Cu29

Inaugural Piece

The founding piece of a Trilogy, an invitation to a journey transcending time: the quest for the essential

The Cu29 is the founding piece. The most essential timepiece of an ambitious trilogy. This creation introduces Alchemists’ identity codes and signature foundations. It represents Hervé Schlüchter’s masterpiece, following traditional horological art’s most demanding savoir-faire and methods.

The Cu29 is a contemporary artistic interpretation of traditional and cultural heritage. It all started on a blank canvas.

The design inspirations of the Cu29 are strongly guided by the end of the 19th century watchmaking and by biodesign. The movement and the case design came from the mind of a creative Master watchmaker. When he started drawing it, he had but one objective: create the perfect blend between watchmaking traditions and their contemporary interpretations.

The Cu29 Inaugural introduces a new, innovative and proprietary horological alloy: Cuprum 479 – an eternal copper.

Cuprum 479 – the Alchemists’ eternal copper.

Alchemists’ original quest to find a pure and stable horological material led them to the development of their own eternal copper. Its inspiration comes from the set of cultural use and beliefs associated with copper across millennia of history.

This new gold and copper alloy is gifted with surprising properties: it does not require any surface treatment and its natural stability allows it to subtract itself from all galvanizing processes.

Its color also bears a unique warmth with distinctive red tones.

Cuprum 479 is a pure, noble and immortal material. Perfectly adapted to all watchmaking applications, it can be machined to the smallest tolerances before being polished and finished by hand, following traditional horological art’s most demanding methods. This eternal copper will make watchmakers’ joy when working on the restauration of Alchemists timepieces, even centuries from now.

The Cu29 features a pure and elegant hybrid case, realized from of a truly complex design: an “atmosphere” sapphire crystal.

A complex design for an unparalleled view of a marvelous mechanical landscape.

Alchemists took a challenging path in the conception of this hybrid case. Despite the difficulties, no compromises were made for the final object to be loyal to the creative concept.

Considered the most complex (non-mechanical) component of the timepiece, the crystal bears a singular shape.

The base of this atmosphere glass has a smaller diameter than that of its outside edge, meaning that the glass’ diameter and thickness gradually expand from the base until it takes on an atmospherical curve at its apex—exactly like the earth’s atmosphere, from whence it gets its name.

The crown tube is directly integrated in the crystal, contrary to traditional case conception, part of the complexity of this atypical design.

The hybrid case is Alchemists’ signature for the Trilogy of timepieces. In the Inaugural model, Alchemists chose to craft the case in Cuprum 479, thus placing the alloy in direct contact with the wearer’s skin, drawing inspiration from cultural beliefs that being in proximity with copper can bear positive benefits for one’s dexterity.

Alchemists’ first, 100% in-house Manufacture movement with inverted architecture.

The Cu29 features Alchemists’ very first manufacture movement, part of the foundations of the project. Imagined as a modular base for the entire trilogy, this ambitious design features uncommon mechanical intricacies.

Alchemists’ first, 100% in-house Manufacture movement with inverted architecture.

The Cu29 features Alchemists’ very first manufacture movement, part of the foundations of the project. Imagined as a modular base for the entire trilogy, this ambitious design features uncommon mechanical intricacies.

An atypical architecture, inspired from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

According to tradition, the Cu29 is built around the notions of volume and symmetry. However, the atypical construction of the case led to a complete reversal of the movement’s architecture. The movement’s architecture, composed of multiple levels and structures, is directly inspired from the Hanging Gardens of Babylon’s architecture.

The atmosphere crystal highlights all the different components, assemblies and the hand-decoration work on the movement. An aerial design where everything seems suspended.

The movement is composed of many singular assemblies, inspired by watchmaking history and traditions, offering their contemporary interpretations.

The Double Barrels, a tribute to Sir George Daniels.

The Cu29 movement’s energy is transmitted through the double barrels mounted in parallel. While being a tribute to the work of a great watchmaker, this choice does not come without a technical purpose. Splitting the energy between the two barrels allows to attain a greater stability in its distribution, each of the two springs giving a stable and linear torque.

