It Took 8 Months, but He Made a Winning Pocket Watch

Name Maciej Misnik

Age 31

City Warsaw

Claim to fame Mr. Misnik won the 2022 edition of the F.P. Journe Young Talent Competition, an annual contest the company holds to discover and support talented apprentices, recent graduates and self-taught watchmakers. Since the prize was introduced, he is the first winner to hold a doctorate, having earned one in physical sciences in 2021 from the Gdansk University of Technology.

The winning watch A tourbillon pocket watch. “I dreamed of having my own tourbillon pocket watch with detent escapement, like in the marine chronometers with a shiny cage bridge, so I made it,” Mr. Misnik wrote in an email. His design, featuring a case made of brass and a pendant and bow made of silver, was inspired by the marine chronometers from the 18th-century watchmakers Abraham-Louis Breguet and Ferdinand Berthoud, as well as by the pocket watches from the modern makers George Daniels, Derek Pratt, and, incidentally, François-Paul Journe — the watchmaker behind F.P. Journe.

His method “I used only traditional techniques,” Mr. Misnik wrote. “Everything is truly handmade and hand-finished, except two mainsprings, one hairspring, the glass, rubies and some screws. When I made a mistake, I had to redo the piece in question.” He noted that it took him more than 1,000 hours, over the course of eight months, to complete the timepiece.

His interest in timepieces It started with a cuckoo clock incident when he was 18 months old. “My mother left me alone for a few seconds, which was long enough for me to damage the cuckoo clock on the wall,” Mr. Misnik wrote. “Since that time, I have been interested in precision movement.” Even the research topic for his doctoral work involved watchmaking. But then, when he did not get his dream job teaching at a Swiss university, he wrote, “I did not give up and decided to pursue my project — a tourbillon pocket watch.” (His other passion is model electric trains.)

A typical day Mr. Misnik’s workshop is in his apartment. “After breakfast, I start my work and usually finish it after midnight,” he wrote. Sometimes, he works at night, but in the evening, he explained, “because of the neighbors, I only work on assembly or finishing without using noisy machines. It’s a pretty boring schedule for people who don’t like watchmaking.”

About the prize In spring 2022, he received a phone call from the Journe brand, telling him that he had won. “To be honest, I didn’t believe in success. I was surprised,” Mr. Misnik wrote. “This watch was not prepared for the competition. I made it for myself, but I would like to show other people that it is possible to make a fully functional tourbillon pocket watch from scratch in Poland.” Mr. Journe, the founder of F.P. Journe and one of the members of the jury for the contest, wrote about the award: “This competition writes the first page of his passion by taking him out of the shadow.”

And, next … “I’m doomed to become an independent watchmaker because I love it so much and I can’t do anything else, except maybe boring students about vacuum technology,” Mr. Misnik wrote, referring to his expertise in physical sciences. The prize included 20,000 Swiss francs ($21,542), which he said allowed him to buy a good deal of equipment and to start work on his next project: the prototype of a tourbillon wristwatch. He also hopes to make a few of them for clients. “This award makes me feel certain that I must become a watchmaker,” he wrote. “Maybe I’m not so bad.”

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