Time-Related Issues, Manfred Brassler, The Founding Mastermind Of MeisterSinger
Perhaps it’s because he plays piano that this industrial designer launched MeisterSinger, a brand directly inspired by the Bauhaus movement, with a musical name. Many times award-winning, the man tells Watchonista his story.
As few people know, he is first and foremost a collector of antique watches. While painting and drawing complete his artistic portrait, he was recognized in the 1990s for his watches, the superb quality of which was based on the purity of the design. Aesthetics that promote minimalism and claim to be at the pole positions in design awards. The brand was called WatchPeople.
The concept of the single hand
In 2001, after having given up his first watchmaking child, he launched the MeisterSinger brand at Baselworld. Of course, like any fan of watchmaking, and especially of Swiss watchmaking since a large part of its mechanical movements are Swiss Made - it does not make it its backdrop, it had to put itself in storytelling mode and find some historical root.
So, from the captain’s chair of his Volkswagen Westphalia and it is perhaps a little far-fetched, but he found the implacable way out: to develop his concept of a single-handed hand, which is already terribly strong, I think, he would first use the church bell dials as an example, which already, was without a second and then a third hand... It was imprecise, it was approximate, at the time they were not yet at the unit of the minute. After all, the inaccuracy of the time that goes by can even, on a metaphysical viewpoint, be transformed into a fashion concept. A fashion that, by capillary effect and thanks to a network of intercontinental retailers, can shine a light on the world watchmaking scene. A matter of time!
Interview with Manfred Brassler
Are you always on time?
Punctuality is a matter of courtesy. I always try to be there a little earlier. Behind this, there is also my need not to get under pressure without necessity.
Was there a time when you were late or early for something that allowed you to live better?
My train had a delay, and I was far too late for my interview. But it appeared that the HR manager was on the same train. For me, this was like a call to serenity. Perhaps this is the MeisterSinger perception of time: calm and relaxed, with a sense of proportion.
What was your longest day?
When my daughter Nina was born on December 24, 1985, I spent the night before and the one after the birth in the hospital without closing my eyes. Arrived at home to get some stuff for my wife, I couldn't get to take off my shoes anymore. I fell into bed and immediately into a deep sleep. In fact, my longest day was two days and two nights. But I wouldn't have missed a second of it.
Besides your own watch or timekeeper, what is the design that you consider the most timeless?
The design of the Porsche 911 and an IWC Portuguese. Both are committed to a constant basic idea, which can be varied like the melody of a piece of music. This is also the idea behind MeisterSinger's designs: variations of a classic, timeless basic theme.
What is a personal object that you would like to remove from the grip of time so that it will never deteriorate?
Avoid saying a watch as that would be too easy! I was there when my children were born. That was quite a challenge. But what I couldn't foresee was this incredibly dense atmosphere that came up. Despite the drama of the situation, everything was light and uplifting. As if this being brought a spark from another world with it. At that time, far from anything religious or spiritual, the thought was almost forced upon us that we could come from infinity and perhaps also return to it. But otherwise, I don't believe that any object will be imperishable.
What is the type of “chronophage” (someone or something that eats your precious time) that you fear the most?
Waiting times in doctor's consultancies and car dealerships, but thanks to my I-Pad they are not as annoying anymore.
If time could be written, what format would you prefer it to be in – a book, proverb, citation?
A remark by Thomas Mann about time: "Time is peace itself, and war is nothing but the wild spurning of time, its escape in senseless impatience.”
A South proverb says, “You have the hour, we have the time.” What do you think about this saying?
We at MeisterSinger stand for a decelerated perception of time in everyday life, where the minute is not so important.
What is your first memory that was related to a duration of time (either positive or negative)?
It was not until I was 12 that I began to play the piano. I had to practice on old out-of-tune instruments in the smoky side rooms of the restaurants of our small village. My desire to own a piano exceeded everything. When this wish finally came true, the waiting time from visiting the piano dealer to arriving after a few weeks seemed unbearably long to me. Probably the longest waiting time of my life! But in the end, a great passion grew out of it that continues to this day.
What are the moments in your life that should never end?
We are probably always happy when we consciously experience the moment without thinking about the future and the past at the same time. The moment is also the actual access to ourselves. The moment is our actual reality. We mostly forget it because our thoughts, these constant noises between our ears, distract us from it. And when sometimes despair comes over us, it is usually because we overthink about the past and the future.
How do you differentiate time from eternity?
On one hand, we live just 29,200 days when we turn 80 years old! Rarely are we aware of how limited our life is. It is precisely the limitations of our lifetime that make it so precious. On the other hand, time seems to be endless. Given the greatness and sublimity of this creation, both great and small, it would not be surprising if the infinite brevity of the moment and the infinity of time and the universe were two sides of the same coin.
What was your first watch?
My first watch was a Stowa I got for my confirmation, ready with a cream-coloured dial.
If you own several watches, what roles do they play in your life?
My parents had a grocery store. Food was always there. Nothing special for us children. That's how it is for me today with mechanical watches. They are simply there. This also applies to my work for MeisterSinger. First, the watches are created in my mind and later even physically, so that they always surround me.
What is the watch you would like to have the most?
I cannot say that I desire watches. Except for old historical clocks. Unique pieces and handmade best. Such jewels sometimes drive me crazy with enthusiasm. Especially when - like my Comtoise clocks - they still function correctly after 300 years.
What is your collection watch that you are most proud of, and why?
What is its relationship to time, in a few words? We build watches at MeisterSinger, which show the time like the first mechanical watches with only one hand. For me, the N°01 is still the watch with which everything began the actual Hero.
If you were deprived of your watch and had to put a personal object in the ground that would tell you the time (like the ancient sundials), what would it be?
I think I am close to the topic at MeisterSinger. After all, every year we sell around 10,000 single-handed watches inspired by the sundial…