New watch brands are appearing more frequently these days, and I am not sure what that means. Have existing brands run their course? Or does starting a new brand give a special value to a watch? The reality is that many brands have the same (or some of the same people) behind them. If you have a good enough team together, maybe it is worth just giving their creations a brand name. Maitres du Temps is just such a brand. Built by a watch distributor combining the aggregated efforts of modern watch masters such as Peter Speake-Marin, Roger Dubuis, and Christophe Claret. Most of whom have brands under their own names. So why combine efforts? The business is competitive, but there must be some allure behind putting great minds together. I haven’t quite answered this question yet, but I am very impressed with the first offering from Maitres du Temps (Master of Time), simply titled, “Chapter One.”
The press materials make a big to do about the “historical achievement” in the combination of these complications all in one watch. That is nice, but honestly it does not get my gears turning. What excites me are the beautiful looks of this watch. What better way to stare at (probably over $100,000) than at such a timeless piece of art. It could be because of the “art watch” kick I am on lately, but more likely this is just a extremely well conceived watch. I’d only knock the fact that it is a manually wound watch, but that does give you the ability to really appreciate the movement through the back.
For starers I will mention what this watch does have. The movement is large at over 50mm high itself. The watch case dimensions are 62.6mm high and 45.9mm wide. Inside you’ll get a tourbillon, cylinder day and moonphase indicators, monopusher chronograph, retrograde date, and retrograde GMT. The case is gold (of course), and the strap is alligator. You can guess only the finest materials from around the globe (or Switzerland) are used. Right now, these are all trivial details to me as I am eager to discuss the looks of this stunning time teller.
The gentlemen who designed this watch really put in their heart and souls. For this watch to be so complicated and yet still look so good is a feat in itself. Often times the more you throw in a design, the worse it ends up looking. This is not the case here, as the eye is drawn to the larger shapes instead of the smaller details. When the user requires information, you can easily access the relevant field of the watch, without distraction or visual impingement. The overall shape you first notice is the tonneau case so artful and tasteful. But then, you are are drawn to the almost cushion shape of the actual dial, and the two smaller windows with the moonphase and day, which are above and below. We are not used to this separation in a watch face. We timidly accept this brave move and accept the success with which the face has been adeptly broken up. New dimensions are added to this graceful machine we gaze at, and a respect develops for that which is complex beyond our own abilities. A trait which is certainly enhanced by the skeletonized movement view within the tourbillon window.
Like famous world architecture, this watch is built to be both functional and aesthetic. The people responsible for not only making but buying this watch can afford to guild their belongings. A practice that ended on a mass level during the time of industrialization. Once master craftsmen stopped being responsible for producing the goods we purchase, so did the love and care that went into producing such goods. Sure the average person can afford a great more many things, but everyone deserves at least a few things given the mark of mastery.
So is the case with the Chapter One, lines that flow together, combined with functionality and purpose. The watch’s several functions are clear to read, and I take issue with anyone who does not have appreciation for at least the column wheel day indicator. One special little feature I love on this watch are the labels on the back telling you what the pushers do. It is realistic that you’d have to set this watch often (as it is manually wound). So Maitres du Temps takes the small effort necessary to label the pushers to alleviate frustration. As thorough user guides are about as rare as Timex watches are in the luxury watch world, it is nice to see some effort placed on the user experience.
I am charmed by the Chapter One, it is neither the most beautiful or complex watch ever made, but it is a superior unique piece which stands out in its attention to detail, beauty and class. I am not intimidated by this watch as may be the case for other timepieces in this price range ($395,000). I instead hold a certain respect for the effort and skill used to develop such a watch, as I respect the designers responsible for its inception and production.
Visit Maitres du Temps’ home page here for product and purchase information.