However, with the watch industry nowadays behaving more like a fashion (if not fast fashion) business in the sense that major brands pretty much adhere to a pre-defined, busy new product release timetable - one that culminates around February/ March during which SIHH and Baselworld take place - it can feel like a bit of an information overload at times.
But that's not the entirety of the watch world. Occupying a relatively small (by production volume) but important space within which are the independents. Those that work at their own paces, taking their time to crystallize their craftsmanships and deliver the most exquisite, albeit not neccessarily the most fanfare-inducing, timepieces.
Today we go deep on a very specific type of wristwatch, made by Atelier de Chronométrie, a truly special independent watchmaker from Barcelona operating on a small scale, that transcends all the glamour, busyness and vanity associated with the watch industry at large: the time-only wristwatches with outstanding movement finishing by hand. Here at Lengbeau we do not shy away from declaring our love for our good old time-only vintage pieces, having repeatedly featured them in our Weekend Brunch Reports. It's hard to deny their charm and pureness, and they are as close to a piece of time-telling jewelry as it gets, if properly made and decorated. Guys, watchmaking doesn't getter any purer than this. Let's check them out.
Atelier de Chronométrie the Company
Despite being a very young company, AdC has gained considerable exposure and coverage by participating in a number of watch exhibitions including the SalonQP in London. And I can only imagine it gaining even more popularity going forward for what it has achieved so far with its collection of watches. Now let's take a look at them.
Time-Only, Traditionally-Styled Wristwatches the Calling Card
On the far left you have the Adc #1, the company's inaugural piece that features a strong, clean, three-body coin edge case reminiscent of vintage Longines, with a sector dial that's available in either black or silver. The hour and minute hands are of leaf shape and a small second is employed, sitting right above 6 o'clock. Being the model the launched that company, the Adc #1 makes for an unmistakable statement of AdC's vision.
In the middle is the Adc #2 (a personal favourite, by the way), a classically imagined timepiece with a delicate three-body case embodying more curvatures compared to what we see in the Adc #1. The black glossy gilt dial is what makes this one so very tasteful, perfectly complemented by the Breguet numberals in 18k rose gold. The second hand is moved to the center of the watch and that, along with the dart-shaped hour and minute hands, are also made out of 18k rose gold.
On the right is the company's latest creation, Adc #3. The Adc #3 is a tweaked version of the Adc #1, with slight variation in the case/ lug shape and a completely revamped, Art Deco dial (a style of design in full swing during the early part of 20th century), which could be further customized at the customer's request. The two-tone dial encompasses a vibrant aesthetics and different finishing techniques. We simply don't see watches done this way anymore these days and in all honesty, it's a pity to say the least. That's why it is so refreshing to see someone trying to bring back the watches from the good ol' days. And the Adc #3 absolutely looks the part.
What makes AdC such an impressive watchmaker is its ability to stay extremely faithful to its source of inspiration, which clearly lies in the past, in the designing and creating of its products, while maintaining a distinct, modern touch so as to avoid being come across as just another "homage" affair. It's a dangerously fine line to walk, yet AdC seemingly breezes through it without any problem. So kudos to the AdC team on that.
And the awesomeness certainly doesn't end with the styling of the watches. There are even more going on with the movements.
Exquisite Finishing of Omega Calibre-Based Movements
Not unlike some of the most revered independent master watchmakers (such as Kari Voutilainen), AdC fitted its early creations with heavily modified and extensively decorated movements based on existing calibres. Voutilainen has done so with his Observatoire with the Peseux caliber 260, whereas for AdC, they turned to the reliable, chronometer-grade Omega-based calibres from the mid-20th century. For example, Adc #2's movement is based on the Omega calibre 283.
New parts were handmade by AdC and incorporated into the base movements as appropriate and detailed finishing is bestowed upon every part of the movement to give rise to the result shown in the picture above. The bridges, for instance, were "frosted", while the screws and rachet wheels were purple-black polished. Your usual anglage and perlage could be found on every AdC movements, too. Modifications such as the gold-plating of the brass wheels to avoid corrosion were carried out to further enhance the movement's functionality and aesthetics. The end result is a visually compelling movement combining classical architecture and contemporary treatment. What if you'd like to have your AdC movements handled in some other combination of finishing techniques? That's fine too, just let the company know your preference and they will fulfill it to the extent practical, which is awesome. Is there a better way to truly "own" a watch by having the movement finishing done to your exact specification? We don't think so!
The Great Comeback of Beautifully Decorated Time-Only Watches
And it appears AdC is not the only company on board with this philosophy.
Raul Pagès, the young Le Locle-based antique timepieces restorer turned master watchmaker, unveiled his first time-only wristwatch recently, named Soberly Onyx after the black onyx used as the dial material. The movement finishing is, unsurprisingly for a watchmaker operating at this level, generous, delicate and strikingly visible.
But if you need something to anchor your sense of reason in this often hyped-up luxury watch world where things happen on the fast lane and astronomical figures being tossed around on a daily basis, a well made time-only is a good place to start, for all the reasons aforementioned. And there's certainly no shortage of watchmakers in the market that champion the same thinking. Fab.
Until next time.