Charles Reuge was born in 1839 in Buttes, a small village in a valley that borders on Sainte-Croix, where the company’s factory is still based today. He became the first watchmaker to integrate within a pocket watch a miniaturized version of the cylinder and comb arrangement from a music box in an early example of the fusion of two different technologies from two different worlds.
Charles Reuge pocket watches are still manufactured by the company today. True to the motto of sticking to what you’re good at, Reuge uses external movements… from Russia! The 2612.1 R manually-wound calibre used in the pocket watches was manufactured by Poljot and offers a 40-hour power reserve, as well as a vibrating alarm. Reuge’s in-house expertise comes in the form of the smallest musical movement in the world, which is entirely manufactured and assembled by hand in Sainte-Croix. Consisting of a cylinder with 50 pins and a comb of 17 notes, the movement can play a 10-second melody.
The pocket watches all have a yellow-gold plated case that is 55mm in diameter and come in a choice of dials with different animated scenes, all with an off-centre sub-dial at 12 o’clock showing the time. The “fountain” scene is available in a daytime or nighttime version, the former with the background scenery painted in on the dial, the latter with a blue background. Each of these is in turn available in its standard configuration with a hunter case back, underneath which the movement cover can be engraved, or with a hidden erotic scene, which, like the scene on the front, is animated. Ten-second musical extracts from The Magic Flute or A Little Night Music (both by Mozart) are automatically activated to accompany the animated scenes. Other melodies are available on request, but at an additional cost.
To celebrate Reuge’s 150th anniversary, the brand has added a new model to the collection this year. The Polo Automaton and Music Watch is a tribute to the sport of kings and features an animation with two players on horseback in the middle of a game, with a female spectator waiting for her lover to finish the game. On the back, Reuge describes the scene, euphemistically, as the player and the lady “sharing a tender moment”. For this model, the choices of melody are Mozart’s The Magic Flute or Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.
The new Polo pocket watch offers a more contemporary scene in contrast to the traditional painting on the existing models. But regardless of the nature of these erotic scenes, the buyers of such watches are always likely to be the same. As Kurt Kupper, CEO of Reuge, explains, “we have noticed that the origin of our customers (but not necessarily the places where they buy the watches) are Asia, the Middle East and Russia, as is often the case for extraordinary timepieces.”