LAVENTURE TOTAL IMMERSION IN THE 1960s
The new brand Laventure appeared on Kickstarter in July 2017 with a debut collection of 150 watches called Laventure Marine. In 48 hours, 120 contributors helped it raise CHF 201,400. A resoundingly successful operation, thanks no doubt to the quality of this contemporary reinterpretation of the marine watches of the 1960s, right in line with millennial tastes.
Clément Gaud, the man behind Laventure, is a Neuchâtel-based designer who, after five years in a watch design agency, decided to take the plunge. After this first success, he is back this year with Laventure Sous-Marine, a new limited series immaculately designed and built from start to finish in La Chaux-de-Fonds. A 41mm stainless steel or bronze case, a screw-down crown guaranteeing water-resistance down to 200m, a totally vintagelook, super-domed sapphire crystal, a pared-down, ultra-legible “sandwich” dial, an ETA 2824-2 automatic movement, a screwed, engraved back in stainless steel, one strap in calfskin and a second one in rubber; all of this set in a case inspired by antique editions of Jules Verne and selling at CHF 2,350.
HEGID NOT REVOLUTIONARY, EVOLUTIONARY
How do you make an object, intended from the moment of its creation to be unchanging, evolve? The French start-up Hegid has developed a concept of watch heads which combine with a series of different casebands and straps. The identity change should not take more than 10 seconds – thanks to an exclusive system – which makes the notion of “evolutionary watch” sound far less formidable. With this project, the brand hopes to recast the very foundations of wrist sociology. Seizing on the fashion for modularity, which is increasingly popular in watchmaking, Hegid has applied it to mechanical watches and is pushing the exercise to the very limits.
These evolutionary watches start at 2,400 euros for a capsule called Neo or Retro, equipped with a Swiss-made movement. The casebands, round or square, cost between 250 and 400 euros. Lastly, the straps in calfskin, alligator, ostrich or buffalo skin are available at 80-200 euros. There is even a new selection of straps in SuperLuminova (made in collaboration with Atelier du Bracelet Parisien) and Squama, an environmentally friendly material made from marine leather (in partnership with Cuir Marin de France). Each watch comes in a box precisely designed to accommodate the different modules, casebands or straps. Hegid has already announced new modules for its capsules: a power reserve indicator, date, and even a second time zone.
MAURON MUSY A WATCH AND MANIFESTO
“Robust, sporty and sleek, yet also refined, intriguing, sophisticated…” all these adjectives are used by Mauron Musy, founded in 2013 by Eric Mauron and Christophe Musy, both experts in precision mechanics, to describe the new Armure MU03. Its design, described as “industrial”, is expressed in an imposing 44mm case carved from a titanium block. It comes equipped with the patented sealing system featuring a nO-Ring® waterproof seal, which guarantees water-resistance to 300m, making the MU03 the only mechanically sealed, gasket-free watch. The 36 technical components that go to make up this case have a characteristic impact on the design.
Delivered with two straps, in rubber and leather, which can be changed without tools, the MU03 is equipped with an automatic in-house movement, the MM01. This hours, minutes, seconds and power reserve (55 hours) watch was developed in collaboration with movement manufacturer Lajoux-Perret and elaborately finished to give it a highly contemporary, industrial look. It comes with the label “Swiss Crafted”, signifying that it was designed, manufactured and crafted exclusively in Switzerland. A kind of “industrial manifesto” promoted by the brand’s two creators.
RESERVOIR A MANOMETER ON YOUR WRIST
in 2015 by François Moreau, a former banker who left after 25 years and a collector of counters and gauges from his most tender youth, Reservoir has the distinguishing feature of being directly inspired, in the way it is read, by antique measurement instruments. It has a 240° retrograde minute counter in the style of a rev counter, manometer or depth gauge, a jumping hours aperture reminiscent of a milometer, and a power reserve which is a reproduction fuel gauge. The display is powered by a patented proprietary module based on an ETA 2824-2.
After collections dedicated to automobiles and aeronautics, this year Reservoir presents the diving collection Hydrosphère. The dual scale of its unidirectional rotating ceramic bezel enables decompression stop times to be read at a glance. It also has a helium valve and a rotating seconds indicator, showing that watch is running, positioned at the base of its single hand. €4,250.
SINGER RECONSTRUCTING THE CHRONOGRAPH
Singer was born of an encounter between Rob Dickinson, the founder of Singer Vehicle Design, and Marco Borracino, a watchmaker- designer, joined by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht of Agenhor. This master watchmaker supplied the AgenGraphe, a revolutionary chronograph with indications of extraordinary legibility and outstanding features. No more subdials: the chronograph function is now displayed by three central hands, while the hours and minutes indicators are relegated to the dial periphery and take the form of two rotating discs and a pointer at 6 o’clock. All 477 components of this very beautiful movement are visible through the sapphire on the watch back, as the central position of the chronograph left enough room to place the rotor on the dial side. This central display fits perfectly into the tonneau-shaped case in grade-5 titanium. Slender, curved and with polished and satinbrushed surfaces, it has a crown at 4 o’clock and two ergonomic pushers on either side of the case.
In its latest edition, the Singer Track1 London Edition sports a deep blue dial and orange hands. It is mounted on a dark-coloured calfskin strap with eyelets in brushed titanium.
