Taking place in Waterford over three days between May 20th – 22nd, the inaugural International Festival of Time is a showcase for independent watchmaking and the people behind its resurgent revival in the twenty-first century.
In a celebration of the centuries-old traditional crafts, skills and techniques underpinning the art of the watchmaker, the International Festival of Time is set to welcome many of the finest and most respected Masters in the world of contemporary independent watch and clock making, where they will exhibit their extraordinary horologic masterpieces for the first time on Irish soil.
Featuring styles and concepts as varied and diverse as the individuals behind them, the astonishing timepieces making their debut appearances in Ireland next weekend represent each watchmaker’s unique expressions on their craft, reflecting the kaleidoscope of design and creativity which defines modern day independent watch and clock-making.
Visitors will have the opportunity to view masterpieces which have defined the careers of their celebrated, award-winning creators, with exhibitors from Switzerland, France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the UK, as well as many prodigious Irish talents.
The line-up for the inaugural International Festival of Time includes such luminaries as Vianney Halter, Andreas Strehler, Bernhard Lederer, Thomas Prescher, Paul Gerber, Marc Jenni, Patrik Sjögren, Sebastien Naeschke, Giles Ellis, Ireland’s own John and Stephen McGonigle. The festival also boasts several emerging stars of the next generation, including Christian Lass, Philippe Narbel, Bastien Vuillomenet, Rune Bakkendorrf and Bryan Leech.
Interestingly, the Waterford region has a remarkable, yet little known connection with the earliest years of fine watchmaking. Only a few kilometres from the ancient city centre stand the ruins of what was called New Geneva Barracks. Constructed in the 1780s, the building was originally conceived as a dedicated enclave to accommodate an expected 1,000 Swiss Huguenot artisan watch and clock makers who were being persecuted in their homeland by their French and Bernese masters.
An invitation to migrate to a new life in New Geneva was extended to these artisans, but the turbulent politics of the time in both Ireland and in Switzerland, meant that the utopian concept of a New Geneva on Ireland’s south east coast failed to get off the ground. The handful of pioneering Huguenots who had embraced the idea and settled in Ireland subsequently returned to a Switzerland now more appreciative of their skills and accommodating of their way of life. Nonetheless, the fact remains that Waterford and Ireland very nearly became the centre of horologic excellence over two centuries ago.
The inaugural International Festival of Time opens to the public between 10:00am and 5:00pm from Friday, May 20th until Sunday May 22nd. The event takes place in The Irish Museum of Time, which is the newest addition to the Waterford Treasures experience, having opened in the city’s historic Viking Triangle in 2021.