duManege DM heritage RG WT

Baselworld 2017: three modest examples of watchmaking (#IMetAWatch)

They all have a connection with La Chaux-de-Fonds, they are all collectively grouped under the 'IMetAWatch' hashtag, and all three timepieces were recently rolled out at Basel. Simple, round… yet highly desirable!

By Joel Grandjean

Some encounters (#IMetAWatch) warm the cockles of the heart and lift the spirit. Some watches are seemingly simple, yet they exude a certain subtlety of execution. Not just content with time-telling, they also abound with stories of authenticity and charm.

DuManège, timelessness rediscovered

A firm staple in watchmaking terminology, the word "heritage" is omnipresent. Not just among those who commemorate and lay claim to an established watchmaking history, but also far younger watchmakers who resolve to build their businesses on inherited values. At duManège, the only watchmaking brand to affix ‘La Chaux-de-Fonds’ on its dials, the word ‘heritage’ is used to front a collection as pure and sleek as it is distinguished. It produces a ‘three-hand model, whose price positioning makes it more of an entry-level product. In all fairness, what other rose gold watch can say the same at a price point of under 8,000.- CHF, available also in a steel, or 18 K white gold version, whose unique composition in watchmaking terms renders the notoriously 'soft' material even harder than steel?

duManège Heritage Steel

The Ancien Manège of La Chaux-de-Fonds (in the canton of Neuchâtel) is a classified architectural gem situated in a town that is included in the Unesco World Heritage list. It also gave rise to the name of the street ("Rue du Manège" where the designer, Julien Fleury, a native of the town, decided to set up his office headquarters. Fleury continues to live in the same street and since 2011 has pursued the dream of creating a Swiss watchmaking brand, whose collections would be a tribute to the craftsmanship heritage in and around his birthplace. He therefore prefers to replace the "Swiss-made" appellation by the more deliberate ‘Crafted in Switzerland’. After a tentative start, the brand suddenly acquired an astonishing maturity, producing models such as this ultra-classic, no-frills timepiece, which transports us to a timeless dimension. Within this Golden Heritage piece, there beats a 21-jewel ETA 2892-2 calibre, a mechanical movement with automatic winding, boasting a date feature at 6 o'clock. Power reserve is 42 hours, the movement beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour, the case measures 42 mm in diameter and water-resistance is guaranteed to 30 metres.

duManège watch with art nouveau "sapin" style dial from Neuchâtel region with matching Pichette

Movado, the embodiment of purity

On first glance at this watch, there is a seemingly fine line between modernity and classicism. Following its creation in 1947, it became the first piece to secure a place (for its dial) in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art. Since then, it has become the definitive great classic. Its highly recognisable dial, sporting a sun positioned at 12 o'clock, is known as the ‘Museum Dial’. It is the work of an American industrial designer and disciple of the Bauhaus school, Nathan George Horwitt, whose creative mantra was to the effect that 'Time was not determined by a series of numbers, but by the position of the sun and the rotating earth.' He thus placed a solitary 'golden dot' at the zenith (symbolizing the sun) as a marker for the hands 'in perpetual motion' (Movado being the Esperanto term for 'movement'). The minimalist void of information contrasted starkly with the myriad indications featured on the dials of wristwatches. It was the epitome of sobriety. The brand created in 1881 at La Chaux-de-Fonds by the 19-year-old watchmaker, Achille Ditesheim, has retained its enviable youthfulness ever since.

Movado 1881 Automatic

For 2017, the model has captured the mood of the moment by assuming an extreme finesse of expression to become ’Mince Hyper’, the new family member of the Ultra Slim Collection. Xavier Gauderlot, the current CEO, has had managerial experience of 25 years in the luxury industry, 10 of which have been devoted to the MGI Luxury Group, which owns Movado. According to Gauderlot, the model sports 'a remarkably slim silhouette and an array of flexible styles that capture the current trend, while remaining true to the original design spirit of the Movado'. The collection includes a steel version with blue dial and a PVD-coated rose gold case with intense black dial. The timepiece has a 40 diameter dial, powered by a Swiss made quartz, and sells for under CHF 700.-.

Movado 1881 Automatic

Schwarz Etienne, all roads lead to Rome

...including those that lead between the walls of La Chaux-de-Fonds, where, until very recently, the legendary logo of this flagship brand adorned the old buildings' facades. The brand created in 1902 in La Chaux-de-Fonds by Paul Arthur Schwarz and his wife, Olga Etienne, embodies the glory days of Swiss watchmaking history, an era when its top-quality movements were being crafted for all the big names, including the notable Venus calibre. (see our article on Schwarz Etienne, a watchmaking legend relived)

Schwarz-Etienne Roma Manufacture GMT

In 2017, this Chaux-de-Fond creation has crossed yet another milestone by garnering the respect of yet more collectors in search of differentiation, independence, in-house crafted movements, historical timepieces and entrepreneurial prowess. There is talk in the corridors of Baselworld, from the name-dropping trend-setters through to the demand-driving serial buyers, that Schwarz Etienne, now in the hands of Raffaello Radicchi, is THE discovery of the moment, the hot news circulating on the insiders' grapevine, the name on every connoisseur's lips. The Maison has reconnected with its past under the direction of Mauro Ebermini through the workshop manufacture of such movements as the noteworthy Roma calibre, 42 mm in diameter, which caters to all the current trends in its steel, two-tone or all-gold versions. The MSE 100.00 is a fine double-barrel movement, offering 4 days power reserve (nearly 100 hours) and beating at a rate of 21,600 vibrations an hour, with automatic winding. This movement is, in fact, the very reason why the iconic-looking minimalist model, water-resistant to 5 ATM, with small seconds at 6 o'clock, can lay claim to such finesse… 

Schwarz-Etienne Tourbillon Petite Seconde Retrograde


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