ylvain Pinaud was one of the more exciting discoveries to be made at this year’s Baselworld, in the “Incubator” section.
As he himself states in his own simple, transparent way: “I love this timepiece, I think it’s beautiful… So why not make it available to people who love fine watches!” Quite incidentally, this object of his affection won him first prize in the French national “Meilleur Ouvrier de France” (Best Artisan in France) competition.
Since it was created for a competition the timepiece is, again simply and transparently, styled “Chronographe Monopoussoir Artisanal”.
Given his talent and the driving enthusiasm he radiates, I would be very surprised if we had heard the last of Sylvain Pinaud. Pursuing his independent path, in late 2017 he set up a business in Sainte-Croix, a genuine watchmaking incubator which has hatched names such as Denis Flageollet from De Bethune and Vianney Halter, as well as numerous automaton specialists and high-flying artisans. Today, he is offering to produce his Chronographe Monopoussoir to order, with the proviso that “given the artisanal production method and high degree of finishing, a very limited, numbered amount of watches will be produced.”
Taken apart and redesigned
The competition rules stated that watches had to be based on an ETA 6497 movement. Of this movement, Sylvain kept only the gears and the escapement. The rest – the balance wheel, winding system, bridge and base plate – he re-engineered and rebuilt himself so as to be able to integrate the monopusher chronograph with its horizontal clutch and column wheel. This modification was, in his view, self-evident, given that it was “beautiful, simple and effective”.
He redesigned everything – springs, jumpers, levers – endowing the delicate functions and other functions with strong constraints with ruby bearings. The great majority of the parts were made by hand and on conventional machines. The tempering, bluing, decorating and polishing was all done the traditional way. All the steel is black polished and hand-bevelled, the wheels are bevelled and with circular graining, the main plate is grained and the upper bridge is straight-grained.
Architecturally, this is a beautiful watch: balanced, harmonious and delicate. Light penetrates joyfully, playing with depth. Inside, the chronograph sequence – clutch, declutch and zero reset – is easy to observe. The whole thing was designed and built around the chronograph function, reading it and watching the show as it plays out. Placed under a broad sapphire crystal and enclosed in a case “of simple design”, as he says, which is machined from a grade-5 titanium block, the chronograph remains sober in design, “in the style of marine chronographs”. The case back reveals only the balance spring and its bridge.
The timepiece presented in Basel is a prototype, and Sylvain Pinaud intends to make further “tiny adjustments and minor modifications, including shortening the crown, which is a bit long, and accentuating the contrast of the minute counter. But each piece produced will be customisable, in particular the colours of the dial and the rhodium plating.”
Here’s to the success of the Chronographe Monopoussoir Artisanal!
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