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UPDATED: 08:24, June 25, 2004
Self-taught tourbillon master
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Kiu Tai Yu, a Hongkonger with no school education on watch making, taught himself to do so and went so far as to win a Swiss patent at the end of last year for his series of watches of tourbillon.

Tourbillon is the most complex form of horology involving the entirely mechanical watch movement that only few Swiss watch makers have mastered.

In a recent interview with Xinhua at his small antique watch store here, Kiu noted with pleasure that one of his works was sold for 700,000 HK dollars (89,700 US dollars) at Antiquorum's 30th anniversary auction earlier this year, one of the highest prices in Asia for a timepiece without any diamond adornment.

Even though this marked the first time Kiu's watch was available on the market, he had made by hand 22 tourbillon watches without the help of modern equipment or computer since July 1993 when he unveiled the world's first "Mystery Tourbillon" wristwatch, which was recognized as an invention as his craft was different from that of Switzerland, the Kingdom of timepiece.

Born in July 1946 in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, Kiu developed an interest in watches and clocks at the age of 12, and cherished it as a life-long career.

How he managed to attain so great achievement without any training in this respect? Kiu said that antique watches are his tutors. "By dissembling watches and clocks, many of which the world's renowned ones, I managed to understand how the timepieces worked, and therefore started to produce mine."

Long before the tourbillon invention, Kiu made his first mechanical watch in May 1970 and created the first Asian escapement without pallets in January 1978.

After moving to Hong Kong in 1980, Kiu opened his antique horologe shop, spending an average 12 hours a day there on dealing with and collecting antique watches and making his own watches.

Through the years, he recorded his collection of several hundred clocks and watches into the book Time in Pocket, which turned out to be a bestseller of the watch-making industry.

"In 17 years I've gone to the movies just once. No entertainment. I'm always busy with my work. And it's more than work, it incorporates so many elements of my life. This is my job, my passion, and my life. I don't really care about anything else in the world," he stated.

Source: Xinhua

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