At the beginning of this year, the independent Swiss watchmaker De Bethune announced its acquisition of the famed Swiss music box specialist Reuge. Now under the leadership of Denis Flageollet, founder and Master Watchmaker of De Bethune who, along with youthful Artistic Director Clara Martin, are jointly breathing new life into Reuge.
Following the acquisition, Reuge unveiled Liberté – a fresh take on the “Birdcage” music box. The house’s latest offering, however, is the first to be fully conceived under the Denis Flageollet-Clara Martin creative leadership. Onkõ – named after Japanese lanterns – is not just a new music box, but “a visual and aural metaphor for Reuge’s new identity.”
Derived from the contraction in Japanese of “on” for sound and “kõ” for light, Onkõ (pronounced on-kou), opens and closes to music like a corolla. According to Reuge, “Onkõ was born of a desire to create a dialogue between metal and wood, to instil harmony between music and automaton mechanisms.”
Its primary inspiration is the Japanese tõrõ lanterns and their symbolism evoking the five elements of the Universe: earth chi, water sui, fire ka, wind fū and space kū. The gentle curves of the slender blond wooden slats, which are unmistakeably inspired by Japanese minimalism, soften the rigorous discipline of its mechanics.
As with all Reuge creations, the spellbinding sound that emanates from the automaton movement is a soothing meditative experience that generates a unique sense of wonder while also highlighting the exceptional craftsmanship and technical excellence of the house’s sound mechanics.