Watch enthusiasts (and watch brands too) often liken the ticking of a watch to the beating of a mechanical heart. Last May, we first heard of Paul Forrest Co., a new jewelry brand founded by Paul Forrest Hartzband, which uses mechanical watch movements made in Fleurier to power animated jewelry. The use of clockwork mechanisms to power animated figures and automata isn’t something new of course, but we haven’t seen anything quite like this from a jewelry maker in modern production, and certainly not anything with a mechanical movement of this quality. To understand what Paul Forrest Co. is shooting for, you really need to see the pieces in motion. Check out this video, which shows the “beating heart” jewelry in action.
The action of the beating heart animation is controlled by a mechanical movement that is in most respects identical to a watch movement. There’s a mainspring (wound with a key that forms part of the pendant) which powers a going train ending in an escapement, lever, and balance wheel. On top of the going train and regulating system is the module that drives the beating halves of the heart in the pendant, which slowly move back and forth. The module consists of a rotating wheel with a sine-wave shaped track in its perimeter and as two pins set in the track move in and out, they carry the two halves of the heart along with them.
It’s quite a charming effect a kind of mechanical entertainment akin to a music box. The movement is designated caliber PF-001, with an eight to 10-hour power reserve. There are a total of 145 parts (81 for the base movement and 64 for the module) and the module is built to the same standard as a fine watch movement, with jeweling throughout to reduce friction and help keep the heart beating smoothly.
The movement and module are made from a combination of high quality modern and traditional materials, with a variety of materials including German silver (maillechort), steel, copper-beryllium, and titanium. The guide arms for the beating heart module are made of aluminum, and there are 20 jewels in the main movement and 20 more in the module. The cam wheel is Teflon-coated to minimize friction. As a piece of jewelry, the Heart’s Passion pendant is a fresh, romantic take on making animated wearable art, and the fact that behind the artistry there’s some high-grade watchmaking and engineering is pretty terrific. The pendant is actually built very much like a luxury watch, including the gold case, sapphire crystal, and even a guaranteed 50-meter water resistance (good to know about in case the recipient is fond of spontaneous midnight swims).
Price points are in the $19,000 to $45,000 range, depending on gem-setting and other material options. Paul Forrest Co. offers a 24-month warranty and has set up its facility in Fleurier for after sales service as well, since the mechanical movements will, just as with a wristwatch, require periodic cleaning and re-oiling.
I have to admit, I find this kind of thing sort of irresistible I think of The Wizard Of Oz, in which the Wizard tells the Tin Woodman, “Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable,” to which the Tin Woodman responds, “But I still want one.” The Wizard gives him a watch to carry as a beating heart, and Paul Forrest Co. takes the metaphor one step further into reality.
More info atPaulForrestCo.com.