Every once in a while, I discover a connection that I never knew existed. It very well may be with a place that feels eerily comfortable or with an object that suits me perfectly. Perhaps I hear a melody that resonates inside my spirit unlike anything before. Whatever the instance, there are numerous connections that suddenly appear in my life and create a wider web of entanglements with the world around me.
They all leave enduring impressions, and some are even carried with me as a new integral piece of who I am. It’s one reason why I love discovering new things on a regular premise: as time goes by, more and more things come to be a vital part of the person I imagine myself to be.
But sometimes that connection is with a person, someone I’ve come into contact with or potentially never even met. What’s more, it can come from any direction, often astounding me once I discover the new connection. In this manner I develop a sense of family relationship with seemingly irregular people around the globe, and regardless of the type of affiliation I realize that I share something in common with the wider human population.
Philosophy tends to be a solid connector for me, as do values about relationships or how I interact with the society I live in. But some of the strongest connections I feel are with people that need to create something new and are interested about how things work and need to live in our current reality where their creative mind is actualized.
I have a philosophical and reasonable bond with people like that, and regardless of their situations on other themes clearly we agree on how we need to spend our time. This is the reason I would much rather hang out and get to know watchmakers instead of the celebrity ministers that represent brands. Even however creative mind is urgent in my brain, I’m not an entertainer or an athlete; I’m a maker at my core.
Which carries me to John-Mikaël Flaux , a watchmaker and machine designer I feel a philosophical bond with just from how he describes himself and why he creates. It doesn’t hurt that I love the mechanical marvels he builds, however it’s deeper than the result of his craftsmanship. He is a mechanically inquisitive person and his enthusiasm comes through in the objects he makes.
Let’s delve into what his identity is and talk about some of the increditastic machines that his psyche has cooked up.
Introducing John-Mikaël Flaux
John-Mikaël Flaux may not be a name you recognize from the start, yet you actually may have seen his work come across your Instagram feed. Flaux is a French watchmaker that began his six years of horological preparing at the Lycée Edgar Faure in Morteau. Upon graduation (and winning a medal in a French “best apprentice” competition), he was recruited by Ulysse Nardin in 2012.
Flaux immediately began chipping away at great complication pieces there, featuring that his expertise was already first rate. Inside two years he had already independently created his first machine, La Guêpe (“the wasp”), a check in the shape of the insect.
Due to his personal drive and creativity he became one of Ulysse Nardin’s true designers leading to the 2015 creation of the SuperCat (for sailboat) table clock, a unique piece concept clock that debuted at Baselworld in 2016.
Leaving Ulysse Nardin in 2017, barely short of a decade after establishing his own first workshop, Flaux set up a new atelier in Morteau in 2018 with the clear intention of becoming an independent watchmaker. Inside a year he had moved it to Besançon where he presently creates his automata and kinetic timekeepers.
In the two brief years following the establishing of Flaux’s independent workshop, he has already released four new projects, clarifying that he means business.
The first machine: the Car Clock
In 2018 he previously released his debut mobile time machine called the Car Clock, a combination of windup vehicle toy and top of the line mantel clock. Inspired by 1930s sports vehicles, the Car Clock is pretty appropriately named as it is literally a clock that moves like a car.
Using a finely finished clock mechanism where the engine would go, the Car Clock drives its wheels forward to show the passage of time. It has an eight-day power reserve so you better have a long table or shelf on the off chance that you plan to really use this clock. OK, it does come with a pedestal to take the rear driving wheels off the ground in the event that you need it to be fixed, yet it can thoroughly drive forward for eight days on its own.
It is twisted from the front also to how an old vehicle would need to be cranked. The steering wheel is in the cockpit, serving as the time-setting mechanism and the minute showcase. Once twisted, the steering wheel is rotated clockwise to advance the time. The position is indicated by a polished ball on the edge of the wheel that copies a Brodie handle (sometimes called suicide handle, necker, granny handle, knuckle buster, and wheel spinner) something often seen on antique vehicles or enormous apparatus steering wheels.
The ball is essentially the minute hand and can be read loosely the same way. The hours are indicated on the vehicle wheels with the numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 engraved on the wheel spokes with 12 specks around the edge for each hour. These are found on both the front and rear wheels and are read on the base where the wheel would meet the road.
The vehicle can move forward 13.2 mm every hour or an aggregate of just shy of 32 cm per day (12.5 inches). That means this vehicle can drive around 2.5 meters (eight feet) before needing rewinding, so you definitely need to keep it on the pedestal lest it drive itself to ruin.
The Car Clock is customizable for shading, making each one a unique piece and worked to order, with a lacquered aluminum body, leather upholstery, and a 270-component movement. When it was released it was available for €9,900, which is an incredible price for such a creation.
The next machine Flaux released was the robot called Le Duel. As its name suggests, this incredible ballet of components is a robot of two fencers dueling with blades. This was inspired by Eadweard Muybridge , who had taken a series of photographs of fencers (in the near buff) to demonstrate their moves and show how their bodies worked. Le Duel captures the essence of that duel and recreates it in the metal.
The machine, replete with a sum of 456 components, required 730 hours to complete. It winds by means of a large key that fits onto a twisting stem on the facade of the lodging. Flanked by two large gears, the hidden fountainhead drives a central gear that rotates these two gears in opposite directions, beginning the choreographed dance of the fencers.
To control the speed, a compressed air brake turns in the center of the primary body between the two, while the internal gearing drives two sets of cams that control the circumstance of the moves.
