A conversation in May 2012 by Jessica
The Foundation de la Haute Horlogerie (FHH) recently hosted a cocktail reception to launch “The Mastery of Time” by French author Dominique Fléchon, an historian and expert in antiquarian horology. The 456-page tome divides the major breakthroughs in watchmaking in six thoroughly researched chapters. During the book signing, and with the assistance of his translator, the author shared his thoughts about his latest project.
Dominique Fléchon author of ‘The Mastery of Time’
TimeZone (TZ): It’s a pleasure to meet you. Having read several of your books, it seems ‘The Mastery of Time’ is your opus. How long did it take to write the book?
Dominique Fléchon (DF): Thank you. Yes, it’s a big story. The fundamental parallel between human progress and time-measuring progress, this was no small undertaking. It is the result of six years of research.
TZ: Sounds like a tremendous effort.
DF: No other work has been published on the topic since the 1950s.
TZ: Although it’s newly launched in the US, I understand that ‘Mastery’ has already been cited in American proceedings as a reference.
DF: I’m not surprised at all. Since its publication, I’ve learned that it was used as a reference in legal proceedings in Geneva. It has been well received by all accounts.
TZ: And this is not merely a history book or treatise. There is a philosophical theme about humankind in relationship to the concept of ‘time’ itself. Is this right?
DF: Definitely, yes. It’s a story of where do we come from and where are we going. In the first chapter, we begin at a point where time measurement is simply consciousness of a determined moment of the day. Then we see humankind’s progress and the unfolding of civilisation. Since the first civilisations were agricultural, time measurement is with non-mechanical tools; astronomical devices that rely upon celestial bodies such as the sun or moon. Then we see a succession of scientific discovery and invention of time devices that sometimes directly help human progress.
TZ: It’s about us trying to make sense of the world?
DF: [laughs] Yes, exactly.
TZ: So time measurement began with the origins of humankind?
DF: We can say that time measuring began to exist at the moment humankind became aware that it had a past, present and future. And so yes, the history of horology begins with the origins of humankind.
TZ: Fascinating. Thank you very much Dominique. We have a TimeZone tradition to enquire about the timepiece being worn. May I ask what are you wearing?
DF: Yes, when the FHH was founded, we had these pendant watches made. I often wear mine on my lapel. And I am also wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso chronograph.
Dominique Fléchon signing ‘Mastery of Time’ at a cocktail reception at Adour Alain Ducasse
The FHH pendant watch styled after a vintage cyclists watch
Dominique Fléchon shares a TimeZone wristshot of his JLC Reverso Chronograph Retrograde
About the book
Mastery of Time
Dominique Fléchon, Author
Franco Cologni, Foreward
Publisher: Flammarion (January 10, 2012)
456 pages with 400 colour illustrations
Printed in Italy
List price $100.00