How big is the Chapter One? Big. Ironically the Round wears better but on paper is larger. Not sure how that worked out. The original Chapter One in the tonneau-shaped case is 43mm wide, 63mm tall, and 18mm thick. The Chapter One Round is actually larger at 59mm wide, 62mm tall, and 22mm thick. Though because the top and bottom sections are thinner, it seems to wear better. Given that they are produced in all gold makes them even heavier. Though I believe that there are some hard-to-find titanium versions of the Chapter One Transparence out there.
For a half million dollar watch, the Chapter One is finished really well. The alternating brushed and polished finish make the case look interesting and very unique. I personally think the original Chapter One has a sexier looking case with more elegant curves, but the Chapter One Round certainly wears a bit better, and has a slightly more legible dial with those large lumed hands.
All this talk and we haven’t even discussed the “Transparence” part of the equation. What that means is that the dial has been replaced with a piece of slightly frosted sapphire crystal, allowing for a view into the movement. The hour markers and other indicators are still placed on the sapphire crystal as though it was a normal dial. So technically speaking this isn’t a skeletonized watch at all. Rather, as the name implies, it has a transparent dial. Under the dial you can see the hand-decorated movement.
Inside the Chapter One is the Christophe Claret produced caliber SHC2 or SHC2.1 (Round case) manually wound movement. Comprised of 558 parts, the movement is as complicated as you’d expect from a Claret. It has 60 hours of power reserve and operates at 21,600 bph. Functionally it includes a 60 minute chronograph, retrograde GMT indicator, retrograde date indicator, roller moon phase indicator, roller day of the week indicator, and it also has a tourbillon. Of course it has a tourbillon. Honestly, looking back on all this I am surprised Claret didn’t find a way of putting a minute repeater in the watch. Christophe loves minute repeaters and all things related to it (especially the hammer and gongs). Not that all his own watches have one, but even watches with no minute repeater often have a chiming function.
In short, the Maitres du Temps Chapter One is a chronograph GMT with an annual calendar tourbillon watch. All in a wildly designed case that you either love or hate. Maitres du Temps doesn’t shy away from the controversial design at all. In fact they embrace it. When it comes to watches of this price, a polarized opinion is a good thing. If you think about it, super high-end watches are purely about emotion. When emotions run hot they either go in the positive or negative direction. Maitres du Temps knows that their designs appeal to those who have pretty much worn it all and are looking for something different. The Chapter One watch is anything but ordinary.
If you want a more traditional looking watch from Maitres du Temps there is always the Chapter Three (hands-on here). Though for the ultra-watch collector who doesn’t want to populate their collection with more of the same, items from Maitres du Temps like the Chapter One Transparence are here to save the day. I honestly don’t know if I would wear one, but I sure as hell would love to own one – because this is really what half million dollar watches are all about. Price for the Maitres du Temps Chapter One Transparence watch is $494,000 and for the Chapter One Round Transparence is $540,000. maitresdutemps.com