Who were Emperor Charles’ watchmakers and what creations did he have made? This is what Tiens watchmaking historian Eddy Fraiture (82) found out in his eighth book The Watchmakers of Emperor Charles. “This will probably be my last book,” says the author.
It took Eddy many years of research to arrive at his latest book. Little was known or published about Emperor Charles’ passion for watches and timepieces. “For more than 20 years I have searched for historical data around here, in Italian, Spanish and Brussels archives. But in the end it was more than worth it. I have made discoveries that can now place certain timepieces and watches in the right context.”
In the book, Eddy tells how Emperor Charles was looking for the best watchmakers to satisfy his thirst for knowledge about time measurement. His intimate circle of excellent watchmakers consisted mainly of two Brussels residents, Nicolaes van Troestenbergh and Johannes Vallyn, and an Italian from Cremona, the brilliant Giovanni Torriani, also known as Juanelo Turriano. “I have certainly done groundbreaking research on Johannes Vallyn,” says Eddy. “And I found out about the Troestenbergh family that descendants of this family still live in Sint-Joris-Winge.”
The Clockwork Company
It is already the eighth book that Eddy wrote as an expert on the Belgian watchmaking world. “The passion for watchmaking has been there since 1985,” he says. “It was already too late to master the practice of watchmaking, but the history of it had to work. I have already done research into, among other things, watchmakers and the watchmaking industry in Flanders, longcase clocks, Belgian timepieces and their makers and timepieces on Flemish belfries. All this was always put into books.”
Together with the Tienen watchmaker Rudy Degeest and the Leuven professor Paul Van Rompay, Eddy also founded Het Uurwerkgezelschap in 1999: a non-commercial association of enthusiasts and collectors of timepieces and time measuring instruments. “And I was the only one who was allowed to give a lecture about this at the British Museum in London, which was quite an honor,” says Eddy proudly.
Eddy does not want to say whether his investigation is now over. “But it is always a quest that takes many years to create a good and historically correct book. I therefore fear that this will be my last book,” the author concludes.
On Thursday, November 9, Eddy will present his book in the council chamber of Tienen town hall. Unfortunately there are no more places available. The book is for sale at Peeters Publishers in Leuven.