This is part of how the Cu29 is able to offer a power reserve of 72 chronometric hours.

A complex and rare regulating organ with a cylindrical hairspring.

The movement is equipped with a variable inertia balance with weight screws and a blued cylindrical hairspring, tribute to ancient Marine chronometers which once represented the apogee of horological precision. The regulating organ is maintained by the hairspring’s stud on a titanium bridge, rounded-off and polished by hand. Its finish and curve make this bridge a spectacular piece in the Cu29’s mechanical landscape.

The cylindrical hairspring participates in the effect of volume of the creation and symbolizes a philosophical way of representing spiritual elevation.

An ingenious power reserve mechanism on a peripheral gear rack.

The power reserve is indicated by a cursor moving along a peripheral gear rack indexed from 0 to 72 hours. By definition, the display is made along a curve, and the display arm is suspended in a vacuum, reinforcing the lightness and the aerial aspect of the architecture.

An ingenious mechanism, not common in watchmaking as the peripheral rack’s movement is regulated by a differential gear, linked to two separate gear trains.

The complete assembly of the gear train and the atypical indirect small second.

The indirect small second is suspended above the barrels and completes the assembly. The elevation of the small second derogates to horological tradition and represented a technical challenge in the conception of the movement, the gears had to be conceived in such manner as to remove potential play between them in the elevation.

The intermediate wheel allowing the display of hours and minutes on the dial connects to the dial train and thrones majestically on the back of the movement.

The Double Barrels, a tribute to Sir George Daniels.

The Cu29 movement’s energy is transmitted through the double barrels mounted in parallel. While being a tribute to the work of a great watchmaker, this choice does not come without a technical purpose. Splitting the energy between the two barrels allows to attain a greater stability in its distribution, each of the two springs giving a stable and linear torque.

This is part of how the Cu29 is able to offer a power reserve of 72 chronometric hours.

A complex and rare regulating organ with a cylindrical hairspring.

The movement is equipped with a variable inertia balance with weight screws and a blued cylindrical hairspring, tribute to ancient Marine chronometers which once represented the apogee of horological precision. The regulating organ is maintained by the hairspring’s stud on a titanium bridge, rounded-off and polished by hand. Its finish and curve make this bridge a spectacular piece in the Cu29’s mechanical landscape.

The cylindrical hairspring participates in the effect of volume of the creation and symbolizes a philosophical way of representing spiritual elevation.

An ingenious power reserve mechanism on a peripheral gear rack.

The power reserve is indicated by a cursor moving along a peripheral gear rack indexed from 0 to 72 hours. By definition, the display is made along a curve, and the display arm is suspended in a vacuum, reinforcing the lightness and the aerial aspect of the architecture.

An ingenious mechanism, not common in watchmaking as the peripheral rack’s movement is regulated by a differential gear, linked to two separate gear trains.

The complete assembly of the gear train and the atypical indirect small second.

The indirect small second is suspended above the barrels and completes the assembly. The elevation of the small second derogates to horological tradition and represented a technical challenge in the conception of the movement, the gears had to be conceived in such manner as to remove potential play between them in the elevation.

The intermediate wheel allowing the display of hours and minutes on the dial connects to the dial train and thrones majestically on the back of the movement.

The emotion of a traditional pocket watch.

In the Cu29, the symmetry of the double barrel at 6 o’clock offers a totally unique visual spectacle during the winding process, which allows you to see each spring of the suspended moustache-shaped pawls wind with each click of the ratchet until the timepiece is fully wound.

Alchemists also invested a lot of attention and effort into the movement’s acoustic. Its winding ritual. All the components were designed to offer a sensitive experience, comparable to the emotion felt when winding a traditional pocket watch.

A manufacture movement crafted from Cuprum 479.

Usually, the ébauches (base plates and bridges) are made from brass or nickel silver. Cuprum 479 being a gold and copper alloy, it is thus more prestigious and more noble. It is largely present in the movement: in the base plate, shield-shaped bridges and dials’ bases.

