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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Back in June I got an invitation to come to Poland for the Aurochronos Festival in Lodz.

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The Aurochronos Festival is a pioneering initiative of two Polish watch aficionados, a brainchild of Maciej Mazurkiewicz and Pawel Zalewski, and was held or the third time this year (05 to 06 October 2019).

The show is gaining popularity due to many independent brands and micro brands from the US, Asia and Europe. The goal of the festival is to share the love for fine and independent watchmaking, here in Europe and abroad.

Aurochronos has become a household name among watch brands interested in reaching out to the Polish watch community and this year’s event was on the right pass to surpass the previous editions on all fronts.

The organizers explain their concept as an contra-part to the big watch events:

“The world of wristwatches has been dominated by large capital groups of the watch industry for many years,” they write on their website. “We respect these brands and admire their achievements. We understand, however, that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and therefore it is virtually impossible to cater to the needs and tastes of all consumers with universal solutions on a large scale.”

When Maciej asked me to become a member of the this year’s jury there was no need for further persuasion. I felt flattered. My decision was 99,9% certain, I’ll drive to Lodz. And I did.

Jury members

Theodore Diehl (chair)

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Marc Andre Deschoux (TheWATCHES.tv)

Bogustaw Kocerba (watch collector, social media watch promoter)

Jonathan Kopp (Watchisthis)

Maciej Kopyto (Zegarki i Pasja)

Kalle Slaap (watchmaker and Dutch micro-brands popularizer)

Paulina Smaszcz-Kurzajewska (Journalist and TV-presenter)

Mike Stuffler (Watchuseek)

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The jury had a difficult task to fulfill. We had to award

# Independent men’s watch
# Independent ladies`watch
# The premiere of the year
# Discovery of the year
# Best of the Best (the Grand Prix so to say)

Exhibitors (no complete listing):

AEVIG

Alfa Flag

Allemano

Anonimo Firenze

Arnold & Son

FineWatchesBerlin

Brellum,

Cedric Johner

Crafter Blue

Cuervo y Sobrinos

Dijman Watches

Dumet Watches

Emile Chouriet

Estimo

Everest

Filipe Silva

Formex Swiss Watches

G.Gerlach

GAVOX

Giuliano Mazzuoli

Hawaan Turali

Holthinrichs Watches

Hulsman

Kneijnberg & van Eijk

Laco

Maison D’LongueVille

Monta

Ocean Crawler

Perfekta

Prim

Qlocktwo

Sartory Billard

SGS

Schaumburg Watches

Siduna

Soma

Squale

Techné Instruments

VDB

Victorinox

Von Doren

Wenger

Xicorr

Yvan Monnet


The watch fair offered a lot of lectures as well, 10 in total. I only hat the time to join two, both have been very interesting and entertaining at the same time:

- „When timekeeping was a matter of life or death“

- „Fact & Fiction: Methods of fine finishing in wristwatch movements“

Both lectures were given by jury chairman Theodore Diehl, company spokesman and horologist of Richard Mille. It was really fun to listen to him and to talk watches.

Already after my first tour through the halls of Expo Lodz, I was more than convinced by the concept of Maceij and Pawel.

A lot of exhibitors, among them some excellent watchmakers, have been completely unknown to me until I met and spoke to them in Lodz, this included Dijkman, Hulsman, Allemano, Kneijnberg & van Eijk.



I’ve been familiar with some other brands, e.g. From Brellum, AEVIG, GAVOX, Hawaiian Turali, Monta, Ocean Crawler, Sartory Billard, Siduna, Yvan Monnet, because I heard or read about them. But to see them in the flesh was quite an exciting experience.

So let’s start with my pictorial almanac to introduce (only) some of the brands showcased at the Aurochronos Festival.

Allemano

Allemano, a brand based in Torino/Italy, with a history of producing technical instruments for over 150 years, now launched their „Misuratori del Tempo“.

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Originally Allemano's instruments were to be found on military vehicles and lately on industrial machineries. The „Misuratori del Tempo“ watches are inspired by Allemano’s 1919 pressure gauge installed on board of the FIAT 501 Torpedo.

