Music and watchmaking have a deep connection. Consider the “tick tock” of traditional timepieces, the minute repeater complication (a function besides the telling of time) that chimes the time on demand and the tunes played by many a pocket watch.
Some watchmakers, though, say music also plays an important role in their ateliers — as inspiration, distraction and sometimes just for fun.
Below, six industry professionals talk about what’s on their playlists.
Watchmaker at Urwerk, in Geneva
The Rolling Stones have played an important role at Urwerk since its founding in 1997, uniting Martin Frei, who designs the wildly futuristic watches, and Mr. Baumgartner, who makes them.
For example, Mr. Baumgartner wrote in a email, in 2002, “we had finished the design of our new watch, the UR-103, but had barely enough money to put it into production.
“We had to make a decision. Urwerk was clinically dead. It made no sense to continue,” the 46-year-old watchmaker added. “We took a break, turned on the music, the famous ‘Time Is On My Side,’ on maximum volume. We looked at each other and we knew. We found faith. We had to go to the end.”
Watchmaker at De Bethune, in L’Auberson, Switzerland
Mr. Flageollet’s exposure to music began long before 2002, when he co-founded De Bethune, a brand dedicated to combining watchmaking’s heritage with new technologies.
He was 7 in 1969, when Woodstock captured the world’s attention. “I couldn’t understand what was going on but I heard so much about it that I knew it was something big,” Mr. Flageollet, now 59, wrote in an email. “My elders introduced me to Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, the Who and their music never left me.”
Later, he added, “I discovered the Montreux Jazz Festival, which introduced me to many artists with very different styles such as Leonard Cohen, Miles Davis, Prince, David Bowie.”
Watch designer at Kross Studio, in Gland, Switzerland
Not all creative types in the watch world lean toward rock, though. Recently the founder and chief executive of Kross Studio has been listening to the music from the 1996 movie “Space Jam.”
The reason: He is creating a tourbillon watch housed in a sculptural wood and aluminum basketball — a homage to LeBron James, star of the new movie “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”
It is just one of the projects that Kross has undertaken since Mr. Tedeschi, formerly with Hublot, established the business a year ago and signed partnerships with Warner Bros. (which produced and released both “Space Jam” movies) and Lucasfilms (its visual effects division worked on “A New Legacy”) to create themed collector sets that retail for five to six figures.
“I played the soundtrack through again and again,” he said, referring to the original movie.
As for his own taste, Mr. Tedeschi, 36, has an iTunes library of more than 30,000 listings: “I like French music from the ’80s, George Clinton, Motown singers — that type of music is the base of my musical culture. My father played Otis Redding a lot as I was growing up.”
Watch analyst at Zenith, in Le Locle, Switzerland
Ms. Mougin, 44, repairs some of Zenith’s most complicated watches.
“When I’m setting the hammers of my minute repeater,” she wrote, referring to the watch complication that strikes the hours, quarters and minutes on request, “I have to listen to the ‘music’ played by the gongs of this watch. My mind is silent, and I’m totally concentrated, with only the music played by my watch piercing this silence.”
And when she is starting a restoration, she wrote, “My mind has to be clear, not clogged up with worries or questions. That’s when I mentally conjure up ‘The Funeral’ by Ennio Morricone. Admittedly it’s quite sad, but so powerful. It helps me reconnect with essentials.”
She also will imagine the New Orleans classic “Iko Iko”; “Elle est d’ailleurs,” sung by Pierre Bachelet; and “Ça va ça va,” performed by Claudio Capéo.
Watchmaker at Voutilainen, in St.-Sulpice, Switzerland
A variety of music entertains Mr. Voutilainen, 59, and his 10-member workshop team. They tune into local radio stations in Switzerland’s Val de Travers that might be playing “jazz, classical, popular music,” the independent watchmaker said. “It’s background music, creating a relaxing mood.”
And when it’s not so relaxing? “It’s a common decision when it’s time to change the station,” Mr. Voutilainen said.
Personally, “I listen to everything, to classical, to jazz, to Louis Armstrong. I’m not difficult,” he said, adding that he also likes “Italian pop music, like Zucchero. I do also like the Canadian singer Garou; you can hear the passion when he’s singing.”
Watch designer at Through the Looking Glass, in Confignon, Switzerland
Different music fits different projects, Mr. Giroud, 59, wrote in an email. “In the research of ideas or concept I will listen to soft and introspective music,” like Debussy’s piano concertos or Nils Frahm, he wrote. “When sketching I listen to music more rhythmic and almost disturbing in order to leave my zone of comfort (Nick Drake, Isaac Hayes, etc.)”
And creating 2-D or 3-D drawings? “Titles arranged by Claus Ogerman, for example, or Kruder & Dorfmeister,” he said, referring to the German arranger and composer and the modern Austrian remix specialists.
Music is so important to his creations that “every year I make a compilation of the music that had accompanied me during the year in the form of a CD that serves as a greeting card,” he wrote.
Just this creative watchmaker’s way of spreading the inspiration of music.