Design studio Massena LAB has become very popular with the watch community for its use of attractive colors combined with clean dial designs. In the past, it has collaborated with other watch brands such as Ming, Habring2, and Unimatic, applying its designs to the dials of existing models. It has also produced a few offerings under the Massena name, such as the Dato-Racer and the vintage-inspired Uni-Racer chronograph. Until now they have been powered by off-the-shelf Sellita movements, but the latest release takes the brand to new territory. It has worked with Swiss independent watchmaker Raúl Pagès to develop the proprietary caliber M660 to power the new watch called the Magraph.
The new caliber is a manual-wind movement featuring a traditional layout with sub-seconds at 6 o’clock on the dial. It spins on 21 jewels and beats at 28,800 vph, yielding a power reserve of 48 hours. The movement is also traditionally finished. It features Côtes de Genève, hand-chamfered plates and bridges, as well as extensive perlage. Hiding under the balance wheel is the poinçon Pagès (a silhouette of a tortoise), the signature of its movement maker. An exhibition caseback allows owners to enjoy the view of their unique movement.
The dial of the Magraph was inspired by a mysterious 1933 pièce unique commissioned by a luxury retailer in Berlin. What this means is that the watch has a Bauhaus-inspired design, with simple geometric patterns and minimal text. This is in line with what one might expect from Massena LAB, but quite different from the elaborate dial ornamentation that one would expect on a watch with such a movement. Despite its restrained design, however, the dial and hands are still completed to a high level in images. The leaf-shaped hour and minute hands are heat-blued and provide a nice contrast. Behind them, this unique take on a sector dial starts with a subtle off-white center section. Thin, black lines show the hours, and a circularly-grained and rhodium-plated outermost sector ring is where the minutes are displayed. A radially grooved small subsidiary dial allows the seconds to be displayed with another heat-blued stick hand.
This is all packaged in a 38.5mm-wide by 10mm-thick case inspired by wristwatches from the 1940s and 50s. Produced in stainless steel, it uses a sloped polished bezel and has tapering lugs that are polished on top with brushing down the side of the case. A pill-shaped unsigned crown with deep grooves should be easy to grip, and a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides finishes things off. The included 20mm strap adds the proverbial “pop of color.” It is made from sustainably sourced sturgeon skin, dyed deep indigo, and highlighted with iridescent turquoise accents. The strap is designed exclusively for Massena LAB by renowned Parisian strap maker Jean Rousseau.
Brand founder and namesake William Massena describes the Magraph as “the realization of a long-held ambition” to design a watch with its own movement. He says that this marks a new chapter for Massena LAB, and based on the result, it is exciting to wait for what he will do next.
The watches will be available starting in December 2022, with approximately 15 to 20 watches produced per month. It includes a two-year guarantee, box, deerskin travel pouch, papers, and a Massena LAB NFC card. Only 99 pieces of the Magraph by Massena LAB and Raúl Pagès will be sold for $8,675 USD each. It’s a price much higher than the brand’s customers might be used to but could be considered a value when compared to other watches with movements made by independent watchmakers. To learn more, please visit the brand’s website.