It’s been quite a year for Trilobe, the independent watchmaker from Paris that combines French creativity and design sensibility with Swiss artisanship. From preselection at the Grand Prix d’ Horlogerie de Genève for the Nuit Fantastique to raising an outstanding 100,000CHF at the Only Watch charity auction, 2021 has seen Trilobe hit its stride in watchmaking. As the year comes to a close, what better time to reflect and celebrate the year’s accomplishments.
For the third year in a row, Trilobe has been nominated to the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) — quite an accomplishment, as the young brand has only been in existence for three years. Clearly, the French brand’s singular approach to watchmaking is resonating in the world of haute horlogerie. This year, it was Trilobe’s Nuit Fantastique that received the nod from GPHG, preselected within the Petite Aiguille category.
In creating the Nuit Fantastique, Trilobe’s idea was to reimagine the conventions of traditional watchmaking — from hands to symmetry — but do so in a way that is both elegant and approachable. Available in rose gold or stainless steel and housed within either a 38.5mm or 40.5mm case, the case shape is familiar, yet beautifully refined, with sculpted lugs, and a brushed midcase that sets off the high polish finish found across the rest of the case. Yet, the traditional case shape only serves to juxtapose the all-but-traditional dial.
The dial of the Nuit fantastique is minimalist in its design, but not in its execution. Whether in black, silver, blue, or the newly introduced chocolate hue of the Havana Edition, the dials are finished with a grained dial that provides a unique and elegant texture that is extremely difficult to produce. Yet, that is only one of three finishes you’ll find on the dial, with a seconds wheel that contains Clous de Paris finishing at the center, surrounded by an azured ring.
As eye-catching as the finishes on the dial are, your eye is immediately drawn to the asymmetry of the piece and the clearly unconventional mode of telling the time. An hour ring runs along the periphery of the dial, which at first glance could be mistaken for traditional hour markers, but it quickly becomes clear that the entire hour ring rotates counter-clockwise, with the current hour indicated at 12 o’clock. The minutes are then indicated within an aperture that displays the time on an hour wheel that rotates beneath the dial. The seconds wheel, with its sublime finishing, then rotates freely beneath the minutes aperture. With no hands and each wheel rotating counter-clockwise, the Nuit Fantastique challenges our perceptions of time-telling, but does so in a surprisingly accessible way.
Time-telling on the Nuit Fantastique is made possible by the X-Centric caliber, which was developed exclusively for Trilobe. Just as the dial challenges the way in which we tell time, the movement challenges our assumptions about movement architecture. Visually striking and unabashedly modern, the X-Centric movement is equipped with a micro-rotor and a 48-hour power reserve, all while beating away at 28.8kbph.
While Trilobe is first and foremost a watchmaker, in joining the 2021 edition of Only Watch, the brand decided to challenge itself by producing a desk clock executed in the brand’s distinct style. For those unfamiliar, Only Watch is a biennial auction that raises money for research on Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The success of the auction has been phenomenal, due to the infectious passion of Only Watch founder Luc Pettavino and the generosity of brands and bidders alike. Only Watch is unique: Just 1% of the funds go towards organizational and operational costs, while the rest of the funds go directly to research. Clinical trials for treatments are already set to begin in 2022, clearly demonstrating the impact that the organization is making, providing hope to thousands of young people suffering from the disease.
In 2021, Trilobe once again was honored to participate in Only Watch. This year, the brand decided to create a pièce unique in collaboration with renowned sculptor Daniel Buren. The result was La Réciproque (The Reciprocal). Based on reciprocal forces that act upon each other, La Réciproque was designed as a playful encounter between opposing forms and colors, or as they put it “Art and watchmaking oppose and meet each other, in reciprocal forces.”
Mirroring the triple-wheel philosophy found in its watches, the hours, minutes, and seconds each dance around each other, circular elements set in opposition to bold black and white vertical stripes, the blood-red heart of the movement beating inside. As the minutes and hours tick by, the lines descend to disorder, finding symmetry and order only at the time of the first meeting between Daniel Buren and Trilobe at 2:13. When La Réciproque hit the auction block at Only Watch, it far exceeded expectations, fetching an outstanding 100,000 CHF.
In the few short years the brand has been operating, Trilobe has clearly captured the hearts and minds of the watch community. The brand’s success is no surprise, given their distinctive blend of French design sensibility, Swiss craft, and a penchant for challenging tradition and upending expectations. To learn more about Trilobe and its commitment to fine watchmaking, be sure to visit the brand’s website.
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