Prix Gaïa 1999 – Derek Pratt. Craftsmanship-Creation category
He was awarded for his specialization in the repair of iron clocks and complicated watches as well as in the design of complicated pieces.
- Repair of ancient iron clocks and complicated watches.
- Restoration of ancient Urban Jürgensen & Fils watches.
- Collaboration of Urban Jürgensen to design a line of tourbillon watches.
Derek Pratt was fascinated with the watchmaking universe even as a child. It thus came as no surpise when he chose to attend the National College of Horology in London. While still studying, he did his watchmaker's apprenticeship at Smith & Sons.
At 21 years old in 1959, he started working at A & M Fell in London as manager of watch developments. After that, he moved to Felmada SA in Switzerland and worked on research studies about on-board watches for black boxes in aircrafts before he decided to move to the country permanently in 1965.
The laureates : Derek Pratt, Estelle Fallet and Gabriel Feuvrier
The following year, his career took a different path when he was hired by Aprova SA (today renamed SPT Roth AG) in Lyss to develop and produce micro-soldering tools (capillaries) in the then-booming industry of semi-conductors.
However, in 1972, he returned to watchmaking and started his own company, specializing in the restoration of ancient iron clocks and complicated watches. In the mid-1970s, he started the restoration of ancient watches for Urban Jürgensen & Fils. He also collaborated with the company to assemble a collection of tourbillon watches. The unique pieces featured a constant device that was integrated into the frame. The force of the impulses could easily be adjusted to set the balance's amplitude with accuracy and thus enable inertia problems to be eliminated. The first watch of this type was made in 1981.
Other models followed and in 1997, they developed a new escapement that did not require the use of oil for tourbillons.
One of Pratt's particular skills was that he single-handedly produced all the components of his watches - from guilloché dials to crowns, special ruby-paved escapements and some case glasses. In addition to his multiple creations, Pratt also wrote articles about watchmaking and often gave lectures, mostly in England. In 1979 and 1982 respectively, he became Freeman and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers in London. Ten years later, he won the silver medal of the British Horological Institute.
From 1999, Pratt continued his research and produced new watches.
Dial of the tourbillon watch produced by Derek Pratt in 1997 on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Abraham-Louis Breguet's birthday. The two sector-shaped upper dials indicate power reserve on the right and temperature on the left.