Christiaan van der Klaauw, Satellite du Monde,

This article will be somewhat unusual because the watchmaker is a virtual unknown, and his work is so beautiful that I am going to take the opportunity to briefly introduce each of his models, as well as the sample which I own. According to his site, Christiaan van der Klaauw has been a clockmaker since 1974, and in the mid-nineties began producing his exceptional watches, eventually becoming a member of the AHCI (Horological Academy of Independent Creators), an indication of the respect he commands among his watchmaking peers. His watches are all mechanically based upon the rather familiar ETA 2824-2 and Valjoux 7750/1 movements, but they are obviously highly elaborated and distinctively, perhaps outrageously decorated (except for mine, more on this later). Yet remarkably, it is on the obverse side of his watches that his artistry truly shines. His current lineup includes

The Ariadne:

Click the pictures for even larger!

a triple-date/moonphase chronograph with additional 24-hour indication, using a V7751 movement.

The Eclips:

which in addition to the time indicates the date and month, the relative position of the sun and the moon, and in co-ordination with this, and in a separate dial, the possibility of an eclipse, a distinctive complication for which is provided a most lucid explanation.

The Planetarium:

which also indicates the time, month and date, and shows the heliocentic arrangement of the 6 inner planets, including their relative positions in the zodiac.

The Millennium and Astrolabium:

a chronograph which includes time and date, moonphase and sun and moon position, (Millennium), and for the Astrolabium, hour and minute, positions of the sun and moon relative to each other, new moon (sun and moon superimposed) and full moon (opposite each other), as well as eclipse (when the dragon hand is also in line, during new moon (solar eclipse) or full moon (lunar eclipse)). Eccentric with the rotating months is a ring which indicates the Zodiac, in conjunction with the sun hand. (I owe a great debt to Lord Arran for his lucid explanation of the Astrolabium concept).

Finally, there are the two current versions of the Satellite du Monde, without and with chronograph:

The special complication of this watch (which no longer seems quite so complicated to me...) I will explore in a moment, but to complete the display of Klaauw's work, here are samples of his finished ETA movements:

(all the above pictures are from the Christiaan van der Klaauw site)

My watch, apparently a prototype version of the Satellite du Monde (it is labeled #3), unlike the production watches is cased in stainless steel and carries a cylindrical rather than onion-style crown. It also lacks the baroque decorations of the movement parts, although it is thoroughly gilded, for some reason. These things do not bother me especially, as it is the interesting complication and the beautiful dial which attracted me to this watch initially, and these have not changed, as far as I know. The special function, which by now you can most likely guess, is that the SduM displays the postitions of the sun and the moon, world-time fashion. On my watch, the hour hand and the sun indicator are permanently linked, so that such niceties as adjusting for daylight savings time or travel are out. In fact, when acquired my watch displayed the sun directly over Rome when set to noon, so I had the outer dial ring rotated to indicate "high noon" in my time zone when such was the position of the hands. I am unable to determine if this shortcoming is still a part of the workings of this model, as I have never encountered another owner, and my (admittedly English) email to the company is as yet unanswered. Fortunately, I do not travel very much, so this lack of adaptabilty only intrudes half the year...

In the process of indicating the moon's west-to-east progress around the Earth, the sun indicator will pass the moon indicator every 29.5 days or so, and adjusting their relative position takes only a few minutes, if perhaps a lot of winding.

To determine the postions of the sun and moon I use a little utility program called "Home Planet"

written by Autodesk founder John Walker, and available for Windows OS at his fabulous site. Besides offering this highly developed and deceptively sophisticated bit of freeware, there are many additional goodies which justify the trip.

The SduM is 39mm diameter, and a thoroughly chunky 10.5mm thick. The lugs are a bit stubby and barely reach the bottom of the case, so it sits rather "high" and looks even larger than its actual size.

Please check out the rest of my Watch Articles and Pics

I hope you enjoyed this!
April 10, 2002

All content Copyright asserted 2003