Trying on the map of the watchmaking scene, Atelier Wen holds a somewhat particular place. A model created by two Frenchmen, Atelier Wen celebrates Chinese language tradition and craftsmanship. Dipping into China’s wealthy inventive heritage to adorn its dials, Atelier Wen additionally takes satisfaction in its origins, together with its manufacturing location. With the primary collection, the model caught to classical Chinese language inventive expertise with its porcelain dials and conventional motifs. With the second watch, the Atelier Wen Notion, the model brings Chinese language craftsmanship to the forefront once more, but in a shocking marriage of a guilloché dial housed in a sporty-chic metal case with an built-in bracelet. Is the identify Notion an invite to vary our perceptions about watches “Made in China”?
Atelier Wen is the brainchild of Wilfried and Robin, two shut buddies from France who got here collectively whereas learning in Beijing in 2016 by means of a shared ardour for China, its tradition, its inventive crafts, in addition to its watches. Most of the time, the idea of “Made in China” produces a low notion of high quality and a unfavourable picture. That is the place Atelier Wen needed to vary issues, with watches that have been “proudly made in China” and deeply impressed by the nation’s tradition and historical craft methods. As such, the primary collection, a traditional, elegant watch, was fitted with a porcelain dial that was made by a Chinese language artisan and impressed by vintage porcelain. There’s a wealthy cultural heritage in China, and regardless of our distorted imaginative and prescient, there are additionally spectacular expertise to be found.
As soon as once more, the Atelier Wen Notion is proudly made in China and brings to the desk a novel guilloché dial inside a watch that performs with the pattern for sporty-chic designs and built-in bracelets. The dial is made by the only guilloché grasp craftsman in China (and possibly in Asia), Grasp Cheng. Working in a conventional method, Cheng has constructed all his engine-turning machines with none exterior assist. For a very long time, he’s been working for Swiss manufacturers by way of middlemen, however now he practises his artwork on a watch that’s proudly made in China.
The Atelier Wen Notion dial is historically executed utilizing a hand-controlled rose engine. It takes as much as eight hours to create the sample on a single plate, leading to a dial with nice depth and texture. The sample is known as Sunmao (mortise and tenon) and has a 4-layer construction that will increase in measurement from the central axis to the periphery. Though the sample is a traditional of the guilloché approach, it has a strong sense of Chinese language id.
The sharply contrasting aesthetics of the dial and the sporty metal case handle to really feel coherent and distinctive on the similar time. You may have conventional approach on one aspect and trendy steel-sports inspirations on the opposite.
The general idea behind the Atelier Wen Notion is clearly taking cues from the stylish luxurious sports activities watch class, with its skinny, formed case and an built-in bracelet. The case itself is impressively made, with an actual sense of element. The bottom, with some scalloped edges, is comprised of 904L stainless-steel and is delicately completed, with a mixture of vertically brushed surfaces and powerful, contrasting polished accents on the perimeters of the case, and on the concave, round bezel. The proportions of the case are spot-on, with a contemporary but comparatively compact 40mm diameter and nice slenderness, with a 9.4mm peak. The case options all the required tools, together with a sapphire crystal on high with an anti-reflective coating, a screw-down crown and 100m water-resistance. And though the watch you see right here is an early prototype, the definition of the components is already very satisfying – and will probably be higher as soon as the watches enter manufacturing.
The Chinese language affect is clearly seen on the dial and caseback. The latter has a semi-circular opening revealing components of the motion (largely the regulating organ and the rotor when it spins); the remainder is deeply embossed with a conventional Chinese language motif. The dial, which is offered in three colors – gray, as seen right here, and salmon and ice blue – reveals its highly effective guilloché sample and a Chinese language motif within the type of a minute monitor embellished with a conventional huiwen sample and printed in white Tremendous-LumiNova. Hours are marked because of recessed rhodium-plated markers, logos are printed inside cartouches and the arms, that are leaf-shaped and stuffed with SLN, are both heat-blued on this gray mannequin, or rhodium-plated on the salmon and blue variations. The show is a traditional time-only with out a date to wreck the attractive guilloché sample.
The bracelet fitted to the Atelier Wen Notion is one other spectacular factor. As soon as once more, it’s product of 904L metal and is completed to excessive requirements, combining vertically brushed surfaces and polished bevels on the perimeters. The folding clasp is to not be ignored, primarily as a result of it’s fitted with a intelligent, easy-to-operate micro-adjustment system. Urgent the model’s brand permits extending the size by about 1cm – a uncommon characteristic on this worth vary that demonstrates the eye to element.
Because the bracelet is provided with a quick-exchange gadget, it may be changed with a rubber strap fitted with its personal folding clasp. Certainly, the system is just not fairly as refined as that of an Abroad, nevertheless it’s simple to function and does the job completely. After which, you’ve gotten a watch that may be worn both on metal and be barely elegant or sporty with its rubber strap.
Below the embossed caseback is a typical motion from Chinese language manufacturing, the skinny Dandong Peacock. However as soon as once more, contained in the Atelier Wen Notion, it goes by means of a distinct management, because the motion is adjusted in 5 positions and uncovered to warmth and chilly. It’s additionally completed with stripes, perlage and lightweight bevelling on the bridges, and the rotor is tungsten with round stripes and black rhodium plating. This motion, additionally used within the Atelier Wen Porcelain Odyssey, beats at 4Hz and shops as much as 41 hours of energy reserve.
Enable me two feedback. One is extra on the target aspect of issues, and that’s in regards to the spectacular high quality of this watch. Once you contact it, maintain it or strap it round your wrist, you see that the Atelier Wen Notion has been conceived and executed with nice consideration to element. The ending is tight and on par with some European-made watches in the identical or greater worth ranges. Moreover, the watch is filled with options (904L metal, complicated clasp), and the dial itself, a hand-made guilloché dial executed in essentially the most conventional method, justifies the worth alone. The design is private and distinctive, but there’s an simple coherence with a contemporary interpretation of traditional codes from Chinese language tradition.
On a extra private word, I need to applaud the boldness of the founders. Making an attempt to fabricate a watch that’s proudly made in China, understanding the notion we nearly all have of this “Made in China” stamp, is just not a simple job. What Wilfried and Robin have demonstrated right here is that there’s room available on the market for stunning and soul-packed watches made in China. There are true artisans with expertise and fervour, and for those who ask suppliers for high quality, a Chinese language watch may be spectacular in its execution.
Availability & Worth
The Atelier Wen Notion is just not launched as a restricted version, however its manufacturing is restricted by the variety of dials that may be produced – about 500 items a yr. The pre-order marketing campaign is now closed, and the watches will probably be obtainable for normal orders on the finish of 2022. The retail worth will probably be USD 2,588.
For extra particulars and orders, please go to atelierwen.com.