Repeat after me: it’s all concerning the individuals! And in my 30 years of “severe” participation within the watch interest, I’ve met few, if any, extra fascinating people than William Massena Rohr, founder and chief of Massena Lab, and Luca Soprana, an unbiased problems specialist.
Massena is the higher recognized of the 2, amongst different issues having led TimeZone and Antiquorum and been a long-time member of the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève’s jury. Soprana, however, is a type of figures we all know exist however who is never recognized by title: the genius creators and makers behind lots of as we speak’s nice watches will not be credited for his or her contributions as a rule.
In recent times, Soprana has develop into extra seen by means of his work with Jacob and Co. and on the upcoming Derek Pratt undertaking. Late in 2021 for the primary time his title appeared on a watch: the Outdated College in collaboration with Massena Lab.
Again to high school
As you may anticipate, Outdated College is a tackle the montre d’école idea: the items that watchmaking college students full previous to commencement, which show their newly acquired expertise. Massena shared with me that the tongue-in-cheek “old style” reference didn’t resonate with some audiences unfamiliar with American idioms, however as somebody who knew the time period (and who’s a bit old style himself) I discovered it fairly intelligent.
There’s a complete discourse available on the subject of college watches. A very good pal makes a behavior of scouring classic watch outlets in Switzerland looking for college watches by well-known makers who subsequently offered them, and I’ve had the privilege of seeing a number of montres d’école nonetheless in possession of their makers, together with Rexhep Rexhepi’s piece as seen beneath.
The hallmarks of a high-quality college watch are hand-making and high-quality ornament, and Outdated College delivers on each dimensions, starting with the dial.
Earlier than we get any additional: I used to be delighted when Massena requested me to create a sequence of pre-launch images for the Outdated College, and I’m grateful for his permission to share them with you right here. Importantly, the watch you see may be very a lot a prototype (as labeled); in tight element pictures you may see some minor flaws, some screws on the motion facet aren’t in remaining kind, and so forth – so please set your expectations accordingly.
Again to the watch! Within the photograph above, you possibly can see the high quality hand-applied frosting of the central part of the dial and the radially brushed sector sample surrounding it. All the dial is in German silver, with the middle space gold-plated after ending and the opposite sections rhodium plated.
On a dial as open and easy as this one, each element counts, and for me the outstanding and strongly curved fingers very a lot do their half so as to add visible curiosity. I’m notably drawn to the daring, beveled metal ring on the hour hand and related caps on the minute and second fingers.
The shapes and ending of the case are by no means fancy, however to my eye are completely coherent with the inherent simplicity of the watch’s general presentation. And consistent with the hand-finishing theme, as we flip the case we’re greeted with very clear vertical brushing on the case band with its built-in lugs and the sharp angles of the handmade winding crown.
On to the again
Even in prototype kind, the motion of the Outdated College is beautiful. Soprana fills the complete again of the watch with a sea of German silver, appropriately completed in Germanic fashion beginning with the simple-looking, however extraordinarily troublesome, full straight graining of the plate and bridges.
The tonal and colour contrasts are already fairly nice, and I believe the impact will solely enhance because the German silver takes on its patina over time.
And whereas the motion seems fairly simple at first inspection, a more in-depth look reveals a number of beautiful “old-school” touches: to start out, check out the stylized swan neck adjuster for the stability seen on the high left of the motion within the picture above.
Zooming in on the escapement, we discover one other characteristic that speaks to an earlier time: the bimetallic break up escapement. If you wish to perceive how far our understanding of physics has superior in a century, think about that in 1920 Charles Guillaume received the Nobel Prize in that self-discipline for his growth of the bimetallic supplies used within the temperature-compensating watch stability that bears his title. Instances have actually modified, however I for one welcome the Outdated College’s use of this technical throwback.
The opposite montre d’école hallmark, lovely hand-finishing, is clearly in proof on Caliber LS-01 as effectively. Proceed wanting on the picture above and also you’ll be capable of see the black-polished caps and escapement bridge, sharp inside angles, easily rounded bevels, polished sinks, and jewels set in screwed, polished gold chatons. A whole lot of motion in a small piece of actual property!
A brief journey throughout to the opposite facet of the motion rewards us with a view of the expanse of straight-grained German silver together with one other old-time characteristic that I like, the straight-razor click on seen at backside left beneath.
