It isn’t still a new release, but it is still darn good. The Shabaka watch by Jean Dunand is a special style of watch that takes a bit from the world of art deco (look up artist Jean Dunand and you’ll understand), and what feels like British mod artists in the early 1980s would have come up with if commissions to make a space ship (but a watch) designed by the ancient Egyptians. All that and a bag of tricks (the movement) as dreamed up and manufactured by Christophe Claret. The Egyptian theme is no accident either. The watch is intentionally done in this manner. The name “Shabaka” even refers to one of the Egyptian pharaohs who lived around 700 BC.
The Shabaka watch starts with a specially made Christophe Claret Calibre CLA88QPRM manually-wound movement. Complications are plentiful including a perpetual calendar three cylinder displays. The dial shows the time, day, date, month, leap year, and moon phase. This might be the first appearance of the cylinder style information window. This has been used on several watches since, most notably for the top and bottom displays on the Maitres du Temps Chapter One and Two watch. The Chapter One movement is also made by Christophe Claret. In addition to all this dial information, the Jean Dunand Shabaka is also a minute repeater. You can see the lever on the left side of the case. There is also a power reserve indicator, but you’ll have to look at the rear of the watch for that information (power reserve is open mainspring barrel with indicator bar). The movement is extremely complex, which is easy to tell by viewing the case back. I mean the thing has 721 parts. An incredible amount of pieces to shove into the 44mm wide x 17.65mm thick case. The movement plate itself is 29.5mm wide. The watch is not exactly a sport timepiece so you want to treat it well (you’ll be convinced of that if you are among the select few who can afford to acquire the watch). It has 30 meters of water resistance – meaning you can basically wash your hands with the watch.
The watch case comes in 18k red or white gold. For some reason I think there may be a platinum version available. You’ll have to ask Jean Dunand about that if you are interested. Watch the video and you can tell a bit more about the construction of the watch. The dial has so many layers and looks anything but “flat.” An interesting design point is the different color pushers one being red gold with the other being white gold – no matter the color of the case. The minute repeater uses two gongs to repeat the time back to you when the function is activated. A lever is required to operate it as the motion of pushing it down generates the power required to perform the complex gong and hammer operation.
The Jean Dunand Shabaka is one of the most difficult watches to sum up. It is likely to be a polarizing timepiece taste-wise. Personally I enjoy the design a great deal, though I can easily see how how some people would feel otherwise. Take the hands for example. Jean Dunand calls them “skyscraper hands.” I can see that. They look almost identical to the Transamerica building here in San Francisco that has a pyramid with spire shape. It is true that the watch can be defined more as a work of art than a hardcore timepiece – insofar that you can get carried away in looking at the dial and the complicated construction of the watch, forgetting to read the time. For me, it is a powerful design. It is a look that can be blown up and placed on the wall and still look good. It looks good on a watch, and I can even see derivatives of the design made that would also look great for another watch, or even a larger clock if Jean Dunand wished to produce such a piece.
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