NORQAIN ALL ABOUT ADVENTURE, FREEDOM AND INDEPENDENCE
Norqain, founded by Ben Küffer in Nidau (Biel) not far from Tavannes, where the family has worked in watchmaking through four generations, had a formidable sponsor in Ben’s father, Marc Küffer, CEO of Roventa Henex, a major manufacturer of private-label, Swiss-made watches from 1988 to 2012.
This accumulated know-how, a well-filled address book and large production capacity have enabled Norqain to offer from the outset three collections of contemporary watches, for men and for women, all assembled in-house at Tavannes and exclusively mechanical, priced from CHF 1,500 to 4,500. The names say it all: Adventure Sport, Freedom 60 and, at the top, Independence, a limited, COSCcertified edition showcased at this year’s Baselworld.
This still youthful brand is already asserting its ambitions regarding distribution with the announcement of a network of 50 retailers, not counting the web, by the end of 2019.
Illustrated here is the Adventure Sport Chrono Auto DLC (with the brand’s characteristic “Norqain pattern”).
LYTT LABS THE FOUNTAINS OF SINGAPORE
Founded in 2014 by Edwin Seah, an industrial entrepreneur working in hardware and a keen watch collector, together with a partner, Lytt Labs aims to offer very urban-style timepieces at affordable prices for city dwellers with an affinity for traditional watchmaking, but still firmly grounded in their own time. No nostalgia for things vintage here: instead, a determination to assert their contemporaneity.
After a first model, Inception Version 1, in which the hours, minutes and seconds were indicated by discs with arrows pointing to the figures, the new Inception model is quite a different proposition. A central disc indicating the seconds is placed over two very broad, central hands indicating the hours and minutes. Inspired, according to its creators, by the public fountains which are havens of peace and tranquillity in most cities, this watch has retained the 45mm tonneau-shaped case in steel and sapphire crystal. Inside beats a Seiko NH 35 automatic movement. From €459.
FOB PARIS RADICALISM WITH ROOTS
Three young qualified engineers, Sari, Laurent and Aurélien, who were also childhood friends, fell under the watchmaking spell when one of their friends inherited a pocket watch from his grandfather. Fascinated both by the technical aspects and the aesthetics, they founded FOB Paris back in 2012. They made the reinterpretation of this pocket watch the signature product of their “French watchmaking studio”. And they insist on the “French” epithet, stressing that “everything is made in France and assembled in Besançon in a family workshop where four generations of watchmakers work”.
With a self-winding or solar-powered movement, made in PVDcoated stainless steel and equipped with sapphire crystals, their watches display a somewhat radical aesthetic, minimalist but not without emotion, rigorously geometrical and stripped to the essential in a wholly contemporary style. FOB Paris is already present in a large number of countries from France to Japan, as well as Russia, London and the Middle East.
MENINTIME UNDERSTATED ELEGANCE
completely oval. It’s a new shape. The strap is made up of 55 links, each individually cut and assembled. You’ve never seen a crown, dial or hands like these before; they’re unique!” says Vincent Rouillard, founder and CEO of Menintime. This designer, whose interest in watchmaking was born in his grandfather’s repair workshop in Nantes (FR), wanted to create “a jewel for men, sober and contemporary at the same time”.
To do so, he got in touch with a network of subcontractors in La Chaux-de-Fonds and produced a 100% Swiss-made watch. With its oval case melding with the beautifully composed strap of 55 individually cut and assembled links, the Paon – French for “peacock”, but no strutting here; all sobriety and delicacy – has a shape unlike any other.
With its vertical signature on dials pared down to the essential or featuring geometrically arranged figures, the Menintime, powered by an ETA 2895-2 automatic movement, presents itself as “a new brand in Swiss watchmaking” and indeed resembles nothing we have seen before. An elegant proposition, understated, contemporary and beautifully designed.
DAVID RUTTEN THE ANTIDOTE TO NEO-VINTAGE
Born in Brussels in 1974, David Rutten was quite naturally inspired by Art Deco, the city of his birth being a centre of that movement. Like many others of his generation he was also influenced by Japanese sci-fi anime films – Cobra, Ulysses 31 and Albator. Having graduated from La Cambre design school after producing a portfolio based on a collection of watches inclined at 15°, he was looking to produce a “total oeuvre”: in his words, to “perfect every aspect of a watchmaking project, from the storytelling and the philosophy to the style, shape, ergonomics, graphic universe and also the typography and packaging”.
The result of this “total” dream, the DR01 Streamline, is intended as a manifesto of his approach to watchmaking: “a brand entirely based on cases made of a material virtually unexploited in this context: the metal meteorite.” He is talking about the Muo Nio Nalusta, a meteorite that landed in Scandinavia around one million years ago. Discovered in 1906, it is 4.6 billion years old, which makes it the oldest known material on earth, dating from the very beginnings of our solar system.
The generously sized 37mm aperture display allows the fluted, retro-futurist case carved from this meteorite to express itself to the full. Displaying the hours on a jumping disc and the minutes and seconds on a trailing disc, the watch is powered by a “round mechanical calibre (which is not an ETA 2892 !)” [sic] that occupies all the space in the case and has a five-day power reserve. 88 items available solely by subscription, priced at €8,500.