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The modern wristwatch was born, not in the boardroom, but in the trenches. In the heat of battle, scrambling to extract a pocket watch from your fatigues to coordinate the next attack could cost vital seconds. Those seconds could be the difference between life and death. Though Abraham-Louis Breguet introduced the world to the wristwatch nearly a century earlier, it wasn’t until the Boer War, at the close of the 19th century, that the wristwatch, hitherto largely confined to the wrists of women, became an indispensable tool. Soldiers began soldering lugs to their pocket watches to create rudimentary wristwatches in an effort to save those precious seconds. By the time the first world war began, the value of wristwatches had been well-established, and Swiss brands like Patria were tapped to supply watches to the soldiers on the front line, fighting in the trenches. Honoring this history, Patria has created the Brigadier Tourbillon Subscription Edition, a classically styled trench watch that pays respect to the brand’s past, while adding the elegance and panache of the finest in Swiss watchmaking.
Though the modern incarnation of Patria was resurrected in 2019, the brand has a long and rich history in Swiss watchmaking. Founded in 1892, the brand can trace its lineage in watchmaking through the Jura Mountains back to 1842, when Louis Brandt established Comptoir d’établissage, creating pocket watches from parts sourced locally in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. Brandt’s sons eventually founded Patria Watch Co. in Bienne, with the goal of focusing specifically on wristwatches. Thus, when World War I was in full swing, Patria was perfectly positioned to produce the watches requested by the War Office. Patria began supplying the Patria 13”’ (Lignes), a 36mm wristwatch that featured large radium numerals, allowing soldiers to read the time in the dark.
Though Patria was supplying a massive number of watches to soldiers during the first world war, the brand would fade into history by the 1940s, as the owners shifted focus to other brands. This rich history would have been lost entirely if not for British watch designer Jolyon Lambert and co-founder Adam Stansfield, who decided to resurrect the brand in 2019.
The co-founders describe their decision to bring Patria back to life: “Our choice was to resurrect a heritage brand instead of embarking on a completely new venture. As passionate watchmaking enthusiasts, our goal was to become guardians of history and tradition. During this pursuit, we discovered Patria Watch Co, a remarkable historical brand on the verge of fading into obscurity. Our mission became clear: to salvage this venerable name and prevent it from being lost in the annals of time. However, our intentions reached far beyond the mere creation of a watch brand. We firmly believed that tradition forms the foundation for innovation. Therefore, our latest horological creations serve as a tribute to the revered watchmakers of the past, while incorporating our own inventive spirit and artistic finesse.”
In other words, Patria is much more than just a name on a dial. In its second release, Patria has riffed on the historic trench watch from the archives, using the traditional trench watch design and architecture to create something surprising and new with the addition of a tourbillon in the 6 o’clock position.
Though it’s nearly impossible for a tourbillon not to take center stage on the dial, the backdrop is equally important for allowing it to shine. Patria has faithfully captured the design language of the 3 ADJ trench watches, with a pad-printed white enamel dial with military numerals that are hand-painted Frédéric Thierry and his team in La Chaux de Fonds. Thierry then took things a step further, creating a custom Super-LumiNova pigment that would match the radium used in the original trench watches.
Set off against the white enamel and caramel-colored numerals is a set of gorgeous heat-blued and flame-shaped hands. To acquire the deep, color-shifting blue, Patria uses a proprietary Flame-Anglage technique that produces the blue coloration while maintaining the anglage on the hands. The hands then receive the same Super-LumiNova as the numerals.
Now we arrive at the tourbillon. For the Brigadier Subscription Edition, Patria developed its first proprietary movement, the PA-130, working in collaboration with renowned watchmaker, Olivier Mory, one of the brand’s core members. The PA-130 features an open-face tourbillon cage with an impressive 110 hours of power reserve. Of course, with a movement like this, you need to flip the watch over to fully appreciate the artisanship and details.
The movement is hand-finished, with anglage and polishing by Philippe Narvel — a craftsman who honed his impeccable skills during eight years with Audemars Piguet and is celebrated for his unparalleled anglage. Please note that the prototype showcased here features sandblasting on the bridges, but on the final production version, you’ll find floral-shaped bridges finished with Côtes de Genève, anglage, and gold-filled engravings. The mainplate will feature a mix of brushing and perlage under the ratchet. Simply put, the movement will be a joy to behold.
The stainless steel case on the Patria Brigadier Subscription Edition measures in at a wrist-friendly 39.5mm in diameter. The case is clean and elegant, directing your eye to the stunning dial. Patria mixes surfaces and textures, with vertical brushing on the lugs and midcase, set off by a high polish bezel and chamfers along the lugs. Patria then tops things off with an anti-reflective box sapphire crystal atop the watch and a flat sapphire display caseback. Yet, the watch still manages to come in at a slim 12mm in height.
The Patria Brigadier Tourbillon Subscription Edition is limited to just 40 pieces. Despite the low numbers and the remarkable amount of time and craft that went into producing these watches, Patria is offering them for 18,000 CHF (plus taxes and shipping) with the goal of cultivating lifelong patrons of the brand. A 6,300 CHF deposit is required to place an order, with the remainder due before delivery of the watch. The Brigadier Tourbillon Subscription Edition is available for order now at the brand’s website.Sponsored Posts are a form of advertising that allows sponsors to share useful news, messages, and offers to aBlogtoWatch readers in a way traditional display advertising is often not best suited to. All Sponsored Posts are subject to editorial guidelines with the intent that they offer readers useful news, promotions, or stories. The viewpoints and opinions expressed in Sponsored Posts are those of the advertiser and not necessarily those of aBlogtoWatch or its writers.