Kim Djapri and Xu Jiabao: two new AHCI candidates

The AHCI introduces two new candidates.

By Benjamin Teisseire, journalist specialised in watchmaking, for the AHCI.

Kim Djapri – Bélier Watches

Kim Djapri
Kim Djapri studied watchmaking in Furtwangen (Black Forest), near Dresden, in the heart of German fine watchmaking. He then worked as a watchmaker for Lang & Heyne, in the purest German tradition until 2014.

Kim began constructing his own watch at the end of 2013. He designed and built the first prototype in October 2015; and subsequently, he focused on the finishing of the watch. Kim presented his work to master watchmakers Kari Voutilainen and Paul Gerber who were impressed and offered to be Kim’s godfathers at the Academy.

For Kim, the Academy is a group of extremely talented watchmakers and he is grateful to be able to brush shoulders with such amazing talents. Their creativity and dexterity is what struck him during his apprenticeship and also what pushed him to outdo himself in order to join this circle of excellence. As he says : « I am honoured to be a candidate and to be able to work with such talents. They are very helpful to me ». For a young watchmaker like himself, to get advice from such prominent watchmakers is « the very best support you can get ».

Baselworld 2016 was an incredible experience for him. He saw so many people from the press as well as collectors. He even sold a few watches…which not every new comer to the AHCI does on their first try! But his most memorable moment was when Philippe Dufour came to discover his watch … and told him : « that’s a very well made watch ». Coming from one of the living legends of fine watchmaking, this is no small compliment!

Kim is a young, skilful and playful watchmaker. His Philosophy : « Isn’t it the right time to take time ». His Reverse watch exemplifies this perfectly with the hour-hand, the minute-hand and the second-hand turning counterclockwise. As Kim puts it : « It allows the beholder to escape the everyday stress for a few seconds, to think a bit more about the passing of time ». A playful way to anchor oneself in the moment. Why « Bélier » you might ask ? That is his zodiac sign, the Ram, honest, bold and spirited …like himself … and he loves French.

Xu JIABAO – The Chinese Clock master

Xu Jiabao
Xu Jiabao is a self-taught Chinese watchmaker born in rural Changzhou in 1941. He was invited to exhibit at Baselworld 2010 and 2011 by the former AHCI chairman, Philippe Wurtz. After a brief hiatus, Xu Jiabao returned and exhibited at Baselworld 2016 with a new creation.

He was born in a farmer’s family but has been fond of watches very early and used to paint watches right on his wrist. His passion led him to fix the clock “Purple Mountain”, assembled at the watch factory in Nanjing. This clock determined when all farmers should end their work and go home. With no past experience, nor any tools, when it broke down, Xu Jiabao offered his assistance to repair it. And he did ! This is when he decided that clockmaking would be his life project. He learned the craftsmanship on his own by spending countless hours in stores, studying the movements. His meeting and apprenticeship with the master Peiu at the factory in Changzhou was the final touch to his quest. After that, Xu JIABAO founded his own atelier and store.

The main principles of Xu Jiabao are Honesty and Reliability.

His « Flying Ball Instrument » clock is unprecedented and expresses his disruptive approach of watchmaking. Created in 2002, it took 10 years to achieve perfect timing. It brought him fame. He calls it « the embodiment of his long-term experience », free from the influence of other, even great watchmakers.

Sixteen steel balls, lined up on an ornate bridge, enter a wheel like a treadmill one by one, rotating it clockwise and powering the movement of a clock. Every hour, one ball rolls down a rail to set off an instrument that plays classical music. When the music ends, the ball is flung up into a golden bucket and takes place on the bridge again, in a precisely repeated cycle. The balls and music are powered by electric motors or a clockwork spring.

In 2015, he received China’s most coveted title of Master Clockmaker from China Horology Association. In 2016, he completed the « Clock of Dragon and Turtle ».