Is it possible to take an already complicated watch and truly make it your own? Sure is, especially with the help of a horological master engineer.
Andreas Strehler has released a few technical variations of the Sauterelle over the years, however this timepiece has been thoughtfully adapted to allow the personality and experiences of it’s owner to be told through the different elements of the design and complications.
The horological features within this and any of his other creations are definitely more than simple watchmaking; but could be considered more like advanced technical engineering.
The first 3 words from the prologue of his “20 Years of Independent Watchmaking” book confirm that Andreas Strehler truly believes anything could be possible:
We actually could…..
Face & case
In previous versions of the Sauterelle, options for the case would generally be for that of red gold, or platinum, however the 41mm case of this unique piece has been manufactured in the very distinctive looking Damascus steel; reminiscent of a piece Andreas created for another famous watchmaker decades ago.
There are various similarities to other versions of the Sauterelle, however there are some distinct differences, thanks to the creativity of both Andreas and the owner expressing his life experiences, specifically two journeys.
The dial has been created using a block of solid silver, engine turned and blued later, with a guilloche design flowing out from the border lines of an embossed shell at 9 o’clock (on a traditionally read clock), which provides an exclusively different appearance. This shell represents the owner’s first journey, his pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago (the Way of St James).
There is a larger main dial to tell the time, which has been offset to the right and 2 smaller circular apertures break into the larger dial to become one visual focus. The centre of the large dial also contains a guilloche pattern, this time different and contrasting from the design of the shell based pattern, this time more floral looking. The hour marker is a sapphire ring, with visible markers for each minute. The numbers 12, 3, 6 and 9 are marked for the hours and the dials appear bright white on first glance, but are actually polished steel, making the time easy to read against the blue.
The top aperture sits between 10 and 11 o’clock, framing the remontoir d’égalité, which provides constant force to the mechanism and is the basis of spectacular precision within the piece. The delicate satellite arm can be seen moving behind three spokes at the beat of every second.
The bottom aperture positioned between 7 and 8 o’clock contains a three dimensional hemisphere of the globe. The route of the owner’s second journey can be seen on the globe – the Rallye Peking-Paris in 2007 (100th anniversary). The sapphire hour ring which hovers above the globe also shows the Day into Night line (during summer) on the globe.
It is worth noting that the shape of the movement follows very strict rules. The optimum positioning of the necessary movement parts, specifically the position of the two barrel houses dictates the position of the minute and hour hands, but also leaves space on the left of the movement for additional features.
The reverse of the watch is like a work of art. Almost the entire back is transparent so that the polished cogs and plates movement can be seen peeking through in as many places as possible.
The main feature on the back is the Andreas Strehler moonphase indication, which holds a Guinness World Record for being the most accurate moonphase ever created, with a deviation of only one day in over two million years!
Usually a moonphase can only be set at new moon or full moon, however the Sauterelle à Saint Jacques has its own moon age indication; a vernier scale which the owner can set or read the moon at any time. This indicator scale takes up almost the whole available space on the back of the movement and the maximum diameter within the Andreas Strehler Cocon case, but allows the age of the moon to be easily read or set, but most importantly, accurate to within 3 hours.
The frame and fixing points of the case back has been made from titanium, to provide the owner with higher comfort levels – this actually also reduces the weight of the watch too. Various engravings can be seen, such as Andreas Strehler and Sauterelle markings. There also appears to be a latitude and longitude, which I expect must have significance to the owner too; as well as the numerals “MMZVII” the standard usual Roman numeral for ten “X”, has been replaced with a “Z”, which is the first letter in the German word “zehn” (ten).
The crown is beautifully shaped and in the same bevelled finish as the other Sauterelles, big enough to make it easy to wind and set. When looking at the front of the crown, it appears concave and has an almost Victorian styled appearance, rather than just flat/domes and finished with the manufacturer’s stamp.
The movement was created in house personally by Andreas Strehler and modified to meet the owners wishes.
In order to add new functions (such as the moon indication), a unique central mainplate had to be created for the Sauterelle a Saint Jacques. So, in this case, not only does a unique piece define the aesthetics, but also that unique technical solutions were introduced to the movement too.
Beating at a frequency of 3 Hz / 21’600 A/h, the piece features 25 jewels and expect up to 78 hours once fully wound, the movement features a patented remontoir d’égalité, double main sprung barrel, moonphase and vernier scale.
Andreas Strehler Sauterelle a Saint Jacques Profile & Crown
Made from hand stitched black alligator leather and finished with white on the inside, the strap features quick release fitting bars, should the owner wish to change the strap.
Fitting is by way of a traditional buckle and pin and has a fairly unique shape too, being bigger and more extravagant than most.
Did you know that Andreas Strehler is responsible for the concept and designs of movements for many of the worlds most exclusive brands?
We may never know all of them, as partnerships and working agreements are kept under tight wraps, however we do know that Chronoswiss, Harry Winston, H.Moser & Cie, Lehman Schramberg, Maîtres du Temps, Maurice Lacroix and Vogard are a few brands that have actually released information on collaborations.
Andreas Strehler was the youngest candidate to join the The Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (Horological Academy of Independant Creators).
He also has a number of horological patents and patents pending.
Not only is the Sauterelle a Saint Jacques a great looking watch, but it’s a technical masterpiece and I think it’s great that the owner has been able to tell his story in such a wonderful way.
The watch feels very light on the wrist and comfort levels are high, barely noticing it’s actually on my wrist and for the amount complexity in the movement, it is still relatively thin.
Given the opportunity to design my own piece by Andreas Strehler, I would possibly have chosen things slightly differently, however I have a very different life story and everyone has different tastes. I do 100% appreciate the design and aesthetics of this very personal piece and guarantee that anyone that gets the opportunity to see it will appreciate not only how it looks, but the life stories behind the owner’s creation.
This Sauterelle a Saint Jacques is a unique piece, as probably are all of Andreas Strehler’s watches in a way, as only 10 pieces are made by his hand each year.
Standard versions of Andreas Strehler pieces range from between 56,000 CHF to well over 200,000 CHF for the platinum tourbillon, so it is likely that the lucky owner of this unique piece would be at the upper end of the scale, however I am told, less expensive than the upper end mentioned and therefor it could easily be argued that this level of bespoke is well worth the money.
I would like to close by saying that I am truly honoured to be given the opportunity to write about the Sauterelle a Saint Jacques and would personally like to thank the owner for allowing me tell the world about it.