The creator of the award-winning and intriguing Enignum chair is no stranger to demanding commissions. Joseph Walsh, who founded his studio in Cork, Ireland, in 1999, is renowned for his bespoke and limited edition pieces, and for overcoming complex technical challenges in fabrication. This surreal cabinet—a watch collector’s personal museum in miniature—was commissioned to house an anthology of timepieces collected over time and over generations by his family.
Called “A Piece Of Time,” the cabinet took three years and the collaboration of several master craftspersons to complete, with Remi Behr serving as lead master maker. “My idea for this commission was to create a piece which would be a joy to engage with and would expand the experience of collecting the timepieces, a way to enjoy the collection, the story of each watch and their relationship to each other,” says Walsh.
At first glance, the cabinet looks like a futuristic pod, armoured and structured to fit into a larger object. Viewed in isolation, each section is like the frame of an expensive ring, ready for its jewel companion. But the shape is a homage to warping time, the concept of which is generously acknowledged in this unique object—as much in its creation and development as in what it holds inside its cavity.
The cabinet has been crafted from fumed oak, and is internally composed of 108 segments. To access the watches, an original and intricate locking mechanism has been created, designed in the spirit of a complication. Each part certainly looks as complex and ensures that the cabinet is—at its very essence—horologic.
Renowned watch expert and writer Thomas Wanka has written, “How could time’s value possibly be measured? This situation also prevails when it comes to measuring time: one man is satisfied by glancing at the digital display on his microwave oven, whilst another experiences pleasure each morning when he chooses which wristwatch from his collection to wear that day. A person who owns one or more mechanical watches surely doesn’t need to justify his passion. After all, the investments usually prove well worthwhile.” That succinctly sums up the importance of this cabinet to a collector.
Walsh’s signature Enignum seat is integrated with the cabinet, with the seating arrangement surrounding the vessel. The seat is made of ash, ebonised black with leather upholstery. “My hope was to create a vessel form that would contain the watches, a sculpture, with a seat connected to it, so that one could spend time enjoying the watches. The form of the seat wraps around the user but also the vessel, the compartments within the vessel pivot open with a fluid movement that follows the spirit of the piece’s form,” he says.
The interior compartments of the cabinet are carved in pear wood and swathed in suede, with the inner mechanism made of 700 individually-crafted bronze parts. When seen together, they give the impression of looking inside a watch’s caseback. Each compartment swings or pivots open on its axis, and then falls back into place, like the mechanical calibres that form the heart of a timepiece.
Walsh and his team decoded the form and the function at conception—and this allowed them to ensure that each watch would be safely ensconced, despite variations in case sizes and straps. It also ensured a seamless fit for the parts. “I believe we can enhance the quality of our lives by surrounding ourselves with objects that possess values beyond their function or aesthetic, that possess intelligence in their creation, that one can interact with and that will stimulate senses each and every time one engages with them,” says Walsh.
This is in keeping with Wanka’s belief that “only uniqueness creates genuine value,” as watchmaking is a limited resource. “Personal taste and individualised advice from an expert on-site cannot determine the price of precious time, but can influence the value we ascribe to it,” concludes Wanka. The same principle applies to Walsh’s unique cabinet.
When it comes to design, these watches turned a lot of collectors’ heads.
This unique timepiece is handmade in Germany, and quaintly tells time in words. It comes in a water-resistant stainless steel case, with 20 compatible languages.
HYT H3 TITANIUM & PLATINUM
With its patented hydro-mechanics technology, this watch is revolutionary, water-resistant to 30 metres and has a unique movement with retrograde functions and a stunning dial.
MB&F HM4 ThunderbolT
Don’t let the aviation-inspired case fool you, this watch is tough. It has 311 specially-designed components in a stunning and visually-delightful grade 5 titanium and sapphire crystal case.
Cabestan Winch Tourbillon Vertical
Inspired by the simple nautical capstan, the super-precise mechanism of this funky watch has 910 components that are clearly visible under twin sapphire crystals.
The UR-CC1 brings together timeless watchmaking and linear auto accents. Its white gold/titanium case houses a self-winding calibre, with nickel, ARCAP alloy and beryllium bronze parts.
Romain Jerome Pac-Man Level II 40 Dark Ghosts
Celebrating the iconic game in pixellated glory, the intricate 3D dial has glow-in-the-dark ghosts, cased in a black PVD-coated steel case. It also houses meticulous horologic innovation.
Xeric Black/Gold Halograph Automatic
Brought to life by Kickstarter, this mechanical watch houses a variety of complications in its surgical grade stainless steel case, and it is powered by the kinetic movement of your wrist.
Diesel DZ7365 Double Automatic Leather
Though not from a traditional watch “maison,” this limited-edition watch has two automatic movements, with looks that can match the elite. Its tourbillon cousins are also excellent.