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Interview: Jean-Francois Mojon, Technical Director at Cyrus and Founder of Chronode

Jean-Francois Mojon

Look at the wide range of watch models represented in the picture below: it is just a selection of some of the timepieces whose movements have been designed by one of the most talented and ingenious watchmakers of our times, Jean-Francois Mojon.

From to bottom, left to right: Cyrus Klepcys Vertical Tourbillon, Cyrus Klepcys Moon, Czapek Quai des Bergues, Harry Winston Opus X, Hermès Arceau L’heure de la lune, HYT H1, MB&F Legacy Machine N.1, MB&F  Legacy Machine N.2, Urban Jürgensen Chronometer Detent Escapement P8 


Born in Switzerland in 1966 and grown up among the mountains of the Neuchâtel area, Jean-Francois studied micromechanical engineering and earned a degree in business economics. After hist first experiences in the liquid crystals sector, he joined IWC in 1995 where he headed the quality control and research and development departments having the possibility to design and conceive new calibres and complications.

In 2005, he founded his own company, Chronode SA, based in Le Locle and specialised in the creation of high-end mechanical movements for prestigious watch brands. In 2010, he was awarded as “best independent master watchmaker”  at the Grand Prix de la Haute Horlogerie of Geneva. Together with running Chronode, Mojon is the Technical Director at Cyrus Watches.

Jean-Francois Mojon

His projects demonstrate a unique capability to respect traditions while breaking conventions and innovating at the same time.

We recently had the opportunity to ask him a few questions and we are delighted to share his answers with out readers.


Time and WatchesWhen and how did your passion for watchmaking start?

Jean-Francois Mojon: My passion for watchmaking came gradually. By my father first who used to tell our family about his job as a watchmaker and his challenges linked to timekeeping precision. Then by my engineering studies which allowed me to discover watchmaking design and I immediately felt that this was my path.


Time and WatchesWhich achievement do you consider the first milestone in your watchmaking career?

Jean-Francois Mojon: One of the first milestone that marked my career was the conception of a mechanical movement with a 30-day power reserve  in the years 1998-1999. Even if this movement was never accomplished under this form, it was the starting point which made me realize that creativity supported by hard work and daring could be a source of success.


Time and WatchesYou worked at IWC for almost 10 years with important responsibilities. Can you tell us more about that period and what motivated you to leave such a prestigious brand and take the challenge of starting your own company Chronode ?

Jean-Francois Mojon: I had a great experience at IWC, running different roles, from the quality control to purchasing and product development. IWC is a brand rich in history with a production of technical timepieces with great attention to details. By its geographic position, IWC has also developed a strong corporate culture in which I immediately identified myself.

In 2005 favorable circumstances allowed me to start my own business driven with a great passion for innovation. That time was the right time to launch my own activity: there was high demand for unconventional watches, growth on the markets and limited competition.


Time and WatchesAfter establishing Chronode SA in 2005, you started the collaboration with Cyrus in 2010. Did you feel the need to be involved in the creation of complete timepieces, rather than just their movements?

Jean-Francois Mojon: Chronode’s core business is and remains the development of mechanical movements and complications. When the first Cyrus watch was launched, we provided the complete service for the  creation of the timepiece according to the brand’s request. Today we continue to offer this service when the client asks for.


Time and WatchesI am a big fan of your Klepcys Vertical Tourbillon by Cyrus. Would you tell us more about the inspiration behind it?

Jean-Francois Mojon: The approach that led us to place the tourbillon in a vertical position is twofold: on one hand, the observation that the wristwatch is rather placed, for most of its time in the horizontal position and consequently the tourbillon mechanism produces its effect of compensating gravity when it is in vertical position. On the other hand, the search for harmony as consequence of the central position (for the first time) on the dial of the tourbillon cage which plays the role of axis of symmetry of the watch.

The Klepcys Vertical Skeleton Tourbillon by Cyrus

Pictures from the assembly line in the Le Locle workshop


Time and WatchesAre you also involved in the development of the aesthetics of Cyrus timepieces or do you leave this task to the design department?

Jean-Francois Mojon: The design of each new model is the result of a close  collaboration between the designer and the engineer. For the aesthetics of the Klepcys Vertical Tourbillon, our team and the Cyrus management worked very closely with the designer Benjamin Müller to achieve the final style. A style with a strong, unique and exclusive identity thanks to its central arc, inspired by the self-supporting bridge by Leonardo da Vinci, which highlights the tourbillon cage.

The profile of the central arched vertical bridge of the Cyrus Vertical Skeleton Tourbillon. This element blends with the lines of the case and emphasises the one-minute rotation of the tourbillon whose steel cage is made of 52 parts and has a total weight of just 0.706 grams!



Time and WatchesEvery decade or so is characterized by specific technology challenges (ultra-thin movements, adding complications, tourbillons, using new materials, et cetera).  Do you see a specific technology challenge in watchmaking for the new decade?

Jean-Francois Mojon: I wouldn't necessarily talk about new technologies, but trends. With the current challenges, it is difficult to imagine a leading trend for the next decade. However, I believe that the trend for watches  with a small diameter in comparison to the bigger cases of the past decade will continue. On the other hand, the general quality of the product will continue to improve. We can also think that the chronograph function will be the subject of interesting innovations.


Time and WatchesTechnically speaking, which is the solution that you developed that you are more proud of?

Jean-Francois Mojon: Each development is the result of the work and efforts of a team. One of the outstanding solutions has certainly been the planetary gear system developed for the Harry Winston Opus X. This principle opened a multitude of original display possibilities: it has also been used for the development of the Hermès “Arceau Heure de la Lune".

Created in collaboration with Jean-Francois Mojon in 2010, the Harry Winston Opus X features a rotating platform supporting three time modules for hours, minutes and seconds, with 24 hour indication and linear power reserve. Below, the Hermès Arceau L’heure de la lune.



Time and WatchesWhich is the technical solution or invention of other watchmakers that you would like to have invented it?

Jean-Francois Mojon: I think that the UR-SATELLITE display mechanism by Urwerk is a great example of an innovative display function with high perceived value.


COMMENTS

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Time and Watches | The watch blog: Interview: Jean-Francois Mojon, Technical Director at Cyrus and Founder of Chronode
Interview: Jean-Francois Mojon, Technical Director at Cyrus and Founder of Chronode
Our Interview with Jean-Francois Mojon. Founder of Chronode, Techical Director of Cyrus. Cyrus Czapek, Harry Winston Opus X, Hermès, HYT, MB&F, Urban Jürgensen
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Time and Watches | The watch blog
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