Independent watchmaker Crayon was created a few years ago by Remi Maillot. In addition to his behind-the-scenes development for other brands, Crayon made a remarkable debut with the mind-bogglingly complex Everywhere, the first mechanical watch capable of calculating sunrise and sunset times anywhere in the world. Crayon received well-deserved recognition at GPHG 2018 with this impressive world-first, Innovation Prize. Maillot sits at an interesting crossroads in watchmaking. His watches are classic and very modern and innovative at the same time. During a visit to Crayon’s new facilities in Neuchâtel, we sat down to speak with the independent watchmaker to better understand his work.
Xavier Markle, Monochrome – How did you get hooked on watchmaking?
Remy Maillot, Crayon Watches – I have always been interested in building and designing mechanisms. My mother is an associate mathematics teacher and my father is a microtechnology engineer, working at the Swiss Laboratory of Horological Research in Neuchâtel.
I naturally began studies in engineering and microtechnology at Le Local University of Applied Sciences, where I specialized in movement and complexity design. In addition to fascinating engineering, I find artistic elements that come together in a fascinating way. I fell in love. I ended my studies with an internship at Wachter Manufacture in Fleurier.
Did you start your career with Cartier?
I started with Cartier in 2008. At that time Cartier was creating its technical office in La Chaux-de-Fonds to develop its own movements and enter the production of haute horlogerie and Poincon de Genève watches. I worked as a movement design engineer at Creation. I designed the most complicated movements that Cartier has created in their fine watchmaking collection.
Later, I am also an expert in technical project management and movement building.
How did you decide to work on your own and develop your own projects?
I have always dreamed of being independent in my work. After developing my skills at Cartier, I am ready to take on new challenges. I started Crayon in 2013 and I offer services in movement engineering and prototype adjustment. I have worked for large luxury groups and independent watchmakers. During that time, I was constantly thinking of new mechanisms I could use to collaborate or sell to others. When I had the idea and found a technical solution to the Universal Sunrise Sunset, I decided not to sell it but to build my own watch with it.
How was the Crayon Everywhere concept conceived?
This brings us back to personal experience. On my first vacation with my wife, I invited her to come with me to snorkel and free dive at sunrise on the Costa Brava, Spain. I explained to her that sunrise is the perfect time as the fish are still active at night and start to emerge during the day. To go there we have to get up early in the night because we need time to go to the shore, bring material and get ready. So we left for the night. After getting ready for shore, the sunrise was still to come. My wife remembers waiting for almost an hour, staring at the horizon as the sun rose over the ocean. From this experience, I realized that it would be useful if a watch could show the time of sunrise and sunset at any location.
Initially, I thought it was impossible, but after years I studied it and found technical solutions to create this mechanical calculator.
By following Everywhere, you have Crayon Anywhere, a somewhat simplified version of the concept. What were the reasons that led to this experiment?
After deliveries everywhere, I learned from my customers’ feedback. I realized that there is a lot of focus on engineering everywhere. The immense complexity of the movement forced me to create a very compact movement for the watch to be wearable (42mm diameter, 12mm height), but I would have liked to show more of the core mechanisms and use more space for the finishes. From this knowledge, I want to create a more mature and balanced product. Born Anywhere, it keeps the main function everywhere, and location change is a simple watchmaker adjustment. Attention is focused on ergonomics, wearability, clarity of dials and indications, as well as feelings of use through the crown, the feel and sound of the ratchet click during winding.
You got the Innovation Prize at GPHG 2018 everywhere. What does it mean to you and what has it changed?
The GPHG Innovation Watch Prize is the ultimate watchmaking engineer’s dream award. This is a significant milestone in the development of Crayon, which has only been a brand for a year in 2018. This recognition gave us tremendous visibility and gave us the credibility to further develop the brand.
What are the key steps in developing your brand? What are your next challenges?
The first step was clearly deciding to become independent. The key was to leave my comfort zone of working for a large company and create my own. My wife, who is my partner in the business, also played a vital role in the process.
The second big step was to create my own brand from a supplier. As mentioned, I always dreamed of being independent, but I also needed the freedom to create and decide from A to Z.
Finally, after successfully launching Anywhere, the last step was to start building our company by working with my wife and assembling our products in our living room, having a proper nest for the crayon and hiring 3 watchmakers and 2 others. decorators. Today the brand is a reality in the market and I am very happy and proud to start working with the best partners in the world.
The next challenge is to control our growth. Today we can sell much more than we can produce. As we don’t want to compromise on quality and finishes, unfortunately, we can’t cater to everyone’s wishes. Going too fast can be counterproductive in the long run.
For more information, please visit www.krayon.ch.