Is a true Wooden mechanical watches by Valerii Danevych?
Ukrainian Valerii Danevych makes wood watches with actual wooden movements. “It’s a functional work of art.” This is a phrase that can sometimes be thrown around with reckless abandon – especially when it comes to our beloved watches. To be sure, mechanical watches – regardless of their vintage – are engineering marvels, given that they give us a miniature machine that tracks the passage of the day. We’ve recently caught wind of some mechanical watch designs that are very worthy of being called works of art – and functional ones at that.
Using wood from trees such as Australian Guaiacum, Bubinga, Birch, Bamboo, Canker, Walnut and many others, Valerii manages to create complicated timepieces, including some very small pocket watches and a wristwatch with a flying tourbillon and retrograde time indication. The selection of the type of wood is a tricky thing, as each one has different properties.
Just take a look at this little necklace-watch, whose movement and case only weigh 4 grams altogether. The innate delicacy becomes very apparent upon handling the watch. It feels almost too light for you to believe it actually works, but it does! All parts are meticulously crafted from multiple types of wood, carefully hand-selected by Valerii for their respective intended purposes in the timepiece. One of the other reasons it’s so incredibly light is its size of only 30mm.
The skeletonized movement is built with wood from hornbeam, apple, birch and bamboo; and, using no screws at all, it is then fitted into a case carved out of apple burl. The openworked front cover is decorated with a mother of pearl plaque, one of only three non-wooden parts (the others being the two springs, done in metal). The movement has about 20 hours of power. Surprisingly, fully wound it wouldn’t last a day with these figures. A small, decorated key is supplied so that the watch can be wound and set through the caseback.
The pinnacle of Valerii’s work is the Retrograde wristwatch, with a dual retrograde indicator and a flying tourbillon. The wristwatch contains only 4 metal parts and two sapphire crystals, but the rest is all wood. The entire watch is built using 8 different types of wood with 188 parts in total, 154 of them in the movement. The smallest wooden parts are a pinion no more than 0.9mm in diameter made of Crimean boxwood, and a bearing pin of Australian Guaiacum has a diameter of only 0.12mm. Guaiac is self-lubricating thus eliminating the need for horological oils. Guaiac was sometimes used in marine chronometers and pendulum clocks during the 18th century. Being very dense as well, it is used for various things even to this day – including croquet balls, police truncheons, mallets, and as a diamond powdered lap when cutting gems.
The three-dimensional dial of the Retrograde shows the retrograde minutes and hours between 12 and 4 o’clock and the flying tourbillon mechanism, which rotates once every 60 seconds, at 6 o’clock. The 36mm x 13mm movement holds 24 hours of power reserve, and is accurate within 2 to 3 minutes per day. A double snail-like wheel at 10 o’clock progressively pushes the retrograde hands forward. A plaque with Valerii’s name is placed between 7 and 9 o’clock, partly surrounding the tourbillon aperture and double snail-like gears. The backside of the movement is decorated with a partly skeletonized plate with floral designs and open worked bridges over the gear train.
The case of the Retrograde is 46mm wide and 18mm thick. Using wood only (except for the 4 small springs) results in a very lightweight watch, the likes of which other independents or manufacturers need extremely high-tech materials to achieve. The result is a watch that catches the eye, due to the various colors of wood, the size and the complicated movement inside. It will unlikely be a daily beater, but it is still a very wearable watch. The large, wooden links are attached to the case with wooden screws, and a wooden buckle.
First things first – yes, these are truly made of wood. But make no mistake – these are quite different from other wooden watches that have hit the market from companies like WeWood , Sprout , or assorted Kickstarter projects. Those other makes feature wooden cases (and sometimes bracelets), but the movement working away inside is the very familiar (and very non-wooden) quartz-driven type. For these watches from Valerii Danevych, every single piece (aside from the springs) in the watch is made from wood.