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Brellum

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Brellum are an independent Swiss watchmaker who pride themselves on producing top quality timepieces for admirers of superb craftsmanship, and rightfully though. Exceptional quality of the components and a breathtaking decoration of the movement makes this watch a must have.

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You do not see it very often, even the deployant appears to be finely finished.

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They are not cheap but looking at the whole package the watch still offers value for money.

The Brellum Duobox is a timeless dress chronograph and is reminiscent of earlier times and breathes the style of the 70s, a vintage feel though.

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The Duobox is available in three different dial colors and many different straps and bracelet options.

Gavox

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The Gavox table was always crowded. Michael Happé is a guy who knows to entertain his followers. He is a very eloquent guy and always good for some fun.

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His brand exists since 2011 and the Gavox Aurora is one of the coolest, most-purposeful watches I have seen so far. Not really my cup of tea since it is quartz (Soprod Mecatronic developed with Gavox to Michael’s specs) but nevertheless the „package“ is quite stunning. It displays all geographical and political time zones. Basically it is like having the functionality of a digital watch nut with an analog layout. Seven different modes don’t leave any question unanswered.

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G.Gerlach

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Last year G.Gerlach won in the category „Premiere of the year“ with their Marszatek Tourbillon and this year they were awarded with the audience prize.

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Krzysztof had two new Bathyscaphe models in his portfolio. These Bathyscaphe models are rated 500m water resistant.

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Technical Specs:

Case: Stainless steel 316L, diameter 44mm, wr 500m

Dial: Yellow, orange, graphite, blue

Crystal: Sapphire crystal, ar coated

Movement: Seiko TMI NH 35A

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Formex

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Formex scored with their Essence model line and especially with their new Formex Essence Dégradé. The Dégradé can be pre-ordered from now on.

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The Formex Essence, does not matter what color or what strap/braclet, is a GADA watch. You can wear it in the opera as well as in the gym. You jog, you drink, you meet, you work, you‘re wearing the Essence.

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Prim

In 2019, PRIM celebrates 70 years from opening the manufacturing plant in Nové Město nad Metují. This significant anniversary inspired them to create a new limited edition to honor the very first Czechoslovak wristwatch SPARTAK.

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The minimalist design hasn’t lost any of its magic over the seven decades, and technical improvements and used materials fulfill the needs of the contemporary wearer.

The limited edition - Prim Spartak 70 L.E. comes with several special new features. Now, for the first time, the new-generation SPARTAK received a small second hand, which was used on the original model in the 50s.

The other PRIM i was impressed by was the Prim Republica.
The dial of PRIM REPUBLIKA follows the minimalist philosophy of its predecessor, although it uses numeral indices.

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The dial was designed by designer Jiří Karásek.

Alfa Flag

Alfa Flag was already known to me for producing the Hydromatic Diver 200m, a diver’s watch inspired by the 60’s vintage dive watches.

But at the Aurochronos Festival Alfa Flag showcased some really surprising vintage inspired dress watches with lovely colorways, the new Altas models.

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Dijkman Watches

One of the watches I was most impressed by was the Dijkman Versum.

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Versum is Latin and literally means „reversed“. In this particular watch, the movement is reversed. The back of the movement is now the face and the front is now to be seen on the back.

This offers a beautiful insight into the movement. The movement is heavily modified by hand and is based on the 18-jewels ETA/Unitas 6497.

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The hands move by a proprietary innovative system, they are attached to wheels and seem to float.
The gold and rhodinated parts together create a beautiful depth of action in the watch.
The custom made case has a diameter of 42 mm. Two versions are available as well as a ladies watch with enamel dial.

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I learned that Holke Dijkman ist not unknown to the watch aficionados. He acquired all his craftsmanship, knowledge and expertise from the Watchmakers school in Hoorn/NL and by working as a tool maker at Christiaan van der Klaauw and Van der Gang Watches in Dokkum/NL (I love their „Vlieger“ models).

