Swiss brand Andersen Genève was founded in the 1970s on the back of a single bespoke order. Svend Andersen had been a watchmaker at Patek Philippe for nearly a decade when a German collector approached him to create a bespoke timepiece. Since then, his atelier has undertaken some 100 unique commissions for clients drawn to the house’s expertise in decorative finishes.
Bespoke orders (from $50,000) tend to be based around Andersen Genève’s underlying collections, such as the recent Vita Vinum watches depicting 12 winemaking scenes – from harvesting and crushing to pressing and fermentation. Oenophiles can further customise the caseback with, say, images of their favourite vineyard in Bordeaux or Napa.
The Montre à Tact line, meanwhile, is essentially a blank horological canvas, its large dial set with a small window displaying the time that sits between the lugs. The dial can be set with an unusual stone – aventurine and jade are popular choices – or hand-engraved or painted with any image or text. For one client, a scene of dogs playing poker was meticulously and characterfully depicted, the time humorously shown via chips and playing cards. The minute details included a tiny letter A etched on a cigar.
“If you miniaturise everything, the design will look a mess,” says Andersen Genève CEO Pierre-Alexandre Aeschlimann. “Our artists know what to take out and what to keep, but you have to let them take their time.” This can be anywhere between six months and a year, depending on the complication of both the decoration and movement. The intricate Worldtime watches, for example, take longest, and include a bespoke version of the 24-time-zone Tempus Terrae that replaced the US cities with Canadian ones and made the movement visible through a glass caseback.