Independent watchmaking holds a fascination even for those outside the business. Johan Sehlstedt of TTF Watchblog interviews young Swiss watchmaker Olivier Gantenbein, 20, who’s been working together with a friend on this horological timepiece called “Aspiration”
Johan Sehlstedt (JS): When did your interest in watches start?
Olivier Gantenbein(OG): I have worn a watch since I was about 10 years old. I can’t leave home without one. First I had a Flik Flak, then two Casios and when I was 15, I bought a TAG Heuer. My interest in watches increased when I gained a place at the watchmaking school ZeitZentrum in Grenchen, Switzerland, in 2009. Now I own an Eterna Soleure, Rolex Datejust & Submariner, ZeitZentrum Chronograph, TAG Heuer and of course my self-made watch – Aspiration.
JS: What has been the most demanding part of the process of making Aspiration?
OG: A friend of mine and I had to do a project at ZeitZentrum. It is a voluntary technical-school and the course takes four years, one day per week. We decided to make our own watch, because lots of people think a watchmaker always makes his own watches, but this isn’t always the case.
First things first: making a watch on your own needs skills, talent and courage. If you do such a big project for the first time, you need a plan. I made my watch with S. Deutschmann. We designed, planned and built our watch working on CAD (Computer Aided Design), to design the whole case and dial with the logo.
We have two designs – one sporty and one classy. It took five months of our free time, while we continued working at ZeitZentrum. We really enjoyed the challenge and we were always looking forward to our finished product – our own watch.
JS: How would you summarize the whole project?
OG: This was a special project and we learned a lot. We are very proud of the results and wanted to make sure that our two watches could represent us. This was also one of the reasons for the name we gave it – Aspiration. It means: longing, goal and endeavour.
JS: What inspires you in your work?
OG: I like to work with old and new watches. In my work as an apprentice, I have a great amount of responsibility. When fixing all sorts of different watches we can choose from a variety of resources – I love that about the job. Our watchmaker school is well equipped, so it is very nice when you know that you have the possibility and the ability to make watches work again.
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