If you owned a DRT Tempus Fugit watch, you would be constantly reminded that you better start writing that novel, establish your business or make amends with a friend. Because the watch, named in Latin for the phrase “time flies,” displays an algorithm’s estimate of how much time the owner has left to live.
Some might see such information as a curse; others, a gift to help them make the most of their remaining days. The latter is what Benoit Dubuis, president of the Inartis Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes innovation, had in mind when he envisioned the timepiece. “How can we become aware of this passing time and encourage ourselves to realize our dreams, our passions, while there is still time?” he wrote in an email.
He presented the challenge to Dominique Renaud, a co-founder of the Renaud & Papi watch movement workshop that now is part of Audemars Piguet (and creator of the million-dollar DR01 watch, featuring a movement he invented).
In March 2020, Mr. Renaud wrote in an email that Dr. Dubuis told him “about a ‘countdown’ on a watch to indicate life expectancy. He asked me, on behalf of the Inartis Foundation, to imagine a watch that would have this indication.”
Mr. Renaud created what he described as “the world’s smallest secular calendar watch which indicates the time we have left to live based on a scientific algorithm calculated by E.P.F.L.,” the French abbreviation of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. Other Swiss laboratories were also involved in developing the algorithm.
The 39-millimeter mechanical watch has a skeletonized dial in a titanium case and must be wound manually. It is priced at 380,000 euros ($375,255) and is available through the Inartis Foundation. (The foundation has registered the DRT part of the watch’s name — which stands for Dubuis, Renaud and Julien Tixier, a watchmaker who helped with the project — as a brand name.)
To complete the watch in time for it to be considered at the 2022 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève competition, held Nov. 10, Mr. Renaud turned to Mr. Tixier, who is based in Switzerland’s Vallée de Joux.
“Can you imagine what kind of a dream it is for a young independent watchmaker,” Mr. Tixier wrote in an email, “when a guy like Dominique Renaud comes to you and says, ‘We have a crazy idea, with an unprecedented complication, and the limits are our imaginations?’”
The watch was a finalist in the competition’s Calendar and Astronomy category, which was won by the Krayon Anywhere.
A new owner’s DNA, age, environment, habits and personal and family histories have to be submitted to the foundation, which uses the information to create the life expectancy projection. It then sets up the watch’s secular perpetual Gregorian calendar, which also displays the hours, minutes, days, dates, months and years up to the year 9999.
Each watch also has another personalized feature: Part of the watch’s back will open to unveil a secret message for the owner at their death or any predefined moment. “The message is personal and only the wearer knows it and will have it revealed at the moment he or she chooses,” Dr. Dubuis wrote.