of the most important watch manufactures in Swiss watchmaking lore. The current manufacture first opened its doors in 2000, when Claret acquired a manor house known as Le Manoir du Soleil d’Or (The Manor of the Golden Sun), originally built by legendary Danish watchmaker Urban Jürgensen for his granddaughter. There’s a certain paradox in that such a historic building would houses one of the most avant-garde manufactures within the industry.


Christophe Claret, who has a passion for castles and all things of antiquity, has gone to great lengths to preserve the heritage of the manor while expanding it and integrating it with the newer production facilities built on its terrain. As soon as I entered the manor I felt transposed to another time, greeted by wood panels and wall tapestries from centuries past.



Entering one of the production departments however I saw another more playful side of the Claret manufacture, with this antique gumball slot machine.


What you have to keep in mind about Christophe Claret’s manufacture is that from the onset he had set out to create one of the most vertically integrated manufactures possible to cater to the world of high-complications and achieve the impossible in watchmaking.

This of course couldn’t have been possible without heavily investing in the most cutting-edge manufacturing machinery. Not just movement parts, Claret’s manufacture is able to produce entire cases, dials and even cut sapphire crystals; something only a handful of manufacturers can achieve. In fact, Claret’s collaborations with machinery suppliers have led to developments so great that they would later be adopted by the likes of Patek Philippe and even Rolex.

Even processes like electro-plating (which gives movements and components their coated colour) that are usually subcontracted to outside specialists are done at the manufacture’s own “galvanoplastie” laboratory.


But machinery can only get you so far. Claret puts a big emphasis on overall finish and superlative quality, and the decorations department shows the extent of this. Everything from angling and polishing edges of components to circular grained “perlage” and “côtes-de-Geneve” stripes are manually applied by some of the most skilled hands you’ll find in the industry.

One aspect that I found fascinating during my visit was that there was no “prototyping” department. Given the extensive know-how the manufacture has acquired from creating some of the most complicated watch movements there ever were, the Claret manufacture are able to from conception and design straight to production, with the first movement worked on and assembled essentially becoming the first movement in a final watch.



I’d like to thank Christophe Claret and his team for the warm welcome and taking the time to conduct the tour of his awe-inspiring manufacturing himself.

Stay tuned for my video interview of the man coming online very soon!

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