The entire calibre and case are hand finished and hand decorated, all pieces of the Cu29 thus receive an authentic added value from the watchmaker’s hands and Alchemists concedes no compromises on the quality of traditional horological art finishing.

A reflection on beauty, passing through the gesture.

Creation according to the Alchemists – it really is about “creation” and not “fabrication”, despite being a watchmaking workshop – is a process where each step means evolution and transformation.

The idea is born on paper. The original sketch is always made by hand. With Alchemists, everything revolves around the hand at each and every step of creation. Switching from a traditional, manually operated machine to a polishing tool, always in the same hand, each component “ascends” and is sublimed by the hand.

Picture of the Alchemists watchmakers in Villa Jolimont
What if the Alchemists’ vocation was to humbly contribute to the preservation of a watchmaking heritage? Perpetuating its savoir-faire and teachings through their creations? Alchemists’ watchmakers are invested every day to preserve this heritage. They are committed to safeguarding and cultivating this savoir-faire in a rare working environment. A concrete application.

Because it is impossible to reproduce the exact same gesture twice, each timepiece is a unique and eternal creation.

Perceiving the beauty of these minuscule pieces, invisible once the movement assembled. Witnessing the precision under which they were shaped, polished and sublimed. Both are necessary steps to understand the hidden philosophy behind the Alchemists.

From the smallest to the largest components, each is gifted with an emotional charge. They require no less than absolute precision at every step of the process. The components, down to the smallest screws, are hand-finished, whether being visible or not, without compromises.

Each movement is assembled twice, nothing is left to chance.

There is no decoration workshop nor watchmakers dedicated solely to timing at Alchemists: each watchmaker receives all the “blank” components constituting the timepiece on his workbench.

He assembles the movement a first time to verify than everything functions perfectly as it should, allowing him to perform the mechanical preparation by hand, following traditional methods – the pivots are traditionally rolled on a lathe roller and the polishing of the pinions’ leaves is made with wooden wheels mounted on a specific machine, among other techniques. Then, the movement is entirely disassembled.

Each individual component is then very meticulously hand-finished and hand-decorated before the movement is ready to be assembled again, and fine-tuned for the final control.

Each and every creation of the Alchemists will be the child of a single individual watchmaker, from its assembly and adjusting to its most detailed hand-finishing.

The skill level and passion required from each watchmaker of the Alchemists is particularly high. Only very few craftsmen in Switzerland are still capable of assembling, hand-finishing and fine tuning each of his creations by himself. As it was done at the end of the 19th century.

Dials conceived as art works.

The creation of the Cu29 requires peculiar savoir-faire. Such is the case for dials crafted from natural gemstones or aventurine, cut and rounded by hand. An extraordinary craftsman’s work requiring extreme precision when working with these gemstones, which are then pad-printed and installed on a Cuprum 479 base. The dials assembly naturally preserves the beauty and purity of the stone.

Dials made in ‘Grand Feu’ enamel are also highly delicate to craft, not only do they require a very specialized skillset but also a metal base allowing its formation. Enamel dials usually can only be formed on copper or gold bases, however after several months of development, the Alchemists succeeded in the creation of ‘Grand Feu’ enamel on a Cuprum 479 base, a new pledge of the purity and quality of this new alloy.

Cu29,
Inaugural Model

The traditional methods on which Alchemists timepieces’ creation is based are not compatible with an industrial process. This approach to production as well as Alchemists’ watchmaking philosophy make their creations very limited. Each timepiece coming from the Alchemists’ workshop will therefore be very exclusive and bearing a will to perpetuate ancestral savoir-faire.

Choosing a timepiece created by the Alchemists is encouraging a return to the essential, a quest for perfection and ultimately betting on human genius. It is also knowing that the timepiece we wear is unique because it is impossible to repeat the same gesture twice. Wanting to wear beauty while wishing good things for yourself, and also accepting that certain truths will remain intimately hidden.

Cu29 Creative Act II

Alchemists’ first manufacture movement reveals its mechanical power through a new creation.
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