The Krayon Everywhere, the Universal Poetry of the Sun's Movements
A device for calculating sunrise and sunset times... wherever you are in the world. This unprecedented complication, the work of Rémi Maillat, founder of the Krayon movement design engineering studio, is a study in existential poetry.
Like all of the most successful achievements in the age-old world of watchmaking complications, the Everywhere timepiece will surprise you for its ultra-legible display.
Simplicity, the ultimate complication
To the master watchmaker's way of thinking, the challenge of translating the complexity of a construction based on intuitive logic is but one of the many challenges inherent in the complication itself. A kind of Rubik's cube, which, in a bid to relieve the player's torment, dons a colourful skin capable of blending in, chameleon-like, with its surroundings. Rémi Maillat's invention thus, at first glance, displays two durations, that of the daylight hours remaining and that of the hours of darkness yet to unfold before the new day dawns, each depicted in a different colour.
Easy enough, you might say. And yet, this simple definition conceals all the complexities of a universal mechanical calculator and timekeeping instrument composed of nearly 600 parts, hidden within a parallel zone following the bezel's circumference, a peripheral scale controlled by a disc alternating between dark blue and bright white depending on the hours in question. This unprecedented instrument is capable of indicating the moment of sunset and sunrise wherever you are in the world, whatever your latitude.
An integrated calibre invented entirely from scratch
Even in early 2018, as the last gasps of winter slowly transitioned to the warm breezes of spring, traditionally a busy time for the watchmaker, four customers had already placed their orders. Remi Maillat confesses he is not able to make more than 5 or 6 a year. Here's why. The calibre is a fully integrated original design. In other words, it's not your average calibre, whose components, bottom plate and other vital organs appear to have been borrowed from mechanical movements already on the market. Remi Maillat has rebuilt everything from scratch. It's his profession, after all... in 2013 he founded his own watchmaking movement design engineering studio in Neuchâtel. "Integrated" in this case means that, however independent the functioning of the different functions, everything in this calibre overlaps. For example, a watch's usual functions, such as the hour, minutes or seconds normally occupy one level, with modules reserved for additional functions, such as complications, being staged in one or more additional layers, each slotting into the first. Not so here.
The very name of this watchmaking calibre possesses a disarming, yet functional simplicity. It makes no attempt at analogy with consecutive numbering, the traditional use of mysterious numerals steeped in sacred meaning complemented by equally enigmatic initials. It goes quite simply by the name of "Universal Sunrise & Sunset". Apart from being unique and totally integrated, the 6.50 mm-deep movement is contained within a diameter of just 35,40 mm, which means that the watch measures no more than 42 mm in total, an extraordinary size when you consider the wealth of information it is capable of providing: minutes indicated by a central hand, an arrow pointing to the 24 hour-scale, sunrise and sunset times indicated on the circumference by means of mobile discs, calendar at 6 o'clock, longitude and UTC time displayed at 12 o'clock, latitude at 9 o'clock and, finally, a function selector at 3.
595 components, including 85 jewels, thus conspire to make adjustment super-easy. Everything is made in-house, including the balance-spring. The frequency chosen for this calibre is 3 Hertz, i.e. 21,600 vibrations an hour, the perfect rate for those objects that like to spare their efforts to be able to go longer distances. Thanks to an automatic winding powered by the to-and-fro movements of a 22 K gold micro-rotor, its power reserve extends up to 72 hours. That's a total of three sunrises and three sunsets, should the watch find itself neglected for 3 days.
But is it useful? Well, it's certainly desirable
It would take a very particular kind of customer to be needing to know, with precision, the exact hour of sunrise or sunset, especially one who travels around the globe. But you'd be surprised. For one, there is the wearer with a fondness for organising sunset dinners. How would he know when to send out invitations, without such a calculator? How else could one know at what time the sun will set in June in such-and-such a place, other than with one's Everywhere? Clearly, accuracy is a serious business if you're one of those people who like to give dinners aboard their yacht.
But joking aside, the watch designed by Rémi Maillat, with its ability to indicate the hours of sunset and sunrise in any other city in the world, is extremely useful for those who conduct their business with nations whose religious rest practices and prayer times must be respected. And then, there's the Cartesian angle. To those who fail to see the utility of such a function, I would venture to reply that they should direct their grievances at the entire mechanical watchmaking industry! I would also recommend they take a brief trip through the fascinating history of Swiss watchmaking. Journey back to the time when Jules Audemars' inventions thought nothing of providing such indications on the reverse of a pocket watch, and when the most famously complicated calibres in the world, of the type especially found at Patek Philippe, readily featured these indications among their legendary complication achievements.
The hidden complications of the Everywhere
But the Krayon Everywhere possesses an additional charm. It conceals more than it tells or reveals. Thus it contains, within the depths of its micromechanical intricacies, the kind of sophisticated information, which other timepieces might prefer to announce with fanfare. Admittedly, it does not possess a second time zone and cannot therefore be truly considered a GMT watch. Nevertheless, the independently functioning universal calculator, compared to the "normal" indication of time, calculates the hours of sunrise and sunset at a different point on the globe from that of the wearer.
But there is another complication inherent in the particular function of this sunset/sunrise measurement instrument, and that is the equation of time. This famous watchmaking complication, which has its own dedicated indication on high-end watches, is used to display the difference between mean solar time and apparent true solar time. And the fact that the designer of the Everywhere felt it unnecessary to associate any dial marker with the extraordinary complication that lies hidden within its depths, is merely evidence of his supreme creative genius. Indeed, why detract from the core message of this remarkable ode to time, the sunrise/sunset function, with a few demonstrative affectations of style?
While the essence of the watchmaker's spirit appears to be focused in the heart of the Everywhere, a general sense of creativity, good measure and modest awareness pervades, even down to the choice of the name Krayon. Is it even a brand name? Couldn't it just as well have been named after some watchmaking genius or other already known to an intimate circle of high-calibre collectors, to those with a nose for sniffing out a talent before it breaks through? Would that not have sufficed? Maybe. Except that for Rémi Maillat, who still sees himself as merely the founder of a complicated movement design engineering studio, the reference to the humble pencil is, per se, highly creative. A simple object in itself, yet the product of a highly sophisticated process, the pencil beyond its primary functional use is also extremely useful in ancillary ways, such as securing an elegant up-do, or relieving a nail biter's stress. Plus, of course, it is the embodiment of aesthetic achievement.
The price? The Krayon Everywhere we had hands-on with featured a diamond-set bezel with each piece made to order. Our model was priced at $600,000 USD.
In a nutshell, Maillat is unorthodox, a true outsider in the watchmaking landscape. He's the man who decided to appear, not on the AHCI stand at Baselworld 2018, where he could have had an entire dome to himself, but on the third floor of the Hôtel ex-Ramada. To be honest, one of my finest encounters of 2018.
(Photography by Liam O’Donnell)