Only Watch: charity unites Thomas Mercer and Monaco

Only Watch: charity unites Thomas Mercer and Monaco

Thanks to the precision of its marine chronometers, the British army was one step ahead finding its way at sea. The brand Thomas Mercer revives that part of history for a good cause.

Once upon an era in the history of horology England led the way thanks to timepieces so precise they made it possible to determine longitude at sea, where others had to read the stars and make complex calculations in order to determine their position accurately. That, of course, took too long and required a deep knowledge of the sextant, which in turn meant that shipwrecks and collisions were not scarce. Suddenly, using a remarkably accurate stopwatch on board solved the deadly issue and at the same time ensured explorers thirsty of victories feats that, until then, had been unheard of. Very few watchmakers have had missions with such level of importance. Thomas Mercer was one of them: he manufactured marine chronometers.

From epic origins to modern adventure

Thomas Mercer was established in London in 1858. His works, which had their entries at the royal court, are still in horology or navy museums. In 2012, the name of this great chronometer-maker was revived. His descendants even partake in the adventure which, at the same time, brings back the golden years for the English in a sector whose epicenter would later move naturally to Switzerland. This was due to mass production needs, so great was the demand - and not only from Great Britain. At the production levels required, Swiss competences in terms of controlled industrialization, new inventions and neat production were needed.

Thomas Mercer Brittanica for Only WatchThomas Mercer Brittanica for Only Watch

Thus, over 150 years later, with the revival of their history, these forgotten pieces have found devoted ambassadors as well as new collectors. The Marine chronometer is, historically, the missing link between turret clocks and pocket watches. The former  were later brought into indoors comfort in the form of pendulum clocks whilst the latter ended up being worn on everyone’s wrists, as miniaturization gradually gained ground.

Obviously, reviving parts whose size is much larger than what master watchmakers are used to today, with their magnifying glasses, their knowledge and their complications, is always a challenge. It is about a new conquest which the Thomas Mercer brand has been working on for three years now, while attending watchmaking exhibitions like the unmissable British QP Salon and the global Baselworld.  They have decided to go about it, rather than by reproducing identical ancient pieces, by using the techniques and materials that have been mastered nowadays. This, of course, still favoring the most extreme sophistication and manual skills as well as resolutely innovative modernity. Whilst nowadays there are only a handful of followers, their means largely exceed their poor number. And for good reason.

Brittanica, white leather and blue blood

The newcomer’s creations include an ultra complex and absolutely incredible piece that illustrates the brand’s wide range of know-how –we will come to it later. Apart from that, though, Thomas Mercer is preparing to market Brittanica, a marine chronometer whose design was entrusted to well-known British furniture designer Jake Phipps.

Thomas Mercer Brittanica for Only WatchAlessandro Quintavalle, Thomas Mercer CEO showcases the Brittanica unique piece

Phipps is an expert in geometrical finishes as a result of his fascination for mineral crystals. He has created here an elegant and refined piece of furniture. The watch’s case has the shape of an octagon and it is like a white cabinet, leather-coated with Foglizzo – the same that lines the interior of the most luxurious yatchs. Its metallic structure is made of polished 316 L stainless steel. It offers the extra pure crystals a certain transparency on some surfaces that allows for the mechanism to be visible. The white and the blue blend harmonisouly. 

The caliber and its movements are visible on all sides. It is a mechanic construction named TM0802 and equipped with an eight-day power reserve, which is in accordance with the performances dear to Thomas Mercer and his stopwatches. Its transmission system can be compared to a chain-fusee, with a detent escapement balance-spring that acts like a particularly reliable gearbox when it comes to torque streadiness and to balancing transmitted energies.  Its frequency is14,400 vibrations per hour and a regulating screw refines its search for precision. Certain components are made of Invar alloy ­– a reference in the world of horology ­– and the piece resists temperature variations and hydrometrical variances.

Thomas Mercer Brittanica Only Watch 2015The dial represents the celestial map from Geneva's POV on the very date and time of the auction

Thus, over 150 years later, with the revival of their history, these forgotten pieces have found devoted ambassadors as well as new collectors. The Marine chronometer is, historically, the missing link between turret clocks and pocket watches. The former  were later brought into indoors comfort in the form of pendulum clocks whilst the latter ended up being worn on everyone’s wrists, as miniaturization gradually gained ground.

The first piece will be given away

For the first time and with his very first Brittanica, Thomas Mercer will take part in 2015’s Only Watch, the most unmissable and most newsworthy of all horology auction sales.  The biennial charity event shocases some fifty unique pieces donated by the cream of brands of excellence to the Monegasque Association that fights against Duchenne muscular distrophy. This auto-immune disorder is so rare it does not raise enough of the pharmaceutical giants' interest to invest in research.  Hence, every two years, under the noble patronage of its Reigning Prince, the Principality unrolls a red carpet with high-added media value to the watchmaking brands offering in turn their unique pieces for sale.  Thomas Mercer, with a renewed history and an altruism that carries in its DNA both sea spray and the trails of luxurious yachts, could not help but to reach land one day on these shores. And even if the sale will take place in Geneva – this is a first – the cheers reserved at its arrival in the old harbor will indeed be heard from Montecarlo.

Thomas Mercer Brittanica for Only Watch 2015The case of the Thomas Mercer Brittanica for Only Watch is made with stainless steel and fine white leather

Pictures credits: Thomas Mercer and Only Watch Charity Auction