We feel very privileged at Christopher Ward to be working with watchmaker, Johannes Jahnke, who is undoubtedly one of horology’s young stars.
Although watches he has previously created, such as Lang & Heynes King Albert of Saxony watch, sell for tens of thousands of pounds, he has become inspired by the Christopher Ward mission to make luxurious timepieces accessible to a much wider audience and now devotes his considerable energy and skills to achieving this goal.
His first complication for us, the JJ01 Jumping Hour modification, was a huge success and is now released in its third incarnation, the exquisite C9 Jumping Hour MK III 40mm. No other brand had ever produced such a watch at anywhere near the price. Not surprisingly, the 200 piece limited edition sold out in weeks.
Although a very modest man, we have persuaded him to speak about the development of the JJ01 and you can read the original interview below. One thing that those who have already read the interview find unusual is the very matter-of-fact way in which Johannes talks about one of the cleverest pieces of micro-engineering in the watch industry for years – only beaten probably by his 120 hour power reserve for our Calibre SH21 – but that is the nature of the man. In a watch industry so full of hyperbole and inflated egos, it is refreshing to find such understated brilliance. We will be taken to task by him, however, for such a glowing portrayal! Anyway, here’s the interview…
Q. Why were you inspired to create a jumping hour movement?
J. We’re focusing on movement additions which can be located in a separated module that allows us to use standard base movements. The Jumping Hour is such a separated module. It is a mixture between turning and moving parts and this makes it interesting for us. There are a lot of complications with wheels and gears, but not so many with moving levers and cams. It is closer to the kinematic of a chronograph than of a moon phase or a power reserve. We have seen a lot of Jumping Hours in the past but only in higher price ranges. There is no “affordable” Jumping Hour movement around. The Jumping Hour has, until now, been the reserve of luxury brands because it needs mainly expensive parts for an understated look. With our thinking to make luxury watches for an affordable price there was a big margin between our ideas and the existing movements on the market.
Q. You have used an ETA 2824-2 as the base movement. Why was this?
J. The 2824-2 is the main movement on the market. It is reliable and not too thick to carry the module. But the module is constructed in such a way that we can use nearly every mechanical base movement behind. But with the focus on the affordable price, the 2824-2 is the best solution.
Q. Can you explain how your JJ01 modification works?
J. Please look to the video below. In the centre of the main movement we add a cam which turns once per hour. The Cam lifts a lever which is pushed by a strong spring towards the centre. After exactly 60 minutes, the lifting time of the cam ends. The lever can fall down and it takes the centre star with it. The centre star has 12 positions and it supports the turning disc. The system is not new, but it is more complicated than other systems…
Q. The C9 JH keeps exceptionally good time for a jumping hour watch. How has this been achieved?
J. The main advantage of the system is, that it “eats” constantly the power of the base movements. This helps to adapt the regulation of the base movement. There are some other systems on the market where the power for the jump is taken in the last 10 minutes before the jump. There you have the problem that the watch has 50 minutes at the full power of the base movement and during the last 10 minutes the amplitude of the balance will go down. The cam in our system is calculated so that we have a stable amplitude.
Q. Have you made any changes to the movement for the Mk III model?
J. The Mk III model uses generally the same system. We have improved the power of the jump and the positioning of the hour disc. Now we can adjust the position of the disc with a small ex-centric. It is so precise now, that you cannot see the thin number “I” below the minute hand when it shows exactly 60min. The movement now a stopping piece so that the jump is limited to exactly 30°. We can now give the jumping spring more power, the effect of which is to cause the movement to stop the disc more precisely.
Q. How do these improve the new watch?
J. By looking to the disc the jump is more digital. That means the disc accelerates more and stops within a tenth of a second. It gives the watch a higher feeling for the quality inside.
Q. You personally assemble the watches at your workshop in Biel. Is anyone else involved and how long does it take to assemble a C9 Jumping Hour from start to finish?
J. I try to assemble the first 50 pieces of all new constructions myself. But often I need also help in the beginning as we’re working on so many projects at the same time. I’m happy to now have two highly qualified watchmakers (Frank and Stefan) here in Biel and most of the time we’re working together on the same watches. Frank is focused more in the Chronograph and construction area whilst Stefan is more involved with quality assurance and servicing. For a Jumping Hour watch we need around 60 minutes to assemble the watch but of course it varies a lot because it is all is by hand…
Q. Will you and the team be personally responsible for servicing the C9 Jumping Hour watches?
J. In general it is Stefan who takes care of the servicing but of course I would like to see the reasons why a watch is coming back. I need the feedback to improve the constructions. If it is an unusual fault I will repair it myself.
Q. Are you working on any exciting new projects with Christopher Ward?
J. As I have said already, we’re working on different additions to make the brand Christopher Ward more unique. There is a new World-timer model for this year and also a new Big Day/Date version of an existing calibre. There are also some “bigger” projects, but it is too early to talk about…