In the almost five decades that Bernhard Lederer has been working with timepieces — making and maintaining clocks and watches with complications such as chronographs and tourbillons — one component has been his obsession: the escapement.

It is the part of a mechanical timepiece that regulates the gears so the watch runs and keeps time accurately. It essentially sets the pace of the entire mechanism.

“I don’t see myself as a complication watchmaker,” Mr. Lederer said in a phone interview from his office in St.-Blaise, Switzerland, a small town on Lake Neuchâtel. “The words complicate and complication are so close. I love watches that are not complicated, that are easy to use, easy to read. But yes, I’m a guy who is deep into the escapement.”

The timepiece introduced in 2021 by his Lederer brand — the Central Impulse Chronometer, or C.I.C., as it is often called — demonstrates that focus. While a typical mechanical watch has a one-wheel escapement, the 44-millimeter C.I.C. was powered by two wheels; its gear trains — which align the escapement’s gears — are also separate.

Mr. Lederer’s escapement was inspired by a similar one created for pocket watches by the celebrated British watchmaker George Daniels. And while some other brands offer wristwatches with double escapements, he said that his patented creation was especially sturdy, reliable and resilient.

“Bernhard is really the king, or the prince, or the emperor, or the guru of escapements,” said Xavier de Roquemaurel, the chief executive of the Swiss watch brand Czapek & Cie. Last year, it unveiled the Place Vendôme Complicité, a watch powered by a movement that Mr. Lederer designed and that also has dual escapements.

“His life is really dedicated to the heart of the watch, which is the escapement,” Mr. de Roquemaurel added.

The C.I.C. won the innovation prize at the 2021 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, the annual industry awards event. Nonetheless, the watch remains something of an insiders’ secret.

“I don’t think that the watch press, if I’m honest with you, has quite grasped the importance in a historical sense of the technical innovation that he has achieved,” said Charlie Pragnell, managing director and chairman of the British jewelry and watch retailer Pragnell, which has been selling the C.I.C. since April 2022.

The model was issued in four limited editions of 25 watches each, priced at 128,000 to 136,800 Swiss francs ($147,400 to $157,535), depending on the kind of metal used for the case and dials. In addition to Pragnell, Lederer watches are sold by The Limited Edition in England, Cellini and Oster jewelers in the United States, and The Hour Glass in Singapore. Several more stores will stock them this year, Mr. Lederer said, but he is not ready to announce them.

This spring, Mr. Lederer plans to unveil a 39-millimeter version of the watch. And he is working on several more escapements, saying they are now in various stages of development, prototyping and testing. “After nearly 50 years of working with watches and with escapements,” he said, “I’m still fascinated by this theme.”

In December, the brand introduced a literal twist on the C.I.C.: the InVerto, with the movement visible through the dial rather than at the back of the case and hidden against the wrist. A limited edition of 18 pieces was offered at 150,000 Swiss francs each, to be shipped this spring — and sold out within a few days.

The watchmaker said he decided to create the InVerto because “nearly everybody had the same comment: ‘I’ve never seen this before — I would like to wear the watch the wrong way around.’ It was simply my wish to make people happy.”

Mr. Lederer, 66, was born in the small town of Kornwestheim, Germany, and raised in Stuttgart, about eight miles away. His obsession with escapements started when, as a teenager, he read about them in a library book. (He can’t remember its name.) At 18, he began working as a watchmaker’s apprentice at a nearby horological museum and, within a few months, knew he wanted to be a watchmaker.

His timing wasn’t ideal: It was the mid-1970s, the midst of what the watch industry calls the quartz crisis, when the sudden popularity of inexpensive quartz-run watches all but decimated the mechanical watch sector. And his father, who, with his mother, ran nursing homes, wasn’t impressed by his career aspirations.

“He could not understand that I wanted to learn a profession that was already dead,” Mr. Lederer said.

Still, Mr. Lederer was determined, and he earned a bachelor’s degree in watchmaking from a vocational school in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 1979 and a master’s degree in watchmaking from a goldsmith and watchmaking school in Pforzheim, Germany, in 1984. He kept apprenticing, and searched out other ways to educate himself, too: In the early 1980s, when he couldn’t find a copy of Mr. Daniels’s manual “Watchmaking,” he and his younger brother more or less hitchhiked to London to buy it. (They did pay for tickets to cross the English Channel.)

In 1984, Mr. Lederer opened his first business, Uhrenmanufaktur Lederer, or Watchmaker Lederer, which specialized in restoring vintage watches and clocks, but he shortly began making his own. One of his clocks, released in 1986, tracked the phases of the moon with a precision that, he said, would be correct for 800 years.

Around that time, Mr. Lederer met Mr. Daniels at the Baselworld trade show booth of the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Zurich that is dedicated to independent watchmaking.

They talked about the moon phase clock and “he was impressed by the fact that I had calculated everything by hand,” Mr. Lederer said. “That is what we discussed, not hitchhiking to London.”

In 2000, Mr. Lederer moved to Switzerland, with the goal of focusing on his own watch brand, which he called BLU. The first two letters were his initials; the U initially stood for uhrmacher, or watchmaker, but eventually came to stand for the watch universe, he said.

He sold the brand in 2009 — then bought it back last year, although it is dormant now.

Mr. Lederer works with his wife, Ewa, and their 23 employees on both Lederer and MHM, a company that makes movements and manufactures watches for other brands. He would not identify the brands, nor would he disclose the annual revenue of either company.

His fans, however, say his discretion may stem as much from modesty as professional secrecy. “There is not one ounce of an egotistical personality in him at all,” said Marcus Randell, the founder of Watch Affinity, a watch website based in England. (It is not affiliated with a retail horological site of the same name based in the United States.)

“I’m not dancing on the tables crying, ‘Look at me — I’m the best,’” Mr. Lederer said. “That is not me.”

Instead, his focus remains on, as he put it, “the work I’m doing.”

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