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Singer Reimagined, the shooting star

November 15 2017

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It took the risky encounter of three characters - Rob Dickinson, the boss of Singer Vehicle Design, Marco Borraccino the designer, and Jean-Marc Wiederrecht the watchmaker - to create a brand and a revolutionary movement. Now just out of the workshops, this reinvented chronograph is already selected for the Grand Prix of the Geneva Watchmaking. A tale of facts. - Isabelle Cerboneschi

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a meeting between the three characters at the origin of the watch brand Singer Reimagined is it chance, determinism, or something else? Listening to Rob Dickinson, the boss of Singer Vehicle Design, Marco Borraccino the designer, and Jean-Marc Wiederrecht the watchmaker designer, we feel that their meeting is the result of a great machination of the destiny that made them meet each other. a specific moment when their personal research converged.

To understand what is at stake, let's take a leap in time and place the cursor on the moment of their meeting.

Rob Dickinson and Marco Borracino meet in 2014. The first has two trades: singer and songwriter Catherine Wheel group, and "re-imagineur" of classic cars, with a weakness for the Porsche 911. From his fascination was born in 2009 Singer Vehicle Design, a company dedicated to rethink this model. How? By taking into account the car in its entirety and by questioning each of its constituent elements in order to reinvent them. It uses contemporary technologies and materials to rethink the engine, brakes, suspension, air conditioning, while respecting the spirit of the original model. «A way to celebrate the classic era of Porsche», notes Rob Dickinson, at the launch of the Singer Track 1 which was linked last June at Angenhor (Geneva Watchmaking Workshop), the company created by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht in 1996.

"In the 70 years I was still a child and I began to discover the cars that ran the Grands Prix. My passion was born at that time. And at the same time, my love of chronos was born: I admired Jack Heuer, I was fascinated by the Daytona and all the watches that had a link with motorsport. Moreover, our watch is a tribute to Jack Heuer: in addition to being a visionary designer, he was a great entrepreneur with a real sense of marketing. He was one of the first to have the idea of ​​associating a watch with a personality. And especially during a car race. It set fire to my imagination, "says Rob Dickinson.

Marco Borracino shares the same passion for vintage cars, music and watches, including the sport chronographs of the 1960 and 1970 years.  Three years ago, the designer decided to contact Rob Dickinson. "I love what you do with Porsche, would you be interested in creating a watch?" He asks. "Yes, of course, but she has better be very special!" Says Rob Dickinson. And they decide to meet in Geneva. We are in 2015.

"I collect antique watches and chronos fascinate me but I always found that they had a problem of legibility, says MarcoBorracino. I started to look at this problem by redesigning great classics, with the idea of ​​removing as much information as possible from the center of the dial to make the chrono more readable. There are iconic elements in a watch: the bezel and the hands in the center, among others. And I said to myself: why not use the telescope to display the time and thus keep the center for the chronograph function, with a huge counter that would be much more readable than the three small counters? So I made a drawing corresponding to my idea and I went in search of a motorist: it's fine to draw a model but if you can not make it work, it is useless! "

One day, while they were having lunch together, Marco Borracino unveiled his project to Jean-Marc Wiederrecht. The watch designer remains speechless: it has been almost ten years since he worked relentlessly in the same direction, on a new chronograph system with hands in the center. A top secret project named AgenGraphe. "He suspected me of getting information from someone. He was very angry. We explained ourselves and we decided to work on this project together, "says Marco Borracino. We owe the birth of the Singer Track 1 to this wonderful synchronicity.

A chronograph is a horological complication intended to measure time intervals. But on all current times, the display of functions is divided into three small counters, not always very readable. The Agengraph is built around a series of spiral cams and allows a central display of chronograph functions. As for the reading of the hour, it is stored on the periphery, on the telescope. "It's a totally different design. There is nothing left of a traditional chrono ", comments Jean-Marc Wiederrecht.

