April 15, 2009
by Ariel Adams
The second watch from the still new Maitres du Temps watch brand is the Chapter Two (which of course has followed the Chapter One). The term “triple date” comes from the fact that the calendar features, 1) the day, 2) date, and 3) month. Interestingly enough, the watch went from ultra complex, to something more simple and ‘live-with-able’ on a daily basis. While the Chapter One is a beautiful and decadent masterpiece of form and complexity, the Chapter Two is more akin to a nice looking watch that won’t intimidate people seeing you wear it as much – as I have always felt the Chapter One is more like a watch made for royalty. The same basic dimensions for the case are used, but somehow the look is totally different. A fact that really has to do with the dial looking different — more direct on function, and not as showy with the complications. See my discussion of the Maitres du Temps Chapter One watch here, which I did enjoy a great deal.
The Chapter One/Two watch cases are still some of the only tonneau shaped cases that I could see myself wearing. Typically I don’t like the barrel shape, but it is done so nicely here, I can’t help but want to wear one. It is important that the roller indicators on the top and bottom help serve to break up the long shape. So even though the watch is in a tonneau-shaped case, the face is basically a square, and the watch face is round. This mixture of shapes helps create a piece that does in fact look more like a work of functional art on your wrist rather than just a nice watch. Along those lines, you can see in the video that this watch is in fact the design result of collaborating watch making masters. If they don’t know what they are doing when it comes to watch making – no one does.
The case of course is 18k red gold, with all the materials being of ultra-high quality. Size of the movement (calibre SHC01) itself is 45mm tall, 32mm wide, and 9mm thick – which is reasonable given the level complications. The case is big, but not too massive at 52mm tall, 42mm wide, and 18mm thick. It goes without saying that a watch like this enjoys stupendous craftsmanship with a in-house movement. More important is the dream team of watch making masters that collaborated on the design of this watch. This includes two people from the Chapter One design, Peter Speake Marin and Roger Dubuis. New for the team is Daniel Roth. A new member to the team will be added for the follow up watch next year, the Chapter Three.
One thing that I said about the Chapter One watch that is still true with the Chapter Two is the fact that the watch is both function and luxury oriented. For example, look at the rear of the watch were the two buttons are located to change the day and month — they are simple looking buttons that actually are labeled. You don’t see a lot of that on luxury watches. The fact that they are quick set buttons actually helps too, as opposed to putting everything into the crown, making adjustment of the watch a pain. Then you have the face of the watch itself. Clean, yet decorated, and features that have an emphasis on telling the time. The big date complication is nicely integrated, and the lack of separation between the windows helps remind you that two discs, instead of one are involved in telling the date. Then there of course is the luxury, such as the six sapphire crystals all over the watch making it easy to read and easy to appreciate.
Of course I love the fact that the watch is an automatic. I love a nicely decorated exhibition movement, but sometimes I really just want something that I don’t have to wind. The axe-like rotor is skillfully designed, but really there to make owning the watch easier. Decoration on the movement and dial abound. From texturing to guilloche engraving, everything is there to enhance the basic functionality, not distract from it. The big news about the Chapter One watch was the roller based moon phase and month, which are thankfully employed here, but as the day and month instead. That is a complication whose novelty won’t soon wear off for me. What an amazingly convenient complication, and the rollers themselves are constructed from black anodized aluminum. Attached to the watch is a black alligator strap with a matching gold deployment.
Having said all that I think the Maitres du Temps is a luxury watch made for a select few. Actually, I don’t need to say that, as that IS the case. It is not going to be a “design classic.” The watch is more akin to a luxury timepiece built for those of royal demeanor (as I seem to keep repeating, but it is true). You won’t see this watch in a ‘good watch design book’ 40 years from now. You are more likely to see it in a museum, or being auctioned for astronomical prices. Maitres du Temps is creating modern treasures for those worthy of passing down relics or ‘a legacy.’ There won’t be a collectors market, because there will be just a few collectors lucky and wealthy enough to own them. It is a watch for a different class of person. Not necessarily a better or more successful type, but those people to whom aristocracy is a status quo, and not just bygone status of another time, in a different world. Price for the Chapter Two watch will be less than the Chapter One as it is less complicated, and will be for $66,000.
Learn more about Maitres du Temps watches here: