Steampunk is appropriate to describe the style of quite a few watches from Vianney and so is the ´Classic` collection, which seems to be inspired also by classic marine chronometers. The ´Classic Janvier Nr. 1 – Moon and Sun` was presented in 2008 in order to celebrate his ten years of independent creation. A limited series of 12 watches staging the time, running equation of time and moon cycle – encased in platinum, only.
The complications shown are challenging for any watchmaker (even big brands) and we don´t see them that often. Executed on the level like this is even more rare and one could get lost in the details – nothing looks like serial or even industrial production. The whole design approach is consistent, and we would change nothing because of this. It´s eclectic, but wonderful!
Side note: Once I (small-luxury-world) had the pleasure to attend a private dinner organized by collector friends and our guest for the night was Vianney. Once more, nothing beats the experience of meeting the people behind and to get some context from them. Still remember how it changed my view on the ´Deep Space`, a piece that didn´t speak to me before.
(Deep Space; tourbillon)
The lesson drawn from above ‘side note’ is that just appreciating a watch is not enough (although the Janvier Classic gives ample reason to do so…) – a watch has an origin and a history. It is the maker with his or her own experiences, interests and personal history. To understand a watch by Vianney Halter one needs to know a bit about (or at best talk to) the man himself. Vianney describes himself as someone who “tinkers around and does some watchmaking on the side”, which is a great understatement really. Vianney takes deep interest in aviation, immediately noticeable if one visits his workshop. It is not only confined to collecting, but also actively constructing, such as a joystick-operated landing gear control… Then, he collects vintage light bulbs and takes inspiration from science fiction.
With all that in mind, now look at his watches, and the Janvier Classic, again – you’ll soon recognise traces of the ample factual inputs everywhere – like pressure gauges, propellers, spaceships or even an orrery. All arranged however not in a comical superficial way, but strictly serving its respective function, on a central axis, with a ‘running’ equation of time (i.e. indicating ‘true’ solar time instead of the amount that has to be added to/subtracted from the minute hand) or a date indication that doubles as moon phase.
It is a most accomplished diminutive solar system on your wrist.
Lots of character, charm and personality is what you get, when you meet the person or handle his watches. It´s refreshing to see someone/-thing that doesn´t try to please everyone.
Conclusion: impressively complex under the hood – charmingly simple at first view: those watches are not for everyone – but who cares! They are pieces of art – art that also can be worn on the wrist – nothing more, nothing less, and those who know and are open-minded will discover…
For more details about the watch, we recommend Vianney Halter’s own archive: CLASSIC JANVIER – Vianney Halter.