Derek Pratt by Luca Soprana Remontoir d’Egalité

Watchmaking suffered a severe blow in 2009 when Derek Pratt left us. But Pratt’s legacy lives in his inimitable work, teachings (from which there is much to study), and through his friends like Luca Soprana. Pratt is often considered to be one of the greatest and most determined watchmakers that few have heard of, a peer and equal of Daniels. Pratt even made the difficult dual escape wheels for Daniel’s co-axial. Except the philosophies are entirely different. Pratt was the prototypical do-it-yourself but extremely gifted watchmaker, a man who had a god-given talent with a sharp and well-focused mind to use those gifts to their full extent.

Recently, I was asked for a podcast Q&A what Pratt invented that was original? Seeing as one just came to market, an article was required . . .and even this is not enough. Objectively, he invented mounting a remontoire inside of a tourbillon cage, which is no small feat, and the Reuleaux triangle remontoire. Providing constant force to a tourbillon was a problem not even AL Breguet could solve. But that’s not how I view him. He had a knack for creatively connecting passions no one knew could be done. For example, the triangular remontoire was inspired by the Mazda wankel engine. Pratt had been fascinated by the very first Mazda RX-7 since his youth and owned two.

Pratt was the prototypical do-it-yourself watchmaking genius. With what were by all accounts mediocre tools in a shed (acquired in the quartz crisis sell-off for a deal), Pratt constantly toyed with all aspects of a watch. He incorporated detent escapements for fun. When crystal makers told him the glass shape he required for his oval tourbillon pocket watch was impossible, he figured out how to make it himself with a small furnace and endless practice. He even took on recreated Harrison’s H4, just for the sake of it. For fans of independent watchmaking, you’ll know the name Frodsham. It was Pratt who suggested they incorporate the double impulse escapement. Pratt’s reach went far despite humble roots and limited tools, only from sheer fascination of watchmaking. To make a very tenuous analogy, I think of Pratt in the same light as the Britten V1000 story. The V1000 was a superbike built from first principles entirely in a garage by one Australian genius that shattered many records from companies with infinitely more budget. It wasn’t supposed to be possible, but dogged determination made it so; the creations are different but the philosophies are entirely the same. Pratt was a widely loved and deeply respected man and by all accounts extremely skilled. I could go on, there is an infinite amount more to learn about this man. 

But the watch we’re talking about today is a project started right when Pratt left us. It is the first watch to bring Pratt’s Reuleaux triangle remontoire to a wrist instead of a pocket watch, an invention I didn’t even have space to mention above. This is one of seven watches made to honor Pratt’s legacy by his friend Luca Soprana’s Atelier 7h38 and UAE-based Perpétuel Gallery, done so with the blessing of the Pratt family. The specifics of this movement defy belief and give inspiration to the immense impact one determined mind can have in a craft. It’s worth reading about the triangle cam and how it governs a three-tooth remontoire wheel. But, really, the specific mechanics of this lovely creation are secondary to Pratt’s story. Largely unknown still, Pratt remains one of the most (from a watchmaking standpoint) eccentric, innovative, and inspirational forces of the early years in independent watchmaking, when there was no money in the space at all. That this watch exists to honor that work after his passing, even if a bit melancholy, is beautiful. We can’t all be watchmaking geniuses on the level of Pratt, but if he taught us anything it’s that you can get pretty far by just trying your best and never giving in.


It comes to market for the first time now, and as I’ll probably not get the chance to talk about another watch with Pratt on the dial for years, this had to be written. This is a beautiful creation, one which it is an honor to attempt and explain. It comes from a well-regarded London retailer.