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His CV reads as follow:

„His first job as a clock repairer ended in 1985 because of the duty of service. In the Army, Holke was an optical and mechanical instrumentator for, among other things, the viewing and targeting devices in tanks and armored vehicles.

In 1992, Holke came to the firm of W.Prins Matrijzen and Models as a tool maker. Here he gained extensive experience with milling, grinding, sparkling, manual finishing and polishing.

In 2001, a crucial step took place towards Holke’s own watch. Over a decade of collaboration with Christiaan van der Klaauw Astronomical Watches started this year. His work consisted of calculating gear transfers and making prototypes of these watches with astronomical complications. It is right to say that Holke made an important contribution to the development of Van der Klaauw to the internationally renowned watch brand that it is now.

After that, another three-year period followed at Van der Gang Watches in Dokkum, where Holke, in addition to repair and service, put together new watches.“

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Fine Watches Berlin

From Berlin with Love, a father and daughter enterprise.

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„Bauhaus“ has been on everyone's lips in the watch sector for a long time now. And so it is not surprising that Fine Watches Berlin has been guided by the Bauhaus design when designing their first watch „Teufelsberg“. The „Teufelsberg“ is simple, sober, and functional watch inspired by the Bauhaus. A selection of details emphasizes its simplicity and formal appearance.

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The name of the watch comes from a man-made hill in Berlin, Germany, in the Grunewald locality of former West Berlin. In times of the cold war, there were listening devices of the US installed on top of the Teufelsberg.

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A Miyota 8218 ticks inside the Teufelsberg which is known to be a very reliable and robust automatic movement (42 hrs power reserve, 21 jewels, 21,600 b/h.

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It got a decent Geneva Stripes finishing and the icing on the cake:

+ all visible screws have been replaced by heat blued screw

+ a customized rotor with golden coating and the engraving “From Berlin With Love”

With every „Teufelsberg“ you get two straps (quick release feature). The buckles with FWB logo are made of polished stainless steel, machting the case finish though.

Hulsman Watches

Another Dutch watchmaker I have not heard about before traveling to Lodz is Machiel Hulsman.

Based in Hilversum in The Netherlands, Hulsman Timepieces is a small luxury watch atelier specialized in producing bespoke mechanical luxury watches.

This horological workshop translates customer ideas into designs and makes unique timepieces from the scratch by hand.

The first creation from Hulsman Timepieces is the „Marie-Elise“, this wristwatch is said to be the first watch in Dutch history being fully handmade in the Netherlands.

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The Marie-Elise watch features a rose gold case with open lugs and a silver guilloche dial with heat blued steel hands and indices. The manual wound mechanical movement has been designed, calculated and manufactured from the ground up.

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The 3/4 platine with blued screws and gold chatons shows the black polished balance bridge. Côtes de Genève, perlage, anglage, black polish, etc have all been executed to the highest standards.

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The movement features hand cut and polished rubies in the barrel as well as many other hand cut rubies like the pallets and impulse jewel, 20 jewels in total. Inside the movement there is a triangle shaped pallet fork made from hardened steel, an innovation that is lighter than a regular pallet fork and is more efficient. The movement offers a power reserve of 46 hours.



Sartory Billard

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This brand was founded in France with the ambition to create bespoke, custom-made truly unique watches. Up to now Sartory Billard offers four model lines, simply named SB01 (Mechanical Sport), SB02 (Infinite Possibilities), SB03 (Bespoke) and SB04 (Exceptional).

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Sartory Billard create unique dials that you will never find in an industrial series. The cases are made and “finished” in Switzerland. The watch hands are created by SB from a 0.2mm stainless steel sheet, requiring 3 to 4 hours to complete. The dial indexes are made in-house as well.

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Other brands, just pics


Squale

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Monta

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Ocean Crawler

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Crafter Blue

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Maison d’LongueVille

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Cedric Johner

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Laco

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Kneijnsberg & van Eijk

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Award Ceremony

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I will post more pics here and on IG in the time to come.

