On the earth of refined watchmaking, the “Made in China” designation isn’t usually related to Haute Horlogerie. Though China churns out big volumes of the parts utilized in Swiss watchmaking, a “Made in China” watch is related to mass manufacturing, middling high quality and copycat designs. Effectively, there’s any individual who desires to overturn this stigma and infuse an nearly Imperial-like splendour to Chinese language watchmaking with the tagline “Made in China with Pleasure”. As an alternative of downplaying its origins, Celadon HH takes nice delight in trumpeting the Chinese language provenance of its watches. Over time, Celadon is proving that China and Haute Horlogerie usually are not incompatible and that some fairly outstanding issues can occur if you mix gifted watchmakers, glorious hand finishings and beautiful Chinese language craftsmanship. The person behind this enterprise is Benjamin Chee, a reputed Singaporean classic watch collector turned entrepreneur. Coinciding with the discharge of a brand new assortment often known as Century, we’ve put collectively a quick background of Celadon HH.
Celadon HH, based in 2012, is the Chinese language department of Benjamin Chee’s mini watch emporium. The identify Celadon refers to a kind of ceramic with a mushy green-coloured glaze that originated in China throughout the Shang (1600-1046 BC) and Zhou (1046-256 BC) dynasties. Though Chee was born in Singapore, his ancestors have been Fujian (a province on the south-eastern coast of China). His fascination for Chinese language tradition and craftsmanship peaked when he was studying legislation at College School London.
Chee’s urge for food for refined watches has resulted within the creation of three totally different manufacturers with three very totally different proposals. Celadon HH, based in 2012, is the Chinese language consultant of Chee’s three manufacturers. Milléchron, based in 2018, has a mixture of Artwork Deco-inspired fashions and dressy sports activities watches, and Benjamin Chee Haute Horlogerie (BCHH), his flagship model based in 2019, is house to fashions just like the beautiful BCHH x Andersen Genève Celestial Voyager with a cloisonné enamel dial launched earlier this 12 months. Nonetheless, his BCHH and Milléchron manufacturers are primarily based in Switzerland, the place Chee has teamed up with among the high names in watchmaking, together with Svend Andersen (AHCI) and Kari Voutilainen. The particularity of Celadon watches is that they’re “Made in China with Pleasure”, and Chee is on a mission to “elevate the status and repute of Chinese language watchmaking”.
Chinese language artisanal crafts
China’s wealthy historical past and heritage spanning 5 millennia have spawned numerous artisanal crafts, abilities that Chee desires to recuperate and perpetuate on the dials of Celadon’s watches. The brand new Celadon Century assortment is comprised of two fashions with beautiful cloisonné enamel dials and a 3rd mannequin with a regulator dial. A few of you may need seen the Century Cloisonné with an outline of Van Gogh’s “Starry Evening” when it was a candidate within the “Petite Aiguille” class of GPHG 2021. The operative phrase of the Century assortment is ‘handcrafted’, and the names of all of the masters concerned are talked about at each stage of the creation.
A moon-shaped case
The distinctive moon-shaped case of the Century responds to the Chinese language idea of yuanman (perfection and fulfilment) that’s expressed with spherical, curvaceous varieties. Made in 904L stainless-steel, the case measures 42mm throughout, has a thickness of 11.5mm and a lug-to-lug width of 47.4mm. Taking design cues from classical Chinese language structure, the left facet of the case emulates the form of classical Chinese language arch bridges, whereas the fitting facet with the crown evokes round Moon gates. A large flat crown to wind the handbook motion sits flush with the sweeping case that’s hand-finished with alternating satin-brushed and polished surfaces. Seen from the facet, you’ll be able to admire the meticulous brushed ending and polished bevels of the lugs.
Two of three Celadon Century fashions showcase beautiful cloisonné enamel dials handcrafted within the atelier of Grandmaster Xiong Songtao, a third-generation descendant of a household of enamellers as soon as employed by the Chinese language Imperial court docket. Representing Van Gogh’s “Starry Evening” and a traditional Chinese language motif often known as “Peacock and Peonies”, Chee’s alternative of material was to show Songtao’s dexterity in each Western and Japanese creative kinds. Practised in China for over 600 years, cloisonné enamelling arrived in China from Persia within the 15th century. Songtao’s approach differs from European cloisonné by his use of thinner gold wire (0.04 – 0.07mm thick), requiring extra ability and leading to a extra intricate picture. Working with a strong silver base, Songatao lays down the skinny gold wire cells earlier than making use of the enamel, which is then fired about 25 instances. Like every enamelling journey, many issues can go fallacious throughout the firing course of, however the payoff is a dial that can by no means change color, even after centuries.
The palms on the dial of the enamel fashions emulate the ‘eye’ of a male peacock’s feathers and are handmade and polished by Grasp Lin. The palms will also be warmth blued, like these featured on the “Peacock and Peonies” dial.
The Century Regulator shares the identical case specs because the enamel fashions however options a chic, minimalist silver-coloured dial with a traditional regulator format. Initially developed within the mid-18th century for grasp clocks to supply essentially the most correct time readings accessible, the distinctive characteristic of regulators was the separation of minutes, hours and seconds. The minutes are the true protagonists of the dial, whereas the hours and seconds are relegated to smaller sub-dials. Right here the minutes are relayed on a black railway-style monitor on the periphery and indicated with a central hand. The recessed sub-dials with snailed interiors home the hours at midday and the small seconds at 6 o’clock.
Motion by Lin Yong Hua
Designed as a base motion for future issues, the manual-winding calibre has been conceived and created from the bottom up by AHCI grasp watchmaker Lin Yong Hua (LYH). A distinguishing characteristic of Celadon’s calibre is the three-quarter bridge plated in rose gold with sweeping rounded curves and ruby chatons. As an alternative of the traditional Côtes de Genève, the bridges are adorned with round scroll stripes. The perlage, bevelled countersinks, anglage, chatons and Chinese language calligraphy are all executed by hand. Hidden below the mainplate, the barrel wheels have a sunburst end, and the centre star wheel bears a small LYH signature. Beating at 18,000vph, the motion delivers an influence reserve of 45 hours.
For an additional worth, Celadon can provide a spread of customisation choices. Finishings, plating colors (rose, yellow or white gold), bespoke engravings and even a hand-crafted Breguet overcoil can all be requested to personalise the motion. Moreover, the palms may be white gold-plated, absolutely blued or transition blued, and you may as well request a bespoke cloisonné dial design.
With out customisation extras, the worth of the Century Cloisonné enamel fashions is USD 11,900 and the Century Regulator USD 10,900. The bottom mannequin with a lacquered dial, not photographed right here, begins at USD 8,900. Choices are additionally accessible, equivalent to a Breguet overcoil (USD 2,000), handmade palms (USD 2,000) or a bespoke dial (USD 2,000).
For extra data, please go to celadonhh.com.