Two Young Watchmakers
In 2007, Gaël Petermann and Florian Bédat met in their first year at the Ecole d'Horlogerie de Genève. Having remained friends throughout that period, they stayed in touch after finishing their education. Gaël went to work for A. Lange & Söhne, where he spent almost three years, working his way from simpler watches such as the Lange 1, to more complicated pieces, such as the Datograph.
Having started at Harry Winston, Florian eventually joined Gaël in Glashütte, spending his time assembling entire movements from start to finish - a tradition which has been lost in many modern manufactures. At A. Lange & Söhne, both watchmakers refined their craft, while at the same time developing certain aesthetic sensibilities that would later carry through into their own creations.
After a few years in Germany, both watchmakers felt the desire to return to their native country, Switzerland. Rather than take the more conventional route of working for an established manufacture, they chose to start their own workshop together. Initially, they worked as restorers, a path often taken by celebrated independents such as François-Paul Journe, Kari Voutilainen or Franck Muller. Working closely with a number of collectors, as well as Christie’s Watch Department in Geneva, they had the opportunity to handle and restore some of the most interesting pieces of the past few centuries, from Cartier mystery clocks to tourbillons made by Abraham-Louis Breguet.
The Birth of Petermann Bédat
The pair happened to find a workshop right next to that of Dominique Renaud, of Renaud Papi, the famed complications manufacturer. In 2017, Renaud asked the two young watchmakers if they could decorate two watch movements he had been working on, as well as encase one of them. In exchange for the work, rather than accept payment, the watchmakers asked Renaud and his engineer to help them develop their own movement.
Gaël and Florian chose to create a deadbeat seconds movement, one of the more obscure complications in horology, rarely found in contemporary watchmaking. The mechanism they adopted was designed in the 1940s by Robert Gafner, a teacher at the La Chaux-de-Fonds Watchmaking School. They came across his work whilst exploring archival documents at the library, and chose this system not because it was the easiest – far from it – but for its accuracy and appealing aesthetics. This became the foundation for the Petermann Bédat 1967 Deadbeat Seconds.
In 2020, Petermann Bédat were awarded the Horological Revelation Prize at the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève, despite having only just revealed their first watch the same year. Since then, the pair have been working away in their workshop to deliver the 1967 Deadbeat Seconds pieces to clients.
A Forward-Thinking Design
The 1967 Deadbeat Seconds is clearly the result of a combination of influences, from the German watchmaking the pair experienced at A. Lange & Söhne to the vintage pieces they had the opportunity to restore. It features an open-worked sector dial, which combines their respect for traditional mid-century design, with an intent to inject their own vision into classic horology.
The dial combines a clear sapphire surface, with a center plate and chapter ring for the minutes, both of them made from stainless steel. These feature a lightly texture frosted finished, with pronounced, mirror polished bevels on the edges. The hour markers are printed in black lacquer onto the sapphire glass, using a combination of numerals and index markers. At certain angles, they leave a shadow on the plate below, which gives a satisfying level of depth to the design.
The open-work allows the two watchmakers to showcase their finishing ability, with a range of flourishes found throughout. At 3 o’clock, the mechanism used to engage the crown is exposed, showcasing its thoughtful design and impressive decoration. A few exposed screws and jewels also reinforce the contemporary styling of this piece. The case is restrained in styling, measuring 39mm by 10.7mm, allowing the other features of the design to shine through.
The 1967 Deadbeat Seconds is powered by the Calibre 171, which was designed, assembled and finished by Gaël Petermann and Florian Bédat. The hand-wound movement integrates a secondary escapement for the deadbeat seconds complication, which is mounted onto the three-quarter plate. It’s also equipped with an adjustable mass balance wheel of the watchmakers’ own design, with a Breguet overcoil hairspring and swan neck regulator.
The escapement used in the Calibre 171 relies on a two-sided anchor, with four arms shaped like arrows, which rock back and forth as the escapement locks and unlocks on each side. Reminiscent of movements from the late 19th or early 20th century, the movement displays a range of impressive finishing throughout, from the generous Côtes de Genève to the mirror-polished steel cap of the escape wheel.
This 1967 Deadbeat Seconds is brand new and is subject to VAT at the prevailing rate. It comes with its box and paperwork signed by Gaël Petermann and Florian Bédat.
A Collected Man is the exclusive European retailer for Petermann Bédat. Whilst all of our allocations of the 1967 Deadbeat Seconds have now sold out, we look forward to accompanying both watchmakers along their journey, as they grow their brand. If you would like to be notified about future projects, please let us know your interest.
To find out more about Petermann Bédat, you can watch our film with the young watchmakers.