"With the Singer Track1 we have reinvented the traditional chronograph, in the same way that we reimagine Porsche, says Rob Dickinson. We worked on the smallest details until 2016. It is a collaboration of sensibilities. We are happy to participate in this birth alongside two great watchmaking professionals. This makes us legitimate. To start a watch today without this level of expertise would be crazy! "When I ask him which models will follow the Singer Track1 he answers without answering:" You'll see! We have plans for the next 5 years. "

With its neo-retro look, as if she had always been part of the watchmaking landscape, la Singer Track1won the Grand Prix of the contest The Watch of the Yearin Warsaw last October. And if the team won the Aiguille d'Or of the Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix, the November 8?

Singer Track 1

Cascade of gears on mechanical box base

The new-generation chronograph designed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht for Singer Reimagined, the watchmaking arm of the company specializing in the customization of Porsche 911, is the mechanical outcome of two virtually identical visions. - Vincent Daveau

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This titanium piece with a design very inspired by the watchmaking products of seventies, is part of the family of instruments of new watchmaking: it pushes the limits of pure mechanics while exploiting components drawn from the great classical mechanic, but redesigned in a new architecture.

Today, technology provides the opportunity to overcome the codes of yesteryear and to recompose mechanical mobiles in other plans. It offers minds that think in three dimensions to design in 3D. This way of doing things frees creativity and allows you to reconsider classic complications such as tourbillon, bell watches and chronographs.

With Singer Reimagined Track 1, it's a bit of a mix of the primordial instrument imagined by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht known as AgenGraphe (contraction of Agenhor and chronograph) and a vision of the designer Marco Borraccino, that the we find formatted. It is also the materialization of a questioning of the classic complications in the light of the modern tools offered to the watchmakers of today.

Reinventing the complications of classical watchmaking is one of the technical expressions of the new grammar that creators like Jean-Marc Wiederrecht have been able to develop from the tools made available to them by computer-assisted design programs. The ancients designed their movements in two dimensions in horizontal layers, because the way to implement them was a drawing table. Today, 3D thought-through modeling using super-high-powered computers supported by high-performance programs like Katia or CREO, allows engineers to get away from normative codes to dare assemblies that the brain may have imagined. be 15 years ago, but that the reason forbade to try because still lacked methods of feasibility calculations and multi-dimensional machining technologies like systems DRIE or LIGA.

To fully understand how the chronograph complication built into a completely original self-winding mechanical caliber complements the Singer Track 1 Chronograph, it has to be grasped in separate, three-dimensional elements.

The whole purpose of the system is to make it possible to give priority to the measurement of short times and to make them occupy the center of the dial. Therefore, the entire caliber is designed to allow the chronograph mechanism to occupy the physical center of the movement. If one had to compare its mode of construction with an already existing architecture, one could say that it is structured in the manner of a device of bell-ring which also makes use of the snails to transmit information which, of rotation, must be translated into translation.

But it seems clear that all of this movement has been reflected a bit like a car gearbox. This central body is coupled to the assembly via a vertical clutch with friction wheels (diamond wheels as it would be a nail file, but in infinitely finer) and toothed wheels in protection to prevent accidental jumps in case of shocks.

Once connected to the motion without stray jumps, as can happen in conventional constructions, the seconds wheel starts rotating while a probe glides without friction (or very low due to an optimized surface treatment) on the so-called "snail" cam in watchmaking language, whose profile resembles that of the Fibonacci curve.

At the end of 60 seconds, this probe which progressively armed a driving mechanism of the jumper type falls and triggers its implementation allowing the jump of a tooth of the minute wheel.

After 60 minutes, the probe sliding on the snail minutes falls in turn in the recess provided for this purpose and triggers the jump of a tooth of the hour wheel and so on.

This very sophisticated system, designed not to have any impact on the smooth running of the movement (isochronism), makes every minute a jump to the minute hand. And every hour the mechanism makes two jumps instantaneous and synchronized causing at the same time the hands of minutes and hours to jump a notch and until the chronograph mechanism engaged by the wearer of the watch is stopped then, possibly reset by means of special hammers, as would be a normal chronograph.