In every field, there are things that are taken for granted. Often the reasons are either they are omnipresent, or they are already a household name, or both. In the watchmaking industry, such examples are endless. Spring bar is one, and a particular movement finishing is another. On the one hand, the history of watchmaking is long enough, on the other hand, it is due to its fundamentally incremental nature. When it comes to finishing the movement, there is nothing more common than ‘Côtes de Genève’. Geneva patterns, Geneva ripples, Geneva stripes, whatever you call them. Every imaginable price segment can be seen in different degrees of fine effects. However, when was the Geneva pattern first applied in the industry and why?
There are many reasons for the movement retouching: craftsmanship; purely for aesthetics; careful manufacture of natural products; and proud expression of product quality. The Geneva pattern seems purely for decoration (like the openwork and chamfering of the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Double Balance Skeleton), but this is not the case. When did the Geneva pattern come out, and why? After so many years of imagination, I finally realized that it might be a good idea to ask a senior expert who knows the answer. While visiting the Audemars Piguet Renaud & Papi watch factory, the author asked GiulioPapi (one of the co-founders and one of the most important figures in the modern movement design and watchmaking industry) if he knew the origin story of the Geneva pattern. Unsurprisingly, he knew.
It turns out that the application of the Geneva pattern was originally a functional purpose, designed to capture dust particles and prevent them from falling on the fine elements of the movement. ‘When you close the case,’ Giulio Papi explains, ‘air and dust particles are also enclosed inside.’ The texture of the Geneva pattern is to capture them, so the texture should not be too rough or too rough. smooth.
It is said that the engraving of the movement used to serve the same purpose. More than 100 years ago, the Geneva engravers went on strike. In order to avoid meeting their requirements, the watch factory developed a process that can perform the same practical function, the Geneva pattern. Presumably, this caused the Geneva watch factory to fire all engravers in less than a week. Therefore, the invention of the Geneva pattern, whether believe or not, was to undermine the strike.
Giulio Papi claims that he heard this statement from a watchmaking school mentor and has never seen a real written account, so it may also be a fiction, like a city with a long history in many long-established industries. legend. The time frame mentioned in the story sounds correct. In the mid-19th century, the fish scale pattern was used to refinish the movement, so the Geneva pattern may naturally evolve from it. In either case, what was originally seen as a purely decorative element may not only be pleasing to the eye at first, but also help the watch operate reliably and make a batch of rebellious craftsmen lose their jobs. The story itself is interesting.