Ultimate Cars, Watches & Hi Fi S03 ep11 : Steven Holtzmann, Maitre du Temps Watches, [Switzerland]
Interview with Steven Holtzmann
Maîtres du Temps is not so much a new watch company as an entirely new horological concept. Founded by Mr. Steven Holtzman, it brings groups of master watchmakers together to develop exclusive timepieces.
MaitreTemps: MaitreTemps in English means masters of time and the concept with the brand was
to group different famous watchmakers together to create different calibres or chapters.
MaitreTemps: Normally watchmakers tend to be more introverted but our concept was to try to get
them to expand that thinking and to think outside of the box in the case of chapter one Kristoff
Cloray or Peter Speakmarin together, two well known watchmakers that both have their own
brands and asked them to work in a collaborative effort to make one movement. In the case of
chapter two, we worked with Daniel Roth and Peter Speakmarin. For chapter three we’re going to
be introducing Kerry Voltelyning and Andreas Strailer. They both won the Geneva Grand Prix for
MaitreTemps: Originally I started off as a salesman working for different watch brands and after
creating a number of successes for brands in the past my dream was to always create my own
MaitreTemps: In the late 90’s I worked with a brand called Roger Debuit and I had the opportunity
in about 2002 to sell my first watch for a million dollars and I thought my gosh when you, the
feeling you have when you sell a million dollar watch to someone and see the way they react was
you know pretty special. In 2006, 2007 I started my own brand and being that I’m not a
watchmaker I felt the best way to anchor into this industry would be to work with the well known
master watchmakers and put them together in teams.
MaitreTemps: In the 70’s with the introduction of the quartz technology a lot of the Swiss
companies were quite concerned that it would be the end of the industry for them but what actually
happened was the quartz watch business changed the complete scope and appreciation for the way
people look at watches and as a result now the appreciation for mechanical watches has increased
MaitreTemps: In Switzerland if you were a watchmaker in the 70’s a lot of people changed
professions and there has been for quite some time a very big shortage of watchmakers that can
work on complicated watches.
MaitreTemps: When I started the brand the first watchmaker I went to was Mr Dubuit, Roger
Dubuit and I had a great relationship from working together so the first watchmaker that kind of
helped us and held our hand throughout the process was Mr Dubuit and he came up with a lot of
the ideas and a lot of the original help with putting together the team. He introduced us to Mr
Cleray and Peter Speakmarin so from there we were able to kind of assemble the teams of masters.
MaitreTemps: Kristof’s a genius with complications and he has the great ability to be able to
execute a concept so when we worked with him originally we had the concept of the rolling bars
on our watches and he liked that idea and we asked him what he could do to create something with
these rolling bars so he was challenged with the idea, he came up with some interesting solutions
and he was quite fun. Peter on the other hand was very british and very direct and a pleasure to
work with, he held our hand in the beginning and with Mr Dubuit and kind of introduced us to all
the various types of products that we could actually end up with in our watches. When you put two
cooks in the kitchen or three cooks in the kitchen you end up with a pretty interesting dish and it’s
not something that either of them would have done on their own, it was a great opportunity to
really put a dream team together. The watch retails for just under a half a million Swiss retail so
it’s really in the top category for complicated watches.
MaitreTemps: With chapter two we worked with a company called Vochet which makes the
watches for Parmigani and Richard Neil and Vochet had made our watches in a serial production
so we were able to deliver you know a couple of hundred watches a year of chapter two and we
now have enough of a collection to be important in a store and really have a nice presentation.
MaitreTemps: Chapter two we brought in Daniel Roth. Mr Roth he’s very private, he started his
own brand you know over 20 years ago and had quite a bit of success but he’s really known for his
attention to detail, his, the finish on his products.
MaitreTemps: With chapter three for us it was the first time where we could make our own calibre
from scratch so we, Kerry Voltaline and designed a movement for us and a complication and was
able to put it together in a very classic watch. Kerry is considered I think probably the top of his
field in actually handwork and the finish of product. There was no ego in working with Kerry and
sometimes with the watchmakers it can be a little tricky so by working with Kerry and bringing
Andreas Strailer in who’s like a genius, the two of them together just bounced off of each other and
really, really created something fantastic.
MaitreTemps: Every year we introduce different chapters and different variations on the chapter
and with chapter four we go back up to you know the 300,000, 400,000 price point but with
chapter three we wanted to create a watch that was personal and we made the watch and after we
were done making the watch we made the decision to hide the complication so there’s a hidden
complication, the watch is called Reveal and with the press of a button, by pressing the crown, the
watch dial opens up and the complication becomes visible.
MaitreTemps: The original vision was that we would travel market to market and introduce the
watchmakers to the clients to the stores, to the so we had the opportunity to travel to Beijing and
Shanghai and Hong Kong, Singapore, Milan, Moscow. I remember being in Mexico City with
Daniel Roth and Daniel gave a little speech about MaitreTemps and shortly after the speech people
lined up just to get his autograph so tehre’s quite an appreciation for these watchmakers and
they’re considered gods in these local markets and quite often they don’t know that, you know
they’re in the mountains in Switzerland creating you know a technical little machine that has a
heartbeat that you wear on your wrist.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Steven Holtzmann, Maitre du Temps Watches, Switzerland