We recently came across this amazing doublet of school watches made by Victor Monnin & Alexandre Hazemann with a fresh combination of a jumping hour automatic winding watch which strikes once every hour on the hour.
We reached out to Victor Monnin with a few questions, and here is his responses. Our commentary, as usual in italics.
Victor Monnin & Alexandre Hazemann – L’Immortale and AH.02
As we understand it, this is a school watch project by two friends. And the final submission to the school comprise of two watches. Both are the same, with decorative differences. Both piece unique, and both are currently NOT FOR SALE.
The watches – a school project piece by Victor Monnin & Alexandre Hazemann: the L’Immortale and AH.02
Both watches have a captivating look.
One of the watches, ascribed to Victor Monnin and christened as L’Immortale has partially open dial, and dressed in a green strap with a spot of green malachite insert on one of the three sub-dials. The sub-dials are not open worked, and appear to be made of metal in a two layered construction. It (curiously ) looks similar to the design style employed by F.P. Journe in his watches. The two smaller sub-dials, which indicate the minutes and continuous seconds overlap the main sub-dial showing the hours, and are attached to the movement plate with screws. The hour sub-dial carries the malachite insert.
The other has a fully open worked dial, and dressed with a blue strap. This version has a three minuscule, skeletonised sub-dials, accented in blue. The entire mechanism fully laid out to the view. We understand this to be the piece ascribed to Alaxandre Hazemann which he dubs the AH.02. The base plate are also carry small differences to the L’Immortale, but all the pivot points and key elements are exactly the same, and is indeed the same caliber.
The dial side on both watches show the mechanism, and features a strike mechanism and gong. It turns out that the L’Immortale is not only a jumping hour watch but one which strikes once every hour on the hour using the hammer and gong mechanism visible on the dial side. This is perhaps reminiscent of the Chopard L.U.C Strike One or the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk Striking Time, though these watches could not be more dis-similar in concept and execution. From a video which appeared on Victor’s IG account, the strike is loud, and sounds to be a full rich, crisp tone.
The base movement is from La Joux Perret with the complication made by Victor and Alexandre. The finishing from the photographs we received looks to be at the top level, but we reserve final judgement till we have had the opportunity to examine the watch.
From our interaction with Victor, and reviewing the photographs on both Victor’s and Alexandre’s IG accounts ( @ monnin_victor and @hazemann_watches), the future look incredibly bright for both of these youngsters, and we look forward to seeing more of their work. And as Alexandre now works at Emannuel Bouchet, whose watches we are familiar with, we should be seeing more of him there.
What made you decide to make this watch?
For the 7th year of watchmaking studies at the Edgar Faure high school in Morteau, we are asked to make a school watch in partnership with a watchmaking company. For our year 2021-2022 we have been supported by the brand Arnold & Son and the team of La Joux Perret to carry out this project. Since the first years of study, we were amazed by the last years making their watches on traditional machines, in contact with the most competent teachers like Mr Ducret (One of the best craftsman in France). It was a strength for us to go all the way and to be able to make this watch like our fellow watchmakers.
How and why did you team up with Hazemann?
Alexandre and I have always been friends and we have known each other since the beginning of this watchmaking adventure. With the years spent studying together we understood that teamwork was a strength in business, even indispensable. The school in Morteau trains us as independent watchmakers, who often have to work alone once their workshop is up and running.
A few months before the start of the project, we went for a walk in the Swiss mountains to recharge our batteries and draw inspiration from nature. During this walk we had a long discussion about the fact that in this decisive year of our schooling and our lives, we had to do some introspection in order to give the best of ourselves. We had such a similar philosophy and mindset as two brothers. Moreover, our skills complemented each other wonderfully, Alexandre has a great talent for watchmaking and the calculations that go with it. As for me, I manage more the project management and organisation as well as the machining of the components.
For our school, the last collaboration between two other students goes back to 20 years ago… this is quite rare because students prefer to get involved in the project alone. We did this of our own free will and without prior authorisation, we were convinced that the symbiosis of the two alchemies would work in spite of the dogmatic side of the school which inculcates in the pupil that Collaboration = cheating which is then a huge stupidity. In our professional world, collaboration is essential for creativity and development
What was the process of making the watch like? – How long did it take you?
