New documentary about timepiece preservation debuts today

The 12-minute short documentary film by Li Shaohong records the collaboration between artisans from the Palace Museum and Cartier to restore six antique timepieces. 
Emmanuel Schmitt / Ti Gong

Experts from both Palace Museum and Cartier discuss restoration details.

Emmanuel Schmitt / Ti Gong

“Revive the Memory of the Timepieces,” a short documentary film produced by celebrated Chinese filmmaker Li Shaohong, made its debut today on

The 12-minute film records the collaboration between artisans from the Palace Museum and Cartier to restore six antique timepieces belonging to the museum.

The Palace Museum in Beijing and Cartier have collaborated many times since the 1990s. Both sides have a strong sense of mission toward protecting cultural heritage and legacy, and this specific project originated from exchanges between artisans of the Palace Museum and the Cartier Watchmaking Manufacture in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, in 2014.

The two sides decided to jointly restore six antique timepieces after comprehensive inspection and research. Restoration experts from the Palace Museum, led by renowned horologist Wang Jin, focused on the restoration of the external appearance of the timepieces, while Cartier worked on the movements of the timepieces.

The timepieces are from a very special collection in the Palace Museum, mostly from the West, representing the highest level of watchmaking from the 18th to the 19th century. 

Officials said that the cooperation between the Palace Museum and Cartier lasted for three years, including a repair process of almost six months. The process has been faithfully captured and recorded by filmmaker Li and her production team, all of whom traveled to Switzerland to document this historic program and leave behind a rich repository for future horologists.

“Through this documentary, I hope to showcase the craftsmanship exemplified by watchmaking artisans from both the East and West as they revive the spirit and memory of these timepieces,” Li said.

Palace Museum / Ti Gong

One of the restored antique timepieces

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