The name Rudis Sylva is not that of a watchmaker. Instead, it refers to the ancient name for the village of Les Bois, located on the high plateaux of the Jura in Switzerland. In 1387, a man named Ruedin settled in the area, began clearing the forests, and as one of the first to do this, the area took his name Rudis Sylva, or “The Forests of Ruedin”.
Today, this famous area is still populated by watchmakers. During the 1700s, the men living here made watch parts during the harsh winters and then delivered them to the watchmakers in La Chaux-de-Fonds. So many people in the area became involved in watchmaking that by 1902, nearly half the population of 1400 worked in timekeeping and produced as many as 30,000 watches per year. It is the birthplace of Baume & Mercier, and today is home to Nivarox, which is part of the Swatch Group, and produces some 90 percent of the Swiss mechanical escapements.
Jacky Epitaux, founder and CEO of Rudis Sylva and a native of the region, created the brand and established the headquarters in Les Bois in 2007, and as Jacky explains, “This region has always exported its savoir-faire, so why not try to enhance its image and totally produce our watches here”. And so they have, forming a small group of the “best of the best”in area, they began producing the first Rudis Sylva watch, which was some four years in the making, and was given the name Harmonious Oscillator.
The Harmonious Oscillator features a system of two mechanically interlinked balances driven by a single escapement. According to Jacky, it is “more accurate than a conventional tourbillon”. Whereas a conventional tourbillon requires a minute to compensate for the effects of gravity in the vertical position, the Harmonious Oscillator makes an instantaneous correction made possible by means of the interconnection of the balances and asymmetric deployment of the balance springs.
Whether we totally understand the intricacies of the Harmonious Oscillator’s movement, it is certainly easy for the eye to comprehend the beauty of the watch. The lower part of the main plate features a hand engraved guilloche decoration of tapering pyramids. From the edge to the center of the piece each line of guilloche includes 60 pyramids, each one smaller than the next. This technique is extremely difficult to master and very labor intensive. It is just another example of the total dedication to the artistry of the piece. The reverse side of the watch features yet another artistic skill example. An historic sundial has been hand engraved on the watch back, then hand painted in enamel by the artist Sophie Cattin Morales.
There are 15 watches produced by Rudis Sylva each year. When Jacky is asked if he could produce more, he smiles and answers, “yes…”, and in that pause, one realizes that while “yes”is the answer, the watch production will never reach commercial numbers. There is a reason Rudis Sylva is considered by many experts to be one of the greatest inventions since the tourbillon of Breguet…it is a modern example of watch art, displaying all the historic qualities and techniques that have made timepieces of this nature some of the most collectable in the world.
To find more about Rudis Sylva go to http://www.rudissylva.ch