Sablier is the story of a man who had an idea for a watch, and decided to make it. The watch industry is full of personal success stories such as this whereby through pain, effort, and determination a person can fulfill the fantasy of wearing (and selling) a timepiece that they designed. There are few other spheres of life where producing your own machine is even remotely accessible for most people without enormous budgets. To produce a car, bike, or boat as a pet project is almost impossible, though a timepiece is something that can be done, and when possible we like to herald those instances on aBlogtoWatch. This is our review of the Sablier Grand Cru.
While it is not obvious at first, Kun-Chi Wu, who designed the Grand Cru, was inspired by wine. The design and theme of the timepiece are all about it. "Grand Cru" is actually "great growth" in French and is also a regional wine classification- so that is where the watch name comes from. The shape of the case when looking at it from the side is inspired by wine glasses, and the seconds hand is inspired by the look of a corkscrew. Having said that, the most interesting design feature of the Grand Cru is something entirely different.
What apparently started Mr. Wu's quest to design a watch was a failed search for a particular feature that he felt would improve the durability or longevity of a timepiece. The issue related to protecting the watch crystal, a relatively delicate part of a watch case. It is true that sapphire crystals are highly scratch resistant, but if subjected to shock they can break. So what Sablier does is offer a sapphire crystal that is curved inward rather than flat or domed.
Sablier even has a US patent on the application of a concave curved sapphire crystal in a watch- a patent they happen to be really proud of. Thus, the case has a bowl-style look to it with a uniquely shaped sapphire crystal. This offers a combined look of something traditional with something new. There is something slightly Bauhaus about the design as well, which adds an interesting twist to the overall aesthetic.
A fun little detail that I enjoy is the crown, which is placed at 2 o'clock so as to not jab into your wrist. No, that isn't the detail I am referring to. Rather that the concave look of the crystal is mimicked in the crown, which I find charming. The case overall is in polished steel and 44mm wide. This makes it a large watch, but not huge. It is certainly not trying to be a petite dress watch, but it doesn't have the look or feel of a large sport watch. Instead the Sablier Grand Cru is more of a lifestyle statement watch, which is a bit more mainstream than the "art watch."
The brand offers a few dial styles and I happened to like this one due to the modern Bauhaus look as I mentioned before. Having said that, it is not overly minimalistic, but is well-proportioned. I honestly didn't think of the seconds hand as being related to a corkscrew until I was told about it. That makes sense, but I enjoyed looking at it like part of an electronic circuit schematic. While the dial is pleasantly interesting and easy to read, it does fail in not having any luminant (though the contrast is good enough to see in low light).