I personal two excellent watches with this fashion of click on, the Dufour Simplicity and Rexhep Rexhepi RRCC, and the razor configuration not solely seems good and gives a chance to indicate off ending expertise, however in my expertise additionally yields a tactile and aural winding expertise that’s very laborious to match. I’m very happy that this conventional component is discovering its approach into extra high-end watches and pleased to see it within the period-evoking Outdated College.
Whether or not seen up shut or from a distance, for me Caliber LS-01 is an train in coherence; and, as seen above, that coherence extends to the motion as seen framed by the case, with the brushing on the motion plates discovering its complement on the flanks of the case.
Earlier than we depart the motion, I feel it’s helpful to shed some gentle on its origins. If like me you’ve learn varied articles written on the time of the Outdated College’s launch final fall, you’ll have seen varied assertions and speculations about the place Caliber LS-01 comes from, together with recommendations that it’s totally constructed up from a pocket watch ébauche.
Once I corresponded with Soprana, he characterised the Outdated College as “an actual college watch: meaning an ébauche-based piece the place the watchmaker makes most of the parts” together with on this case pivots, stability workers, chatons, and extra. His estimate is that the completed watch contains 50 % parts developed and made at his atelier in Vaumarcus and 50 % built-in, adjusted, and finely completed Twenties-era watch parts.
In hand and on the wrist
When you do a lot watch pictures, you shortly be taught that there are some watches that look greatest within the diffuse but directional gentle of the sunshine tent and that others actually hit their stride in direct gentle, whether or not indoors or out.
Whereas I used to be fairly happy with how the Outdated College appeared in studio situations, a fast stroll into the again backyard offered one other, fairly pleased perspective.
This can be a watch that involves life on the wrist: as seen within the photograph above, taken in dappled daylight below the cover of timber mirrored within the crystal, the gold frosting shimmers, rhodium areas sparkle, and fingers pop. Direct gentle additionally makes the midnight-blue enamel filling the indices extra evident, making the dial a bit livelier and linking dial and fingers extra straight than is well seen in subdued gentle.
Direct gentle additionally performs fantastically off the deep vertical brushing of the case band, a bonus for anybody who occurs to catch a glimpse of this watch because it sneaks out from below the cuff.
Again inside, I flipped the watch over in vivid workplace lighting and was so impressed by the vivid look that I grabbed an impromptu cellphone digital camera shot – maybe not essentially the most technically pleasing picture, however one which I hope provides a way of how the motion ending catches and throws gentle.
Watch commentary is filled with endearing/annoying clichés in the case of the dimensions of watches: gigantic items that “put on small,” tiny classic gadgets that “put on huge,” and naturally skyscraper-height domes that “slide properly below the cuff.” I’m responsible of utilizing all of these myself, so I’m not pointing fingers right here!
Properly, the Outdated College is a giant watch (41.5 mm) that wears huge. I’ve a broad, flat wrist, and even so you possibly can see in my wristshots that this watch nearly hangs over the sides. The skinny bezels and vivid tones additionally enhance the impression of dimension as do the generously proportioned lugs.
Second factor: should you’ve learn this far (thanks!) and are able to plop down your cash, I’ve unhealthy information: the restricted version of 11 items offered out instantly upon launch, so neither you nor I are getting one.
The excellent news: on the Massena Lab web site, Outdated College is recognized because the “first collaboration” between Massena and Soprana. So in case you are taken by the seems of this piece and recognize the dedication to handwork utilized by Soprana to his creations, keep tuned because it appears we will anticipate extra to come back!
For extra data, please go to massenalab.com/merchandise/old-school-by-massena-lab-and-luca-soprana.
Fast Details Outdated College by Massena Lab and Luca Soprana
Case: 41.5 x 11 mm, stainless-steel with polished bezels and lugs and brushed case band; flat, anti-glare entrance crystal and exhibition again with sapphire crystals; crown made by hand; water resistance 30 meters
Dial and fingers: German silver with 2N gold-plated, hand-frosted heart part and rhodium-plated sector design outer ring and seconds subdial; midnight-blue markings; hand-filed, blued metal fingers
Motion: manually wound Caliber LS-01 by Luca Soprana; blued metal stability spring and bimetallic stability; swan-neck regulator and micro-metric screw; 40-hour energy reserve; 18,000 vph/2.5 Hz frequency
Capabilities: hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds
Limitation: 11 items, offered out
Manufacturing years: 2021-22
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