When speaking of handcrafted watches and traditional watchmakers, most people will instantly think of the Swiss watch industry as a result of the continuous fancy and emotional image campaigns by luxury watch brands. Watchmaking in the French-speaking part of Switzerland truly has a long tradition and it goes back some centuries when repairing and eventually making watches used to be the pastime of farmers during the winter months. It was considered as an additional source of income, when working on the fields was not possible due to the cold weather and short days.
In Hungary, the profession of clock master used to be fairly common during the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Although, as with many things under the communist era, this métier was not among the ones to be promoted and unfortunately, Hungarian clock- and watchmakers started to disappear as well as their focus was rather on repairing watches than actually making them. Before the tradition completely disappears from the Hungarian landscape, Aaron Becsei, a third generation descendant of a watchmaker dynasty might be able to turn this negative trend around and could be the perfect role model for young generations, as his story and career path is truly fascinating as much as it is inspiring.
In Aaron’s family the joy and enthusiasm for the watchmaking profession originates from his grandfather and he passed down every single trick and trade secret to the next generations. In his childhood years, Aaron spent a lot of time in his father’s atelier and visited watch museums abroad on a regular basis after the iron curtain fell at the end of the 1980s. He attended a specialized high school for watchmakers, however the scope of this profession was mainly limited to repairing old timepieces or changing batteries in the newer, ‘technologically more advanced’ watches.
Obviously, there were times when some spare parts were not available anymore on the market to fully repair older, almost antique pieces and Aaron had to make these missing spare parts himself. One day he connected the dots and the idea emerged: ‘if I can make the spare parts myself – I could make an entire watch on my own, too‘. In 2003 he finished his first breathtakingly beautiful clock – the Miniature Double Pendule Zappler – with the approximate size of a Euro coin that he handcrafted and developed based on his very own design. Shortly after this, Aaron presented his first Tourbillon table clock with a moon phase calendar, wind up indicator, thermometer and a world time function at the Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Fair in Basel, Switzerland, which catapulted him into the exclusive international circle of independent and well-respected watchmakers.
As a logical consequence of Aaron’s distinguished family tradition in watchmaking as well as his studies in Mechanical Engineering at the College of Technical Sciences in Budapest, the family father of two founded his own label – Bexei Watches Company – and in 2008 he launched his first wrist watch that is a combination of highest level of engineering and delicate art: the PRIMUS, a triple axis tourbillon mechanism, with an extremely complicated and unique movement that worldwide only very few watchmakers manage to complete, if at all. It comes without the usual ball-bearings but using jewel bearings only – a unique system patented by Aaron Becsei to provide an ultra-precise rate, no matter how the watch is positioned. Using exclusively synthetic ruby jewel bearings, the tourbillon’s movement is not only highly complicated but absolutely mesmerising to marvel at. Production of this model is limited to nine pieces.
As a recognition of his unique know-how and excellent craftsmanship, in 2009 Aaron was admitted to the noble circle of Independent Watchmakers Association – Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI) – as a permanent member that currently counts only 32 independent watchmakers worldwide. In his private atelier located on the Buda side of the Hungarian capital, Aaron makes every watch on his own by hand throughout the entire production phase – including the movements – that allows him to manufacture 5-10 pieces a year. These watches are usually collector pieces fully customized to his client’s specifications and they will probably be treasured for generations to come.
Despite the overwhelming success, international fame and long waiting lists with already placed orders, Aaron has managed to grow his label and added new timepieces by having developed the Dignitas collection that consists of the models Pure, Power Reserve, and Tourbillon Diagonal.
In today’s world, when a substantial part of so-called luxury goods literally fall off the assembly lines in large quantities at distant locations far and away from the brands’ headquarters, Hubert de Givenchy’s quote “Luxury is in each detail” could not be more relevant. As only a handful of craftsmen – similar to Aaron – keep the true meaning of exclusivity alive and assure the discretion, precision, devotion, elegance and passion towards their professions and their highly valued clients.
Watchmaking – a very emotional sector with a mystical dream world built around it – keeps on fascinating people, at the core which we always hope to find the craftsman who refuses to make any compromises and always pushes the boundaries even further. Aaron, the worldwide acknowledged and sought-after Hungarian watchmaker, definitely embodies this vision who we can be very proud of, along with his remarkable accomplishments.
Source of images: courtesy of Bexei Watches Company.