Pics©Jonathan Kopp, tempusX, mikestuffler
 

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Very nice Mike. I learned quite a bit about some brands I had no idea existed. Thanks for all of the pictures.

The Brellum is most excellent.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
And now that the winners have been announced publicly by the organizers of Aurochronos Festival here they are:

Machiel Hulsman - Marie Elise [Grand Prix],

PRIM Manufacture Elton hodinářská a. s. - Spartak [Independent Men's Watch]

Dijkman Watches - Versum [Independent Woman's Watch]

Yvan Monnet - Five [Pemiere of the Year]

Kneijnsberg & van Eijk - Artio [Discovery of the Year]

G. Gerlach [Audience award of the bank PKO Bank Polski]

Formex Swiss Watches [Nagroda Magazynu Logo]

Cédric Johner [Special Award of the Organizers]
 

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What a fantastic post, and a truly wonderful experience for you.

Thanks for sharing and for the great pics and insights. Much appreciated

I can second your view on brellum. Absolutely wonderful brand quality and Sebastian is a tremendous gentleman , I suppose I’ll take this chance to show you mine :)

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
What do exhibitors think of the Aurochronos Festival?

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Here’s what Raphael Granito, Owner of Formex Swiss Watches, thinks:

Last weekend we participated at the Aurochronos Festival in Lodz, Poland (pronounced Woodge, spelled Łódź in Polish). The festival was founded 3 years ago by two watch aficionados Maciej Mazurkiewicz and Paweł Zalewski. I’ve met the two of them at MunichTime last year where they introduced me to the concept of their festival: Showcasing independent watch brands, that are close to their final customers in and close up and personal setting. I liked the idea and after some research into the past editions, decided to participate with Formex.

We decided to hire a hostess for the booth, to be able to tend to the visitors who didn’t speak English, which was a good call, since most of the visitors were happy to be able to talk about our watches in Polish.

The foot traffic during the two festival days was quite good and the atmosphere relaxed. Between the different exhibitors, many of them one or two-men shows of independent watchmaking, we enjoyed some good conversations and very cordial and frank exchanges about our respective collections. This warm and friendly atmosphere between the exhibitors, even the ones I haven’t met before, is something I have so far only experienced at smaller gatherings or amongst brands that were already friendly before.

The passion for watchmaking that was in the air was almost palpable and completely overshadowed the sense of competition that might arise between these microbrands.

This is definitely something the visitors could feel, which led them to experiencing the brands in a stress-free and amicable environment.

Saturday night, the organizers threw an award ceremony with different Aurochronos Awards handed out by a Jury of watch industry experts and collectors such as Theodore Diehl, Company Spokesman & Horologist of Richard Mille and Marc Andre Deschoux, founder of the Watches TV Youtube channel and Mike Stuffler, watch expert, collector and Author at watchuseek.com.

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Formex was awarded the Logos Magazine award for our brand concept and timepieces. It was quite an honor receiving this award next to people who make every single cog and wheel of their timepieces by hand.

After the ceremony, the celebrations continued with a very nice dinner and a little bit too much of the local vodka. Needless to say, the exhibitors and organizers had a great time and the newly forged bonds were strengthened during the evening.

I highly recommend this event to our fans and aficionados, as it lets you experience and discover independent brands in a new and concentrated way. Lodz is about a two-hour drive from Warsaw and this festival could be part of a weekend getaway to discover the beautiful cities of Poland.

The next show we’ll be exhibiting at is Watchtime in Düsseldorf on October 25th-27th. Even though this is a more traditional fair, we will be there for you up close and personal, and we’re looking forward to present the new Essence LEGGERA there. The Formex Dinner on Saturday with almost 20 of you attending is booked out, but we have some official "invite-only" Watchtime VIP Tickets available for Thursday evening. Contact us if you're interested.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Worn & Wound once wrote:

„It’s always a great experience when you first see a watch in person that you previously had only seen images of, and the reality of it is far better than you expected.“

The Brellum is such a watch for sure.
 

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The Brellum classic/retro design auto chronograph pictured is delicious - I wonder how difficult it would be to find.
 
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