Van Bricht’s ‘Old Mind’

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 4, 2019.

The Old Mind strikes a careful balance between contemporary movement innovation and an old-school engine-turned-dial aesthetic. Photos by Hodinkee

-A +A

The “Old Mind” series consists of two prototypes, each featuring a different style of hand-guilloche pattern on the dial and a 60-second tourbillon movement. This is the breakout model from Van Bricht, a fledgling high horology manufacture out of Belgium. Two young watchmakers teamed up to form the brand, and they plan to make 25 examples of these watches.

Sébastien Lambricht and Bernard Van Ormelingen both attended the same watchmaking school in Namur, Belgium and then independently went on to specialise in different disciplines in the watchmaking world before coming together to form Van Bricht, an amalgamation of both founders’ last names. Sébastien, now 29, completed an internship at Rolex Benelux, then went onto Patek Philip Benelux, and then settled in as the head of the workshop at Ressence Antwerp. At Ressence, he was responsible for prototype development, and he has brought some of the case design philosophy from Ressence into the Old Mind, with an expansive dial and a seamless flow between the crystal and the case. Bernard, at 21 years old, has not wasted any time making his name as a top guillocheur around Europe. While he is trained in watchmaking, it is the old art of hand engraving and engine turning that has guided his budding career. He trained under the engraver Alain Lovenberg and interned at Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Métiers Rares department.

The Old Mind strikes a careful balance between contemporary movement innovation and an old-school engine-turned-dial aesthetic. The 316L case is 6.5mm thick, but the dual-crystal design raises that to a thickness of 10.6mm. The case is 40mm wide but visually, a lot of the large appearance is due to the 37mm dial. And all that dial real estate puts Bernard’s guilloche on full display. These two prototypes wear two very distinct guilloche patterns, the first of which is a reserved barley pattern rounded design. The second pattern gets a little more interesting. It is Bernard’s own take on the Moiré pattern, but with both examples, the centre point of the guilloche is exactly where the tourbillon sits at six o’clock as opposed to the traditional positioning of the guilloche extending out from the centre of the dial. The effect is novel on the Moiré design, almost like the radiating light from the sun as it casts it last rays into the sky right before it is out of sight.

The tourbillon movement features hand-chamfering, and a complete architectural overhaul and reworking to blend with the case seamlessly. A 110-hour power reserve meets modern standards, while the bridges are all engraved by Bernard’s mentor Lovenberg — a not-so-subtle nod to an old-school technique. Lovenberg is widely considered the last of his kind; he is world-renowned for his engravings on shotguns, knives, pens and jewellery.


Initial thoughts

I was on a Jaeger-LeCoultre factory tour when I first encountered Bernard. He was seated at a turn-of-the-century rose engine, peering through a microscope working on one of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s upcoming releases before he was introduced as a rising star that had been selected for a competitive internship at the Jaeger-LeCoultre factory’s Métiers Rares department. He popped up, shook our hands and apologised that he was not able to show us the dial he was working on at the moment because the watch had not been announced yet. He was bursting with youthful enthusiasm and was eager to share his passion for the fine art of guilloche, so he took the watch off his wrist and showed it to us. Besides our group of visitors, he might have been the only person not wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre watch at the factory. But he wore something far more personal than anything he could have bought. It was a watch he had made for himself as the capstone of his training in guilloche techniques.

During our brief introduction, he mentioned that he had been developing a watch with a partner in his spare time on top of a small operation which he had created to explore guilloche dials. His days were spent at Jaeger-LeCoultre; his nights were spent on what would eventually become Van Bricht. What stuck out to me most was the refreshing sense of optimism and the willingness to hustle to no end to make it happen. It was clear that he was hungry, and I think the watch certainly shows that the pair did not want to just put something out that did not bring anything new to the table. The Old Mind is a different sort of beast; in a way it is quite disruptive. Two young watchmakers came together with a vision; they had the skills and they found the resources to make it happen. What they came up with breaks the mould of the establishment in high horology. — Bloomberg

This article was originally published on Hodinkee.


The basics
Brand: Van Bricht
Model: Old Mind
Reference number: VB-OM-2129
Diameter: 40mm
Thickness: 10.6mm
Case material: Stainless steel 316L
Dial colour: Silver bleached
Indices: Maillechort diamond
Water resistance: 30m
Strap/bracelet: Kudu/Ostrich


The movement
Calibre: VB2129
Functions: Hour, minute, seconds (tourbillon)
Diameter: 31.8mm
Thickness: 6.5mm
Power reserve: 110 hours
Winding: Manual
Frequency: 3Hz (21,600vph)
Jewels: 19


Pricing and availability
Price: €45,000 (RM207,865)
Availability: Pre-order at Van Bricht
Limited edition: 25 examples