MUSEUM PARTNERS WITH WORLD-FAMOUS WATCH PRODUCER FOR MILLION DOLLAR FUNDRAISING PROJECT
The National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania recently partnered with the internationally-renowned Swiss company Gallet Watch Group to produce a special edition of one of the most famous watches ever made, with a significant portion of the proceeds set to benefit the National Watch & Clock Museum.
Named the Museum Edition Flight Officer, the watch is the 21st century edition of a classic timepiece. The new watch features a state-of-the-art movement that pushes the limits of what can be accomplished with mechanics. National Watch & Clock Museum Director Noel Poirier said he is excited about the project because of the watch’s historical significance. “We joined the project because we realized this watch has great historical significance, and also because it represents to the modern watch enthusiasts the need to preserve the history of timekeeping.
“Plus, it’s a beautiful watch,” Poirier says.
The Museum, in 2008, presented an exhibit of Presidential Timepieces among which was President Harry S. Truman’s Gallet Flight Officer wristwatch. While conducting research for the exhibit, and fielding requests from media for information on the objects in the exhibit, the Museum contacted Gallet to learn more about the watch. This seemingly routine process led to a unique partnership between Gallet Watch Group and the National Watch & Clock Museum.
“We were really interested in learning as much as we could about President Truman’s watch” states Poirier , “We never anticipated, or quite frankly knew of, Gallet’s long history of supporting museums like ours.”
The historic Gallet Flight Officer chronograph, first introduced for the use of professional aviators and military pilots in 1938, has remained a favorite of both military and civilian flyers for decades. It was the world’s first wristwatch to combine time zone calculations with elapsed time recording capabilities. The watch was a well-known favorite of Truman, who recommended it as a requirement for pilots of the US Army Air forces during WWII, and who personally wore a Gallet Flight Officer during his term as America’s 33rd president.
During the 72 years since the watch made its debut, Gallet has continuously upgraded the Flight Officer with the most advanced technology available to the timekeeping arts. The very pinnacle of this evolution is expressed in the new “Museum Edition Flight Officer,” considered by many in the watch industry to be the most accurate and highly developed mechanical pilot’s watch ever made.
|Gallet CEO Walter Hediger (right) and Gallet Managing Director David Laurence (left) examine Gallet watches and archival material in the collection of the National Watch & Clock Museum, Columbia, PA.|
Gallet has a long history of supporting the preservation of the history, art, and science of timekeeping. The company provided funds in 1899 to build the renowned Museum of Watchmaking in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, and has maintained a 111 year tradition of supporting institutions that preserve the history and educate the public about the noble art of timekeeping.
Since first working with the National Watch & Clock Museum in 2008, Gallet has consistently supported the Museum’s exhibit schedule by providing financial assistance for other exhibits and projects. Gallet is raising the bar of its commitment to the Museum by providing this new, extraordinary timepiece in a limited edition as a direct benefit to the National Watch & Clock Museum.
The Museum Edition Flight Officer, powered by the Gallet’s in-house manufactured MultiChron “Duo-force” calibre G330, is the world’s first self-winding split rattrapante chronograph to be powered by twin mainsprings. Besides the extended duration of 72 hours between winds, this unique synthesis of features insures the highest level of chronometer accuracy, regardless of whether the watch is only utilized for telling the time, or when one or both timers are activated.
|The Gallet Museum Edition Flight Officer, being produced in limited numbers to benefit the National Watch & Clock Museum in Columbia, PA.|
As the ultimate pilot’s wristwatch, the Museum Edition Flight Officer is designed to provide the wearer with the ability to calculate the time across all 24 of the world’s time zones. The Museum Edition Flight Officer is also equipped with an extra large date feature and housed in a 42mm diameter case, water resistant to 100 meters or 328 feet, with screw down winding crown and screw-lock activation pushers. Each timepiece is painstakingly hand assembled, inspected, and tested numerous times throughout the assembly procedure. From start to finish, each Museum Edition Flight Officer requires numerous weeks of assembly, as well as the time involved in certification by the Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute (Contrôle Officiel Suisse des Chronomètres).
The Museum Series consists of a total of only 1050 examples, separated by case metal into five Individual edition groups. The first, or #1 watch, in each edition will remain within the collection of Gallet and the National Watch & Clock Museum. Available watches in each edition group will begin at number 2 and increase consecutively, based on the date of reservation, until all watches in each edition are sold.
Every Museum Edition Flight Officer will be beautifully engraved on the reverse with the Museum logo and the edition number. This edition number is also included on the accompanying official registration documents and Certificate of Authenticity.
Gallet & Co. traces its watchmaking roots to 1466 when Humbertus Gallet began making clocks under his family name. In 1826 Julien Gallet officially registed the company in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland with an emphasis in pocket watches. Since then, Gallet has gained the reputation as the “professional’s watch.” Various Gallet editions have been popular with people in the medical profession, nautical, aviation, race car driving, and other fields where critical timing is needed. During the 19th and early 20th century Gallet watches were popular among railroad workers, and it was a recommended timepiece at several railroad companies. Gallet and Co. is credited with introducing the first wrist-worn watch made for mass distribution. In 1895 these first "wristwatches" were introduced to the American consumer. However, the concept did not gain popularity due to public perception “as being too unusual for women and too feminine for men.”
National Watch & Clock Museum Director Noel B. Poirier (right) presents Gallet CEO Walter Hedigar with a framed print of the National Watch & Clock Museum during the opening event for the recent Grand Complications: Art of the Watchmaker exhibit at the National Watch & Clock Museum, Columbia, PA.
All unsold examples were returned to Switzerland for disassembly. Wristwatches did not become popular until WWI when Allied Forces realized the innovation allowed soldiers to tell time in combat situations. Since then Gallet has supplied many of the wristwatches worn by United States and Allied servicemen.
Gallet also enjoys a reputation as a leading timepiece chosen by other professionals. Gallet editions have been designed for aviators, doctors, nurses, yachtsmen, and auto-racing professionals. David Laurence, Gallet’s chief of operations and head of North American operations, says, “Gallet is ‘the real thing,’ not pretentious or frivolous in its design and features. We follow a strict adherence to the principle of form following function. The Museum Edition Flight Officer is understated, utilitarian, and incorporates the very best of what is needed for the professional user.
“Gallet watches are designed to professional standards. It’s the watch worn by professionals, and people who appreciate professionalism,” Laurence said.
The Museum Edition Flight Officer is the ultimate auto racing watch as well as the ultimate pilot’s watch. The Museum Edition Flight Officer’s G330 movement was originally engineered by Gallet to power a new auto racing chronograph. This is why the watch is equipped with the rattrapante (split chronograph) feature. Besides its application as the ultimate pilot’s watch, the Museum Edition Flight Officer is an ultimate watch for auto racing, especially for long distance races that cross multiple time zones.
“This watch is meant for flying across the skies or down the track,” Laurence says.