The Vianney Halter Classic, by all descriptions is classic. Vianney Halter is more an eccentric artist with a strong bent on watchmaking than a adroit businessman. He is fun, boisterous, and irreverent. He has wild ideas to create crazy watches, and then he realizes those ideas. We adore his Deep Space. We loved the Antiqua. And admire the Goldpfeil. The Classic is not one of the wild, crazy ideas born in a bar. It is rather sober and (well) classic. A simple, three hand watch. Or so it seems.
Vianney Halter Classic
But it is his concept of watchmaking which also attracted us. A watchmaker is someone who makes watches in his atelier, “with his hands, with his heart and sometimes with his guts.” The Classic is one such timepiece which somehow looked like it had arrived from the 17th Century Jules Verne movie. Indeed Verne was the inspiration behind the watch.
The movement is a highly modified Lemania 8810, with double barrels, and an automatic winding system. The principal modification is in the visually stunning winding rotor, which mysteriously disappears. An eccentric weight is mounted on the periphery of a sapphire glass rotor, allowing it to swing around the pivot and wind the watch, while allowing full visual access to the entire movement bridges. Quite a nice system.
Incidentally the movement is finished very well. Nicely decorated. The fausses côtes are placed wide, and two rules are made, each overlapping the other about 30% of the way, creating a double slope in the bridges. Distinctive look and feel to separate it from the ubiquitious Côtes Geneve found in most other watches. We do note that this style of making the côtes is not used in all Classic watches. We have seen some examples with the regular widely spaced Côtes Geneve.
The dial is quite amazing as well. The attention to detail is quite staggering. The dial is almost 3 dimensional, with levels made by taking material out, and with each level given a different finsihing. A circular graining on the hour chapter, and a textured center of the dial. And the edges of the levels are anglaged and polished.
As another example, take the hands, these are cut on a CNC machine, then hand shaped with a distinct curve across the hand, and meticulously hand blued over a spirit flame till it achieves the brilliant blue. The tip of the hand is curved ever so slightly downwards to reduce parallax.
Screw studs hold the bezel in place. These are curved studs, and hand made in-house. The studs are reflected in the design of the crown, where 22 embedded studs are placed around the cylinder of the crown. Vianney insists this is to enable a good grip when winding the watch. But we think it just looks badass cool.
A total of 250 pieces in white gold, rose gold and yellow gold in various dial combinations were made before production stopped. The Vianney Halter Classic was shown in BaselWorld 2000, and first available for sale in 2001. Pieces are rarely, but sometimes available in the secondary market.
The watch featured is the property of a Gentleman Collector who is a close Deployant friend. Many thanks to him for the loan of his watch for photography.