Interview: The Reluctant Watchmaker

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The Prologue

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Adnan Arif
Editor in Chief

Looks can be deceiving and that is certainly the case with the Marc Jenni Prologue wristwatch (pictured above). The deception is revealed when one tries to switch between it’s three functions – wind, date and time. In order to switch between them, there is a large selector button.

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All you do is press it to to the desired function and then rotate the black wheel that wraps around the case to set it and then you realize that what you are holding is fresh and new or at the very least something you haven’t seen before and you would be right because it’s the world’s first laternal winding mechanism.

The watch is designed by the brand’s namesake, Marc Jenni and we spoke to him about his watch and his new brand that he co-founded with his friend, Vicente Mafé:

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Marc Jenni

Adnan: The Prologue is a well thought-out design. How did you find the inspiration for it?

Marc: Thank you for your compliment! It was like a puzzle; you start with placing the first piece and all following items are linked together with its natural structure until its completion. The first piece of the puzzle was the turning ring. It steered the whole design approach. Since the wheel is turning around the watch case, it needed to go “through” the lugs of the case and it resulted being the main DNA of the watch.

Another design approach was the use of curves and counter-curves. The case lugs and watch hands illustrate best this approach. Finally, the dial layout has been placed into the context as if an explosion occurred in the center of the watch and the projectiles were fired regularly over the dial plate tracing the miscellaneous indications and applications.

At the end of the day one criteria is of essence; is everything well thought out and perfectly balanced? For this I do not have any explanation, this approach must lie somewhere in me…

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Adnan: You’ve said that you’ve never wanted to be a watchmaker. How did you discover your passion for it and what led you to decide to develop your own brand?

Marc: I grew up with my father operating a watch store in Zurich, himself being a 2nd generation watchmaker. I was somewhat already familiar with that business; I wanted to explore other directions and finally to find my own way. I did not want to become “another” third generation watchmaker by simply following the footsteps of my ancestors! I needed to discover my own motivation. Architecture was one option I was checking out – but it did not satisfy me. Director in the film industry was another dream…

Finally, I gave watchmaking a try and after miscellaneous stages in the industry, I found what I was looking for. I needed to bring to life – to create – what I have in mind. During my apprenticeship, I learned how to manufacture watch components from scratch and how to transform simple steel or brass plates into small and functional components. Over time I found out that the art of watchmaking best suits my skills and visions. It actually reflects my own personality! I feel stimulated and well balanced when I work; I think that’s how I could describe my passion.

I think developing my own brand is a synthesis of my competences and ambitions. It is a new way I wanted to explore in giving my visions and creations liberty and independency. I worked for 10 years as an employee for a renowned American jeweler and I always knew that this is just a period in my life. An important period however – I needed to learn and grow prior to establish my own company. You need to be ready for such an adventure!

Adnan: What do you envision for the future of the brand?

Marc: I like to present unusual new concepts and innovations. I still have many more ideas which are waiting for being unveiled one day. I envision the creation of a small dedicated team with which the future concepts will turn into reality even faster.

With hard work and dedication, we should be able to place the brand exactly there where we want it to be, an iconic watch with its own character and appeal. A must have for any watch connoisseur and collector!

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Marc Jenni

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