Prix Gaïa 1998 – Yves Droz and Joseph Flores. History-Research category
Watchmaker and historian J. Flores and watch expert Y. Droz won a joint award for their exceptional career path which led them to open the Musée de la Montre in Villers-le-Lac in 1997 and where their extensive knowledge was illustrated through the superb collection they gathered. Their shared affinity tied them together in the adventure of the Horlogerie Ancienne magazine of the French Horological Association (A.F.A.H.A.) for which they were co-writers for several years.
Yves Droz: hotel manager, collector
Joseph Flores: watchmaker
- Since 1976, co-writers of the Horlogerie Ancienne magazine published by the French Horological Association (A.F.A.H.A.)
- Leroy n°01: the world's most complicated watch, Besançon, 1986.
- Les Heures révolutionnaires, Besançon, 1989.
- Creation of Musée de la Montre in Villers-le-Lac.
Both Yves Droz and Joseph Flores were born in Villers-Le-Lac. Droz undertook his apprenticeship at the hotel school in Nice before he returned to his native village in 1954. An only child, he inherited the family company, Hôtel de France of which he decided to renovate and redecorate one room.
In an endeavor to please his watch-enthused clients, the new decoration was to exhibit antique watches. At that moment, Droz felt the first stirrings of a passion for collecting watch pieces. His thirst for discovering new things and his curiosity slowly materialized in a will to offer visitors the history of watches from the 16th century to the present day.
The laureates : Yves Droz, Joseph Flores, Philippe Dufour and Luigi Macaluso
Joseph Flores took an interest in watchmaking on his father's bench at the tender age of five. He owes his father his skills but most especially his passion and the motivation and willingness to learn and understand watch mechanisms. From 1947 to 1960, he worked in the Bervil establishments in Villers-le-Lac, a small company of which he was appointed head of production. In 1971, he joined Rolex in Le Locle where he continued the rest of his professional career until he retired at the age of 64 in 1996.
In parallel to his professional life, Flores was interested in everything that had to do with watchmaking history, a subject in which he became an expert.
A shared journey
The complementarity between the two watch enthusiasts was such that they eventually crossed paths. Flores is a technician with the skills to dissect a watch and a historian of techniques while Droz is an expert who put together a historical collection. From 1976, they co-wrote several articles and books for the Horlogerie Ancienne magazine of the French Horological Association (A.F.A.H.A.). Among them are "Les Heures révolutionnaires, published in 1989, or even “Montre à une roue ou les complications du simplifié” (1998).
In 1997, they opened the Musée de la Montre in Villers-le-Lac. The museum traces the history of watches from its origins to the present day and it took 40 years of fascinating research to put said history together.
However, they took different paths after they won the Prix Gaïa. Yves Droz mainly focused on the museum and exhibitions while Joseph Flores returned to the Horlogerie Ancienne magazine and started publishing articles and books about horology with a particular emphasis on the development of new elements in self-winding “rotor” watches.