The project took place from October 4, 2021 to June 10, 2022, a period equivalent to 8 months of intensive work. We started by making sketches which were refined over time. We already had to find a functional technical concept. We spent our evenings drawing on a big board and thinking of several technical solutions.
Every day we listed the problems to come and it is true that the first weeks are very difficult because the world of watchmaking is a huge world full of constraints. You have to know how to channel your energy and your ideas. We therefore decided to take matters into our own hands and contact the independent Swiss watchmakers who had welcomed us in their respective workshops in the previous months to carry out our training courses.
I am thinking directly of Julien Tixier (a watchmaker in the Vallée de Joux) who did not hesitate to give me her precious advice in the middle of the night. Watchmaking does not wait, it’s a wonderful play on words.
It is thus over 8 months and more than 1000 hours of work that we were able to realize the product in its entirety while passing by the sketches and drawings including the design of the watches (October November), the design on computer as well as calculations Horloger (December January), the manufacture of the components during 2-3 months (February March, April), the prototyping and the reliability of the product (1 month) April and finally to finish the decoration and the final assembly during the month of May in order to make the watch finished for the beginning of June.
I think it is important to take into account the intensity of this work. The pace was very fast (about 15 hours a day) 7 days a week with a series of sleepless nights in the workshop of the great watchmaker Emmanuel Bouchet who was extremely kind to open his doors to us for the end of the project
What do you think was the most difficult part of the project?
Our strength was organisation, but we pushed it to the limit with daily schedules and briefings at 6am (we were lucky enough to be living together for our last 3 years of study, which made it easier to work together). We had to be uncompromising about the tasks to be carried out each day based on the skills of each person in order to be as efficient as possible.
Once the components were made, the part that I found hardest was prototyping the product we had designed on the computer. Finding the problems and solving them one by one in order to obtain the most functional watch capable of keeping time with impeccable precision!
Thanks to Emmanuel Bouchet and his great experience on his work on the Opus 12 (Harry Winston) as well as Complication 1 (Emmanuel Bouchet) developed for his own brand, we were able to exchange ideas and thus understand and solve the problems.
We wanted to make a finished, decorated project, a watch that could be sold on the market. The school asked for a functional prototype movement, not a watch that would be portable and able to seduce a whole clientele of collectors.
We then manufactured the entire watch case in stainless steel on a traditional machine to accommodate the double complication movement. We had a bracelet made to measure in the Jean-Rousseau workshops as well as a sapphire crystal box made to measure in the Swiss Jura.
It must be understood in this adventure that we wanted to turn this school into a professional project, a springboard for our career. We therefore went looking for the most competent people in our little contact book to accompany us in the areas we did not yet master or little.
What are the characteristics of the watch?
Chiming Jump Hour
Power reserve : 50 hours
Caliber : LJP 6900 reworked
Lines : 14,8
Jewels : 31
Frequency : 28800 alt/h
Fully Manufactured Complication, Handcrafted, hand finishing, black polish screws…
Finish : Ruthenium anthracite movement
Case : Steel inox 316L
Sapphire glass : Custom glass box – made in Swiss
Case width : 42 mm
Case thickness : 12,8 mm
Water resistant : 30 m
Strap : Green/ Blue alligator 20 mm
How do you see the future?
The doors to the future are open to us now. The projects have been successful in the watch world, we have been contacted by hundreds of people from all over the world to purchase the watches. These are unique pieces that we will use for the rest of our lives to remember this incredible experience.
Alexandre is continuing his studies in a school in Switzerland to become a constructor in the field of watchmaking in the workshops of Emmanuel Bouchet.
As for me, I’m heading in a more artisanal watchmaking direction in order to become a prototypist watchmaker.
Afterwards, with the years of experience we will acquire with professionals, why not continue the adventure and open an independent watchmaking workshop with Alexandre Hazemann. The future will give us more information on this subject…