The Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants never fails to produce some gems. This year is no exception, in the persons of Masahiro Kikuno, a young Japanese watchmaker working exclusively by hand, and the Ukrainian Valerii Danevych, a specialist in watches made entirely from wood.

Ah, the joys of modernity! After contemplating the masterpieces of miniaturisation that line the aisles at Baselworld, and pondering the technology required to machine the infinitely tiny parts that bring them to life, it’s tempting to forget an earlier time when watches were crafted entirely by hand, using specialised tools as ingenious as the timepieces they ultimately produced. Fortunately, the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI) is there to remind us of these times immemorial, when horology was in the hands of master craftsmen whose knowledge was passed from generation to generation.

Living the dream

Masahiro Kikuno ranks among them. This young Japanese watchmaker (just 29 years old) already made an impression at last year’s Baselworld with his temporal hour watches (a mechanism that increases the space between moving index markers, programmed over one year for traditional Japanese units or wadokei, and displays civil time), and a tourbillon perpetual calendar using a completely remodelled ETA 6497 base calibre, the first to be made fully in Japan. This year, Kikuno raised the bar with his Tourbillon 2012, crafted entirely by hand – not a CNC machine in sight – and driven by a herringbone-finished calibre mk12 movement inside a 43mm case.

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