Thanks to different levers and a great deal of turn focuses, the figures lunge and repel with capes surging behind them, nearly all components assuming a basic part in controlling the movement and giving hinge focuses to what is essentially a machine composed of different four-bar mechanisms. The completing is simple however very clean, permitting appreciation of the figures’ dance and the craftsmanship of the machine itself.
Le Duel was a unique piece and definitely a pleasant invention from the brain of Flaux.
Time Fury P18
After Le Duel, Flaux returned to the mobile time concept in 2019 and developed a new clock based on a vehicle, this time inspired by Forumla 1 vehicles of the 1950s. Time Fury P18 (a creative name instead of a matter-of-reality description) is an entirely new clock mechanism that does away with the steering wheel and adds a time dial on the tail of the car.
The hours are on a truncated cone that rotates past an engraved minute dial where a little pointer below the hour number indicates five-minute imprints for an unpleasant reading of the time. Like how a Urwerk is read, the time show is substantially more practical than on Flaux’s earlier Car Clock model.
Time Fury P18 is as yet an eight-day clock that drives 32 cm per day on the off chance that it isn’t resting on its pedestal, however now the movement format is entirely different. This movement is flat and runs along the length of the vehicle where the other was vertically stacked in the engine sound leaving space for a passenger compartment. There is no seat on Time Fury P18, and time setting is accomplished by pivoting the rear wheels.
The clock is wound through a special wrench that inserts into the left exhaust tip under the rear cowl. The development method is like the first, yet this model feels more considered as a time object. Depending on your style, each vehicle inspired clock may suit your extravagant, yet this one is my pick for looks and functionality.
It is limited to 10 pieces and priced at €14,900.
With two mobile checks in the books, Flaux returned to the robot esthetic: this time an hour strike sonnerie tied to a cheetah machine. It centers around a mechanical cheetah that uses its front paws to follow and activate the hour chime, with the striking mechanism concealed inside the body of the cheetah.
The movements are a lot simpler than Le Duel, mostly because the objective isn’t to show a cheetah stumbling into the savannah yet to show a delicate movement pertinent to the striking mechanism. The 45-hour check mechanism is before the cheetah, where we discover the hour counter cam and the enactment snail cam. The correct front paw tallies the passing hours on the stepped hour cam, while the left front paw rides a long a smooth snail cam to charge the system over the hour.
Once released, the cam activates the hour strike mechanism in the body of the cheetah where we discover the hour rack that determines the number of strikes the hammer performs. The rear legs are tied to the striking mechanism, turning to and fro similar to the cheetah is running, yet significantly less common. The tail likewise permits the mechanism to strike the hours on demand.
On the rear side of the body is a large metal bell struck by a metal hammer for a very brilliant and noisy sound – no small gongs for this kitty. The frame of the mechanism has some little details to mirror the grass on the savannah, otherwise it is a negligible and beautifully finished assembly.
The time show is wound and set through a crown extending out from the dial, while the striking mechanism is wound utilizing a key on a large heart between the cheetah’s legs.
Behind the cheetah, concealing the bell, is a hand-painted panel depicting a brilliant celestial image, somewhat like the Milky Way in its grandeur. The craftsmanship was created by miniature painter Line Descombes and can be customized for each customer. Just five examples of Le Guépard will be made, with prices beginning at €30,000 and increasing with customization.
Inspiration and connection
Out of the entirety of the projects that Flaux has created, just Le Duel is a robot that does not show the time, showing that his true desire is to make machines that move while telling the time, a unique niche if there ever was one in the horological world.
La Guêpe, his first creation following school, isn’t a robot, yet a check in the shape of a wasp and is the solitary machine that doesn’t move. It is a harbinger of where Flaux would eventually go, the pieces falling together as time progressed.
And this carries me to the connection I feel with a maker that I have never met. He has mentioned in the past how as a kid he would take separated machines to see how they worked. In any case, most fundamentally he states that he hoped the machines shrouded a secret that would change him into a magician.
While he was often disappointed in what he found, an enthusiasm for creating objects that would appear supernatural like the robots he discovered when he was eight years old grew in him.
Learning watchmaking gave him the skillset to make machines bordering on wizardry, and this is where I connect to John-Mikaël Flaux. When I was first discovering watchmaking, I was additionally developing a real enthusiasm for science and furthermore science fiction and dream. I yearned to combine the functional abilities of watchmaking and engineering with things I had seen in movies or read in books that were essentially enchanted objects.
I used to say that I wanted to assemble objects that when previously experienced by the average person would seem like enchantment, and afterward upon closer examination could be understood and dissected as clever engineering and essential mechanical principles. Flaux clearly had a comparable impetus when he was younger, and that enthusiasm for mechanical sorcery has directed his entire career.
It likewise has created a sense of family relationship in myself. And keeping in mind that I haven’t met him yet, it seems clear we share probably some little understanding of how incredible mechanics can be. This is the reason his desire to make objects that move as a core work is so intriguing: it shows that the mundane doesn’t interest him. His interests are more energetic and very personal to him, and he seeks to share the wonder of his younger self in everything he makes.
John-Mikaël Flaux has created an awesome smattering of machines in a relatively brief timeframe. His sheer quality and creativity makes it clear that he won’t run out of ideas and enthusiasm anytime soon.
As an AHCI candidate Flaux will undoubtedly continue his way with the help of other creative independents – as long as he can weather the tempest of 2020.
For more data, please visit www.john-mikael-flaux.com .
Quick Facts Le Guépard
Base development: 30 x 10 x 10 cm in stainless steel and metal
Movement: manual winding Le Guépard movement 18,000 vph/2.5 Hz frequency, 45-hour power reserve
Capacities: hours, minutes, hour strike, sonnerie en passant
Constraint: 5 pieces, customization on request
Price: €30,000, customization extra
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