We've seen our fair share of wooden watches in the past, but nothing prepared us for the work of watchmaker Valerii Danevych, which we saw at while visiting Baselworld 2013. Working from his hometown in Kiev, Ukraine, Danevych comes from a long line of cabinetmakers and has been refining his craft of miniature joinery since childhood. Since 2005 he has been dedicated to creating timepieces made entirely from wood, with the sole exception of the metal spring needed to propel the movement.
Danevych has mastered this craft without a watchmaking background, imitating complex modern movements—such as the flying tourbillon—without a traditional education. Listening to Danevych explain how a series of wooden gears can store 20 hours of reserve power, it's hard to keep in mind that his clocks, pocket and wrist watches actually keep time (with an accuracy of around 5 minutes per day for wristwatches).
Danevych works mostly in birch but has been known to experiment with exotics like guaiac, and it's this diversity of wood that gives the watch movements visual interest. Working under a microscope, Danevych has been able to scale down his creations to produce a necklace watch at a mere 1.3mm in diameter, all without the use of screws. His latest creation is a men's wristwatch with a tourbillon movement and full retrograde indication—the result of 1,800 work hours over seven months—that comes with a €100,000 price tag.
We recommend browsing Danevych's full collection, which shows off a mind blowing range of highly complex and ornate movements. For his efforts, Danevych has been nominated to the Horological Academy of Independent Creators (AHCI), which inducts members based on their contribution to the independent watchmaking scene.
Images by Evan Orensten and courtesy of Valerii Danevych