Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S02 ep17 : Thomas Prescher, Prescher Watches, [Switzerland]
Interview with Prescher Watches
By the time his atelier was founded, this predisposition á complication had already made him well known in collector's circles, with complicated antique watches by the likes of A. L Breguet, Thomas Earnshaw, Girard Perregaux, Adolf Lange, John Arnold, Patek Philippe, Urban Jurgensen, LeRoy, Thomas Mudge and Thomas Tompion arriving to Twann for restoration.
Prescher: It’s not enough just to be a good watch maker if you like to make these kind of watches.
I think that I’m more an artist than an engineer.
Prescher: I came to watch making during my youth, I used to work at a jewellers shop in my spare
time and that was my first contact with watches. But I still wanted to become a goldsmith. After
school I had to go to the armed forces and I decided to rest there a little bit longer than normal.
After six years I got an apprenticeship place at IWC in Chefaussen Switzerland. That was a perfect
base to do what I am now doing.
Prescher: And they gave me one of their pocket watches and I had to disassemble it.
Without knowing anything about watches?
Prescher: Yeah, exactly, they want to see how the fine feeling of your fingers is. And then the
master watch maker there asked me to assemble it again. Well I did it and it worked. And I said
well this is enough and they said no we have another little test and they gave me a wrist watch
automatic with date, well I disassembled but then I knew already what comes.
Prescher: School was outside in Soliturn and they gave me everything I needed to become a really
good watch maker.
The watches you make today are totally made by yourself from the start?
Prescher: Not at all because I started like this, I did it with the pocket watches, are still made
completely by hand but as we are doing now a series which are ten in a year to 30 a year, we have
started to buy also things and to finish them to our wishes. So we get the rough material, we finish
it. But for the future we are planning to get more and more and more independent as things are
running well now we are able to buy the necessary machines also.
Prescher: Independence, it’s like a verus in your head, and once you have this verus it doesn’t
leave your head.
And what did you do in the following five years before you started your own independent
Prescher: I went to Audemar Piguet in Germany there’s a service centre, a big service centre and
then I changed to Guberlin in Lucerne in the central workshop there. There I restored for two years
very old and very complicated watches. I had the pleasure to restore a Breguet tourbillion, an
original one and after two years I started to work with Mr Donas and he teach me how to make
watches work. A watch maker should know everything, but he has to learn how to put the things
together and at the end it’s a hand made piece.
Prescher: My idea is a watch should be perfect, that means you should not need to use a manual,
you cannot break it, everything should be simple and I’ve changed also the direction of the moving
of the wings or hands, because I think the motion from the bottom to the top is necessary it’s a
positive, it’s uprising motion so I reworked the concept, the mechanics, everything and I made the
prototype. On parallel I had the idea to realise multiple axis tourbillion, this was already in
Automapige I did my mastership certification and I had a working double axis tourbillion as a
table clock, I asked for a certification as a master there and they said you have to disassemble this
and to assemble this at the final test of the certification and you will not reach the target because
the time is not long enough so we have to refuse it. So that’s why I have made it at Automapige but
I still have this piece. I showed it to some people and they said wonderful and then I said, must be
in a portable in a watch.
Prescher: Because it is difficult to make I said well let’s try first in a pocket watch and I did it, it
worked perfectly and then I was presenting this year, the first year, the Falcon and the double axis
tourbillion, and I learned something, the real world is not waiting for pocket watches and they
asked me can you make this in a wrist watch, and I said yes I can and then they ask, by the way, we
want the third axis as well and I said well I’ll try it. Then next year I had already the wrist watch
triple axis tourbillion.
Prescher: And I wanted to fly tourbillion and I thought it should not be only flying by definition, it
should also be flying by aesthetics and so we created this holding arm which is transporting the
force to the tourbillion so there’s nothing more which is disturbing the aesthetics you have just the
tiny arm which is holding the whole mechanism. So this is totally new. Normal tourbillions or all
other tourbillions transport the force by two wheels and not by an axis and we use a constant force
into the carriage and this is absolutely necessary for multiple axis tourbillion if you want to use the
proper materials for the tourbillion because you need to get the impulse the speed to the balance
wheel and you can’t if you have a complex mechanism which is for a watch, relatively heavy. So
we have the force is safe in the constant force mechanism and the rest of the gear is following
slowly, but the constant force mechanism is giving the force every time in the correct portion to
the balance wheel.
Prescher: It’s a very hard business, it’s definitely not enough to be a good watch maker. The
problem is that suppliers, especially case makers, dial makers and hand makers are busy and if you
order today sometimes you have to wait for nine months to get the stuff and so we have decided to
get more and more independent, you have seen my watches and we have started to do the dials on
our own we’ve found new ways to produce them. For sure we have some dials which are in
materials which we cannot do ourselves but we try to be as independent as possible.
Prescher: The things we do is a mixture between old techniques like polishing on the zinc block
and hand engraving and also making components in the highest precision with laser measuring and
things like this you know. If you want to produce beyond the limit, you have to think about what is
the best for this to reach its target and this is always a mixture between the old techniques and the
Prescher: My career was like this, I was at Guberlin and after four years I decided to change and
so I worked for Progress Watch for a time and the last job before independence was managing the
production as a director at Blancpain.
Prescher: Customers who have enough money, they prefer something which is made specially for
you or small series, funny things or unique things perfection. They don’t want a brand and it’s also
what we learned they love it to wait, they’re not used to it and they love to have things which they
can buy only one, if you buy a brand, if you have the money, you buy ten, but if you take our
watches you can’t because we don’t produce enough for this and exclusivity doesn’t mean that you
just put diamonds on it or make a big marketing story around it. I think what the customer loves
also is the honesty behind the brand.
Prescher: The most funny situation is that I have in written form that it is impossible to make a
triple axis tourbillion run in a wrist watch, this is, I love this sheet of paper.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Thomas Prescher, Prescer Watches, Switzerland