Vianney Halter: 'The real value is to be independent'

06.12.2018
Vianney Halter has a unique way of mixing the classical watch aesthetics with the futuristic vibe. We caught up with the man behind some wildest and coolest designs in the industry to talk his main inspirations, love for music and a long gone supremacy of the Swiss Made trademark. 


Your designs are very authentic and easily recognized. What are your main inspirations?  

My inspirations are overall based on human exploration. Whether they are technologies of the past like XVIII century navigation instruments, Victorian age shapes and aesthetics, or even techniques from sci-fi. I also take inspiration from actual rocket science and space exploration. As for mesmerizing progresses, I was particularly touched by the complete sequencing of the human genome, and more recently by the first measurement of gravitational waves. Both breakthrough open new perspectives on what it is to be a human, and our place in the universe.  

How many personnel do you have and how is your everyday work organized? How many pieces do you produce annually?  

Eight persons currently work for me throughout the world. The everyday work is organized according to my residence in Dubai, my Swiss team, and my worldwide travels to meet customers. Around 10 watches per year are produced in my workshop.  

Do you make all the crucial design and engineering decisions solely or are you opened to the ideas of your team?  

Although I am the instigator for the decisions and the choices, I am definitely open to the ideas of the team. They are good advisors.  


What timepiece do you consider the landmark of your career and why? 

This would be the Antiqua perpetual calendar, as it was the starting point for my horological adventure. In fact, it led people to discover my work through its uniqueness.

You’ve collaborated with other brands, right? What project was the most technically challenging and why? 

Seven Masters for Goldpfeil in 2001, as is enabled me to develop and build my own automatic winding and complicated caliber, which I’ve never done before. I had to face some new challenges, and this experience taught me how to organize a serial production for 110-120 pieces. This was new for me, as I had previously made watches on a single unit basis. 

As an independent watchmaker what do you consider the most tempting aspect of being the part of bigger business and why? 

After 40 years spent working at the bench, I do not consider being a part of a bigger business anywhere near tempting. I understood that the real value was to keep being independent and free. Being part of a big company excludes independence and therefore creativity. 

What are your thoughts on a Swiss Made trademark?  

I consider the Swiss Made label to be a thing of the past, from a value standpoint. Nowadays it is possible to find products and know-how around the globe that are superior to what Switzerland produces. 


How has your everyday routine changed with all the new technologies? 

It has not really changed. I still spend most of my time working at the bench. However, I replaced pen and paper drawing board for my complication design by CAD software. 

What do you consider the greatest horological achievements of the last 20 years and why? 

I would say it is the first triple axis tourbillon by independent Swiss watchmaker Thomas Prescher. I considered it to be very inspiring. 

How far can classical watchmaking evolve still keeping the tradition alive? 

As for watchmaking, I draw the line between traditional and nontraditional when one timepiece uses technologies that cannot be mastered by a single person. 

What part of a watch mechanism are you currently most obsessed with and why?  

Nothing in particular. I actually value all the finishing processes and complications because they make a whole. Lately I tend to dedicate lots of attention to regulating organs and escapements. 


What would you do in the world where watches do not exist?  

My main passion is aviation. However, if watches didn’t exist, I would most likely dedicate my life to music.