As the first and only high horology house to emerge from Singapore, a country long known for its sophisticated appreciation of watchmaking, BCHH has set a clear objective to be the best in the world in every artisan craft that the brand exemplifies.
New brands face many challenges in carving out their niche in an industry that has rarely been so competitive. With consumer confidence suffering a significant slump, many would-be brand owners dare not take on the market during such tumultuous times. One such man, however, seems unafraid to try new things, operating with self-confidence and an ever-expanding experience of an industry that takes no prisoners: Benjamin Chee is preparing to launch his third watch label under the name Benjamin Chee Haute Horlogerie. Collaborating with the ambitious Chee on this new project is esteemed movement manufacturer Vaucher, whose reputation for high quality underpins Chee’s central philosophies.
“I consider myself a perfectionist and cannot abide anything second-rate in my creations. Therefore, the only logical choice was to search out and partner with the very best suppliers in the industry, and to push them even further beyond their limits,” says Benjamin Chee, founder of BCHH.
Readers of aBlogtoWatch may recognize the name — Chee was responsible for founding both the Maison Celadon and Atelier Millésime brands. But now he stands on the cusp of his most ambitious project yet: The launch of his new flagship brand, Benjamin Chee Haute Horlogerie (BCHH).
BCHH was hand-picked by Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier to be the launch client for the latter’s two newly-launched micro-rotor calibers, the 5401/32 and 5401/33. Both movements are a significant functional and aesthetic upgrade over the venerable 5401 micro-rotor, with an improved micro-rotor design leading to far greater winding efficiency. Exquisite hand-finishing takes center stage for the 5401/32, intended to be the more classically elegant caliber, with four sharply beveled interior angles, considered to be the pinnacle of traditional Swiss artisan movement finissage. For the 5401/33, the more futuristic and sporty of the two micro rotors, anthracite galvanized coating and finely-crafted skeletonization offer a peek at the inner workings of the movement.
Carrying the time-only Vaucher 5401/32 movement to market is the ultra-thin Celestial model. The curved teardrop lugs ensure a snug, elegant fit to the wrist.
The more active alternative to the Celestial is the Sovereign, the super-thin sports watch from BCHH. This watch is powered by the 5401/33 and is fitted with a solid platinum dial. While the core version of the Sovereign will only feature a grained platinum dial, other materials (including those available on the Celestial model), are available through the customization department.
Either micro-rotor caliber may also be used in both models, according to the client’s preference. Being a boutique Haute Horlogerie brand which allows a much deeper and closer relationship with the client, a high degree of customization of each watch is possible, and every watch is made to order for each client. It is perhaps little surprise that the entire first production of 100 watches has been completely sold out, sight unseen, to close clients of the founder’s other brands.
And the future holds yet more exciting developments from a technical perspective. The launch of the BCHH Grand Complications line is imminent. For this, the brand has secured Vaucher’s finest movement, the caliber 5440 ultra-thin micro-rotor tourbillon, the thinnest micro-rotor tourbillon in the world at 3.4mm. Apart from Parmigiani (which uses a different variant), BCHH is the first and only brand in the world to use this premier caliber. The tourbillon will be deployed in both Sovereign and Celestial models, allowing the collector a choice of ultra-thin sports or dress versions, or ideally, both. A perpetual calendar and an exclusive complication atop a chronograph are both also in the works. With the production of all Grand Complications capped at the single digits for each reference, these rarefied watches are reserved only for a select few connoisseurs.
BCHH is the First watch brand in the world to use these new movements. These ultra-thin calibers show the hours and minutes at the center and, on some models (not the silk or enamel dials), a small seconds hand at 6 o’clock. The movements are comprised of 160 components, have a 21,600vph operating frequency, a variable inertia balance with gold inertia blocks for improved isochronism, blued screws, multiple surface finishes, bicolor engraving, and a power reserve of 48 hours. All BCHH timepieces are also chronometer-certified.
Both the Celestial and Sovereign are crafted from either 904L Stainless Steel, 18K Rose Gold, or 950 Platinum. Using 904L as opposed to 316L is another step taken by Chee to set the brand apart from the competition. The cases are 38mm wide and just 8mm thick. The strap is 20mm wide at the lugs and the watches are all water-resistant to 30 meters.
The high-craft dials are for those who appreciate the years of training and hours of focus required to create something so beautiful. Chee has sought out master craftsmen from around the globe to perform the most intricate tasks for his brand. Remarkable levels of manual skill and dexterity are on display at BCHH, and that talent is obvious in the finished product. The Celestial comes with five different dial options — cloisonné enamel, Suzhou silk embroidery, Hetian imperial jade, aventurine, and platinum. The time is indicated by skeletonized Feuille hands on all models.
The cloisonné enamel and Suzhou silk embroidery dials are some of the finest in the industry. For the cloisonné enamel, BCHH uses a finer gold wire than any other manufacture in the world. This wire is used to form the cells that will be filled with enamel by a master craftsperson. And the level of finery on display in BCHH’s silk embroidery dials is stunning. The swallowtails of the Celestial “Duo of Swallows” are so intricate that they require embroidery of one-sixteenth of a typical silk thread.
In keeping with the brand’s focus on fine art high horology, BCHH will also explore fine art collaborations with prominent artists from around the world. The first season of the Celestial Fine Art Collection will involve celebrity artist Seb Janiak from France, known for his artful manipulations of insect wings made to look like blooming flowers, done purely with old-school analog methods, and Massimo Gammacurta from Italy, who was commissioned by the New York Times in 2018 to create a globe lollipop for the New York Times Magazine. These artworks, Mimesis and Lollipop respectively, will be rendered on watch dials in cloisonné enamel, adding yet another layer of artistry. Only ten such watches will be made for each artwork edition – six in steel, two in rose gold and two in platinum, never to be re-issued again, ensuring a strong residual value at auction for decades and perhaps centuries to come, and furthering BCHH’s desire to intersect the worlds of fine art collecting and high horology.
Only one brand in the world uses the highest grade of jade for its dials, and that is BCHH. Hetian imperial jade was once reserved only for the Emperors of China and is worth more than its weight in gold. The brand has also developed a patented method to create celadon jade, which has the characteristic crazing of classical celadon porcelain. This effect combines modern innovation with an ancient treasure.
The Celestial and Sovereign are both priced at $18,900 in Platinum. All watches come with a 10-year international guarantee and will be delivered within six months of the order date. Prices for the fine art and grand complication collections will be available on the application. It is possible to commission completely customized dials with the BCHH Bespoke service. Interested clients may register their interest directly by contacting [email protected]. BCHH watches are available exclusively at BCHH.ch.
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