Spotted: Karsten Frässdorf Spirograph

Baselworld releases can be categorized in 3 categories: the Rolex releases, the Patek releases, and the other brands. This is something I highly regret. While Rolex steals all the attention with incredibly boring ‘new’ models, independent brands never get the spotlight, while they really dare to innovate and come up with new things. 

That’s why I’m into independents. They don’t ‘innovate’ by adding a new color or a new bracelet, they innovate by doing crazy stuff. 

That’s why I’m so excited to cover mister Karsten Frässdorf. I met Karsten at Baselworld this year. We got in contact trough a mutual acquaintance. Kasten isn’t just a watch designer, he is a horological wizard.  His latest creation, the Spirograph, has a tourbillon that can withstand 5000G and 1000 Gauss. Let that sink in for a moment. 

The tourbillon as we know it is very fragile (with the exception of Richard Mille). ‘Daily beater’ and ‘tourbillon’ usually don’t go in the same sentence. Most people who own a tourbillon watch only wear it in the house or on very formal occasions. One rough bike ride, tennis match, or even a hefty applause can completely fuck up your tourbillon. The Spirograph has a tourbillon that can withstand 5000G and 1000 Gauss, making it the strongest, most durable tourbillon available. You can really wear this on a daily basis and not worry about the frangibility. That’s why I really wanted to feature Karsten. 

How did you get into watches? 

KF: I actually became a watchmaker by accident at age of 15 years. I did a spontaneous candidature for a free apprenticeship. I was infected by the watchmaking virus as I repaired a Junghans Alarm Clock during my testing day for this apprenticeship. I guess it never stopped. 

Apart from the Spirograph, which other watches do you wear/ which watches get you inspired. 

KF: I don’t want to sound too posh, but I actually don’t wear other watches. 

Oh, are there brands or models do you get inspiration from? 

KF: I also don’t have other brand for inspirations, autist as I am I even don’t know all the work from other watchmakers. 

Because of my experience as a watch and clock restorer I have a certain knowledge of the watchmaking history. For me watchmaking means not to be inspired during a shower, for me it is a combination of craft work, science and logical thinking. I am not waiting for a brain flash to stroke me, most of my work is the result of hefty research about a technical problem.

Where did you get the inspiration for the Spirograph? 

KF: The Spirograph is the result of different reflections. I don’t get inspiration from other brands or other models, I get inspiration from problems that need to be solved. For example: how do you make a balance wheel lighter but give it more inertia, how to reduce shocks and magnetism, how to improve the isochronism, how to handle temperature problems during tests… I start with a problem and I look for a solution. My watches don’t focus on heritage or aestethical marvels, my watches focus on innovating movements. 

Which other projects/models/complications are in the pipeline? 

KF: As mostly my ideas finish in patents ( there are six on the Spirograph) I can’t communicate my next steps for legal reasons, really sorry for this.


Here is why I respect this brand so much: 

Montres KF doesn’t have a catalogue or shop, they don’t even have a fixed price, and they have a damn good reason.  You will never see a Spirograph in a shop or in an online store. If you want to buy one, you need contact Karsten, and you work out together how you want your watch to look like. Montres KF only makes around 20 watches a year, so you really are deeply involved in the production process.

You want to buy a Nautilus? The Patek AD laughs in your face. You want to buy a Spirograph? You fly over to Kartsen’s atelier, have dinner together, and you work out together how you want your dial, hands, movement decorations and strap to look like. Talk about a watch with a story. 

Price? Around €80.000, depending on the dial, hands strap, movement decoration, special requests…

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