Tuesday, August 1, 2017
So what is your dream?
This week I've learnt my second French word. It only took 26 hours to figure out its English translation and its true meaning.
It all started when I asked my Swiss host to put me in touch with a specialist watch dial maker who may be interested in producing a batch of dials for the next rebelde project. Without any hesitation, he loudly and proudly proclaimed: "Schansaintsheer" or something that sounded like that.
"Sorry, I've missed that. John Sheer? Jean who?"
"Schan - Saint - Sheer" he replied. "You must see him".
"Where is he located?"
"Here, in La Chaux-de-Fonds; we've past his factory earlier today. If you like, I'll take you there tomorrow."
"So you actually know the guy?" I’ve asked naively; realising instantly that that was a silly question, since everyone knows everyone in LCF.
That night I started googling 'dial makers LCF' but without much luck. How frustrating…I still couldn't work out even the dial-maker’s name.
The next day we spent most of the afternoon inspecting piles of used watch machinery so both of us forgot about the dial. But later, at dinner, I asked again:
"Hey, about the dials, what is the maker's name?"
"The one you've mentioned yesterday; the one with the unpronounceable French name."
"Schansaintsheer? Ha, you must see him. You don't know who he is? How come you don't know him when you’re a watchmaker? Surely you have seen his dials," poked my host.
"If you would only speak clearly, and in English perhaps, then I would know who the hell is Schansaintsheer or whatever his name is."
"Schan - Saint – Sheer. He is famous; he made dials for Rolex and Omega in the 1960s and 70s, and many other Swiss brands. He is really, really famous."
"Well, what I know for certain is this: all Rolex vintage dials ware made by SINGER, not your guy", I’ve said in frustration. After all, this was no longer about dials, but my own reputation.
"Bravo - that's him! But in French we say SIN-SHER; Jean Sin-sher"
"Jean Singer and Cie SA is your guy? The most famous dial maker of all times? You seriously want to take me to their factory? You seriously think SINGER would take an order for 200 dials from the smallest watch brand in the world??"
"Of course, if you pay and wait they will do it. It is sinher; they are the best."
A few days later in Geneva, during the Watch Fair, I met Ms Claudia Henry, Assistante de Direction from Singer Manufacture de Cadrans Soignes.
Jean Singer firmly remains one of the last and the best independent dial manufacturers in Switzerland. The business was established in 1919 by Jean Singer and his wife. It started out in a small detached house at number 32, rue des Crêtets in La Chaux-de-Fonds, and stands on the same site today. Currently, the firm employs 250 dial-maker specialists and still supplies cadrans to the most famous Swiss watchmakers.
Would Singer be interested in taking a rebelde order?
Unfortunately, Ms Henry could not provide a definite answer. That would depend on a number of factors, of which two are potentially limiting: The batch volume and delivery time . A basic dial could cost around $500 per dial, plus setup and tooling costs. The precise amount can be calculated after a review of the technical drawings. Delivery time? Due to current production commitments I would be looking at 2 years' turnaround time, IF I can get a queue placement at all.
But…she didn't say NO, meaning that potentially, one day, a rebelde watch could have a Singer-made dial…
So what is your dream?