Joseph Flores

Joseph Flores

Gaia Award 1998 for History and Research

He is a French and Swiss dual national born on July 18, 1932.

Flores never attended horology school and, at the tender age of five, he used to spend his time working side by side with his father in their family workshop. Not only did Flores’ father –a self-trained watchmaker too– teach Flores the basics of watchmaking but he also passed on to him something very important: his passion for horology

Between 1947 and 1970, Flores worked for a small watchmaking company with only 10 employees in his hometown. During his last ten years in the company, he was also Head of Production.

In 1970, he joined Rolex SA, one of the most important Swiss watchmaking maisons. Since 1950, aside his professional life, horology and everything related to it have been an integral part of his life: the history of watches, watchmaking Masters, the invention of complications, escapements,...

He has created numerous portfolios containing his research about old pieces, arts, history, technique and analysis. Abundant photographs and documents have complemented these.

With the creation in 1977 of the Association Française des Amateurs d’Horlogerie Ancienne (AFAHA), the journal “Horlogerie Ancienne” was born. This is a biannual publication of which Flores was appointed editor in chief, a post that he still occupies today.

He has written many articles on watch escapements, mysterious horology, tourbillons and karussels, drums, chronometry and self-winding watches amongst others.

He has also written quite a number of books namely “Les Heures Révolutionnaires”, “La Leroy 01”, “Montre à une roue”, “Le Comput Ecclésiastique”, “Perpétuelle a Roue de Rencontre” and so on.
In 1993, he became the first ever to carry out a technical analysis of a document produced by the “Académie Française” in 1778. The document had been drafted by Hubert Sarton (1748 – 1828), a watchmaker from Liège, and contained the description of a watch wound by the movements of the wearer (an automatic watch).

His analysis later became a book that was published in 2001. This book is nowadays a key element to updating the history of self-winding watches, which, deliberately or not, had been neglected for some time.

For several years now, he has been keenly passing on his knowledge and passion through regular conferences. His main appearances are always at the “Congrès International d’Horlogerie”, held in Montreux and organized by the “Société Suisse de Chronométrie” (SSC). Also important are the courses he teaches as an associate professor at the engineering school in Le Locle. His aim is to pass on to future watchmaking actors the history of watches in general but also some specific techniques.

Further to his teaching activities, he also contributed to the construction of the “Musée de la Montre” in Villers-le-Lac.

Nowadays, as mentioned earlier, he is still working as editor in chief of the AFAHA. He also continues his research, especially on the origins of the self-winding rotor watch invented by Hubert Sarton and which obviously had an inestimable economic impact on the watchmaking industry.

Jean-Marie Schaller: Memories of the Future

By Constantin StikasPhotographer and journalist
We frequently say that everything in watchmaking was invented in the 18th century and Jean-Marie Schaller arrived to prove this to us, on the first day...

The Inventor of the chronograph