Claude Meylan, Watchmaker and Sculptor of Swiss Heritage

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There are hundreds of watchmakers producing their watches in Switzerland. Some brands are for sure more outstanding than others and a few brands have an interesting story to be told. Claude Meylan is a hidden gem in the history of Swiss Watchmaking. Expert in the savvy technique of skeletonisation the Swiss manufacturer will sculpt the Swiss heritage as a leightmotiv to innovate and surprise the watch aficionado. Each year, Claude Meylan crafts its watches in ways that only an artist would care for his precious creations. This year more than never, Swiss heritage is at honor. From Swiss icons to Swiss traditions, Claude Meylan creates an original and endless universe.

The Skeleton Watch Art by Claude Meylan

A skeleton watch is a mechanical watch, in which all of the moving parts are visible through either the front of the watch, the back of the watch or a small cut outlining the dial. True ‘skeletonization’ also includes the trimming away of any non-essential metal on the bridge, plate, wheel train or any other mechanical part of the watch, leaving only a minimalist ‘bare’ skeleton of the movement required for functionality. Often, the remaining thinned movement is decorated with engraving. This can be with or without a dial face that allows the user to see through to the movement.

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Obviously, the fine art of skeleton a watch would require a “less is more” approach. Bringing the movement to a minimalistic level is not necessary the only thing you can do. It can actually be more than that. It is a complex work of mechanics, art and design as well as maintaining the movement efficiency. Claude Meylan is definitely a true master in the art of skeletonization, working for other brands as well in the Vallée de Joux. Claude Meylan will use ETA movements and Valjoux movements in its watches. It is impressive to see how the movement is completely reworked to a deep degree. You will hardly recognize the original movement in the final result. Very impressive.

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Claude Meylan and the Swiss heritage

Claude Meylan is a proud company based in Vallée de Joux, a location dedicated to watchmaking. The roots of Claude Meylan is its major inspiration. The Swissness gathers a tremendous amount of cultural references and Claude Meylan uses this heritage to tell stories of tomorrow. The Vallée de Joux and its lake is a big inspiration for the Swiss watchmaker.
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Claude Meylan reveals the Meylan family know-how that perpetuates the art of skeleton for several centuries. Samuel-Olivier Meylan is probably one of the first watchmakers to establish his workshop in the Valley of Joux. He became officially a watchmaker in 1748 and he helped a lot the cause of watchmaking in the valley. Samuel-Olivier Meylan developed his skills as skeletonisation master and his know-how was transferred generation after generation. The Brand Claude Meylan was established in 1988 by Claude Meylan. His passion for watches brought him to develop the brand and conquered a confidential list of customers around the world. In 2002, Henri Berney acquires Claude Meylan from the hands of the founder himself and pursuits the tremendous work of skeleton watches. One specificity of Mr Berney is his passion for rare movements, especially the Valjoux. So he will dedicate a lot of his time purchasing rare Valjoux movements like the Valjoux 89, the Valjoux 13″88 or the Valjoux 13″23. Some of these movements stopped its production in the 50’s. But the adventure of Claude Meylan pursuits its road. In 2010, the brand was bought by Philippe Belais who also acquired in the same year the traditional leather gainerie Vaudaux. Two traditional Swiss know-hows with the same passion for beautiful things. Mr Belais brings a new energy and a true aim to develop the watch brand and to tell the brand story.

Claude Meylan, Sculptor Of Time And Swiss Story-Teller

What strikes in Claude Meylan collections is its ability to tell an amazing Swiss story, watchmaking story as well as in terms of design. The Culture of the Swiss emblematic regions have inspired Claude Meylan to celebrate certain rituals through ancestral symbols. The Poya collection pays the tribute to the original festival of the climb to the mountains pastures and associates Claude Meylan’s know-how to the Swiss Art of paper cutting. In this theme the skeletonisation makes completely sense.

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Claude Meylan combines its expertise with the traditional cuts of POYA arts to superimpose them to the decorations of the openwork movement. In the first watch of this series above, we discover an ETA 2512 caliber at 3 o’clock, which allows to free quite a lot of space to display the decor. The second watch has the entire dial that turns around with the hour hand. This allows you to discover different details of the dial across the day. It is a very clever idea. The ETA Unitas 6497 caliber powers this watch that is a beautiful skeleton version of the original movement. The last watch is a beautiful piece, a pocket watch. Sober and with innate elegance, this creation celebrates a new sculpture of time Claude Meylan. At its heart, adorned with white Rhodium, the hour and minute wheels lead the white hands in an infinite ballet. The ETA Unitas 6497 caliber is also powering this pocket watch, but fully skeletonized and engraved.

Claude Meylan, The “Tortue” and the “Legends”

The more you discover Claude Meylan, the more you want to learn more about this amazing brand. There are 2 amazing collection among others is the Tortue and the Legends. The Tortue or tortoise case-shape lends an eccentric nobility to Claude Meylan’s skeletonised movement, perfectly framing the whirring mechanics. The tonneau shape is a supreme icon of watchmaking elegance.

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The ETA 2801 caliber is unrecognizable. Claude Meylan has suspended all the movement elements between 2 sapphire glasses. With this collection called LAC, we can see the inspiring peacefulness of Lac de Joux and represents one of the icons of the brand.
The second collection that deserves a big highlight is the collection called Legends. It is a fantastic narration of amazing watches carrying extraordinary Valjoux movements. Valjoux SA, formerly Reymond Frères SA, was founded in 1901 in the Valley of Joux. In 1944, the company joins Ebauches SA and later on is acquired by ETA Manufacture Horlogère SA in 1965. Claude Meylan is passionate to purchase vintage Valjoux movements and rework them with skeleton design.

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It is inspirational to see such a great Swiss brand to create watches in the best state of art possible. Prices are really reasonable. There is an honesty and a cult for authenticity within Claude Meylan that honors the Vallée de Joux brand. If you want to see more about Claude Meylan, you can visit the brand official website:
http://www.claudemeylan.ch 

Claude Meylan is a fantastic Swiss ambassador for watchmaking. Historically located in the Vallée de Joux, this watchmaker offers a never-end story with great watches and a decent collection. Claude Meylan deserves to be known and to conquer the heart of watch aficionados around the world.

Arsene Wargas

Info sourced by the author for luxuryactivist.com. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available. Great thanks to Pia de Chefdebien at Claude Meylan for the time and support in the writing of this article. Images are for illustration purposes only. 

Arsene Wargas

Arsène is a young yet very passionate Parisian author. He is passionate about luxury watches and joined Luxury Activist team since 2015. While working in PR and marketing he loves to share his passion for luxury Swiss watch-making. He contributes in a regular base with articles around watch brands, history and new launches. Follow Arsène on his social networks.