Dean Owen in Lifestyle, Watches Brand Ambassador • beBee Oct 14, 2016 · 2 min read · 1.3K

Exceptional Artisans of the 21st Century – Martin Pauli

Exceptional Artisans of the 21st Century – Martin Pauli

It was back in 2004 that Martin Pauli decided to take things, quite literally, into his own hands. This one-man show is quietly making waves in an industry that has become hostage to supply chains and big marketing. Fed up with being a slave to his suppliers, Pauli took a step back in time.

Pauli had, from a young age, been fascinated by craftsmanship. His career began as an apprentice window display artist for a department store in Bern, Switzerland. Here, he learned many of the skills that would shape his career. After a few years, he stumbled into a career in one of the oldest professions, metal smithing, “due to a bet”. At a knife making workshop just outside of Bern, Pauli learned how to forge and grind steel blades to make knives. It wasn’t long before disruption swept the industry and countries like Japan started mass producing quality knives with the aid of Computer Numeric Control (CMC) systems and Computer Aided Design (CAD) programs.

Pauli kept at his craft, spinning off into gold smithing and jewelry in his spare time.

In a turn of events he was approached to help develop a watch brand. The brand he created was Angular Momentum, but the project hit the end of the runway when additional and required funding could not be secured. Pauli decided to keep the brand, and in 1998, the Angular Momentum watch brand was founded. Unfortunately Pauli knew little about watchmaking, so he had no choice but to work with suppliers for parts. The next six years proved to be a nightmare in terms of dealing with delivery delays and shoddy quality. His livelihood was at the whims of uncontrollable forces. Then 9/11 hit and the industry was dealt a serious blow. The final straw was perhaps a decision by the then Chairman and founder of Swatch Group, Nicolas Hayek, to stop supplying Swatch owned ETA ébauches (raw movements) to companies outside the Swatch group by 2006. It was estimated that ETA was responsible for supplying 70% of ébauches used in Swiss watchmaking (Wall Street Journal). In fairness to the late Nicolas Hayek, he was a man with legendary business acumen and is often cited as single handedly saving the Swiss watch industry during the quartz crisis in the 1980’s (Forbes – The Genius of Nicolas Hayek).

And so it was that in 2004, Martin Pauli decided to reinvent his atelier by using hand operated machines of the mid-20th Century. Today he fashions and finishes each watch by hand, including the cases, crowns, buckles, dials, and hands. The movements are purchased from old assembly companies or specialized dealers, typically new-old-stock movements manufactured between 1950 and 1975. Each movement is carefully disassembled, restored, finished, and tested by the man himself. In 2012, he introduced an in-house “Régulateur” movement with main plate and extensions painstakingly made by hand. Over the years, Pauli has also learned and mastered incredibly complex techniques such as Verre Églomisé, Japanese Urushi (lacquer), Champlevé enamel, Shubuichi and Shakudo.

The watches are bespoke miniature works of art, each one, the product of a single pair of hands that belong to arguably the most diversified talent in watchmaking, Martin Pauli.

Exceptional Artisans of the 21st Century – Martin Pauli

What does Martin wear himself? When I caught up with him during a visit to Shanghai, he was naturally sporting one of his own creations. This particular piece from the 9 “pièce unique” Dragon collection.

Exceptional Artisans of the 21st Century – Martin Pauli

For more information on some of the techniques employed at atelier Angular Momentum & Manu Propria :

The Making of a Timepiece

Verre Églomisé

Miniature Pigment Painting on the reverse side of a Sapphire Glass

Sources: A Few Minutes with Martin Pauli – Tempus Fugit

One Hundred Views– The World of Angular Momentum & Manu Propria

Picture Credits (Above): Dean Owen

Picture Credits (Below): Angular Momentum

If you are interested in exploring another incredible independent watchmaker, please read my previous article:

Portrait of a Living Legend 

Exceptional Artisans of the 21st Century – Martin Pauli

Exceptional Artisans of the 21st Century – Martin Pauli

Exceptional Artisans of the 21st Century – Martin Pauli

Exceptional Artisans of the 21st Century – Martin Pauli

Gerald Hecht Oct 16, 2016 · #29

#27 @Dean Owen oh the emoji thing was yesterday.

+1 +1
Aurorasa Sima Oct 16, 2016 · #28

#27 Nice. I´ll not be the only fan then. I have Bonnie (5 nights at Freddy´s) as one of my watch faces (:

Dean Owen Oct 16, 2016 · #27

#24 #25 Hmmm, now I need to find a link between this Emojifest and Horology....🤔. This will do -

+2 +2
Gerald Hecht Oct 15, 2016 · #26

#24 these "auto emojis" are like ⌚️...see? I didn't put that ⌚️ in this message; I am telling you 👌🏻 this is science 🔬

+1 +1
Gerald Hecht Oct 15, 2016 · #25

#23 @Aurorasa Sima you are still not understanding; these are "auto emojis" they have feelings they 😭 and 😭 and 😂 all by themselves; it is the true test of EQ --it is science 🔬!

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Aurorasa Sima Oct 15, 2016 · #24

#22 We should stop now. Dean will be so mad at us. And with what? With every right.

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Aurorasa Sima Oct 15, 2016 · #23

#22 "5 ways to dump someone via emoji"

Just sayin´ Where there´s a will, there´s an emoji

+1 +1
Gerald Hecht Oct 15, 2016 · #22

#21 @Aurorasa Sima When I break up with someone or say "I am breaking up with you" --it did not generate any; let me try something else: I ❤️ what you said about enjoying 📖 your 📚!!! Ah ha! The 💻 has a very 👋 👋 😭 Intelligence!

+1 +1