Atelier de Chronométrie is something special in the watchmaking scene… Truly special. And what these Barcelona-based guys are doing is equally special, and truly fascinating. ‘Hand-made’ takes here a lot of sense, as the Atelier crafts wristwatches in the most traditional way. Specialized in 1940s-styled watches based on revived vintage Omega calibres, what you’re about to see is level 2 of Atelier de Chronométrie, an absolutely stunning haute horlogerie, hand-crafted, unique Split Seconds Chronograph that I’d love to wear upside-down, just to dive into this superb movement.
Today, we’ll start immediately by the movement. Not that the habillage isn’t worthy of being mentioned – far from that, actually – but the engine inside this watch is a masterpiece, a dream machine for chronograph and independent watchmaking lovers. And this exactly the raison d’être of this watch, a special order from a collector of independents from California who wanted his dream watch to become reality. He came up with a challenge, and a first for Atelier de Chronométrie: create a rattrapante (split-seconds) chronograph with the AdC style.
Based on a vintage ébauche, entirely reworked by hand
The first step was to source the movement, a calibre good enough to be able to be entirely reworked and re-decorated to meet with AdC (very high) standards. And the choice was made to use a vintage calibre Venus 185, a movement produced from the 1940s to the late 1960s and seen, for instance, in Breilting Duograph watches. This movement starts its life at Atelier de Chronométrie as a relatively unfinished calibre, as it used to be in vintage watches. And then comes the AdC touch.
From the 280 parts that counts the Venus 185, 50 new parts have been created entirely by hand and with traditional machines (no CNC here). This concerns mostly bridges and steel parts, including 3 bridges made in Arcap – for instance, the cock that has the typical sharp shape found on most watches by AdC. The rest of the 230 parts have been modified and decorated by hand too. This movement, which runs at 18,000 vibrations/hour and boasts 36 hours of power reserve, remains technically unchanged. The chronograph is actuated by 2 classical pushers and the rattrapante by a co-axial push-piece into the crown.
The pièce de résistance is the decoration of the movement. True haute horlogerie finishing is applied to every single part. The plate and bridges have a grainage finish and are 18k pink gold-plated. All the edges are bevelled and polished, the countersinks are polished and there are so-called etirages des flancs (straight graining). Purple black polished and bevelled screws are visible too. Steel parts are either black polished with anglage or straight-grained (chronograph levers). The anchor bridge is made of steel and black polished, and so is the Rattrapante bridge with its 18k pink gold chaton. The wheels have been rhodium-plated and decorated with anglage and circular satin-finished. Finally, the movement is equipped with a free-sprung balance regulated by 6 masselottes made in 18k rose gold with a black polished stud holder plate, and a rattrapante wheel made of titanium with the AdC symbol.
In more lyrical words, this movement is an impressive demonstration of savoir-faire and delivers an immense visual satisfaction, between the usual complexity of an old-school split-seconds chronograph with horizontal clutch and the contrast between the polished and grained parts of the movement… Simply stunning.
A superb vintage-looking rattrapante watch
As said, if the movement is the most attractive part of this Atelier de Chronométrie AdC#8, the habillage (understand here the non-technical parts) is certainly as desirable as the calibre.
Most of the previous creations by AdC were 3-hand, 1940s-inspired watches with a Calatrava-styled case. This AdC#8 is still inspired by glorious past models, however with a different style for the case and dial. The idea of the client was to have a “fancy organic case, where ergonomy was a key requirement“. Designing the case took the Barcelona team 9 months, to make the case as thin as possible and comfortable.
The case is 18k grey gold (a high palladium alloy, which is why it doesn’t need to be rhodium-plated) a and measures 39.8mm in diameter, with a 15mm height – rattrapante movements are thick… To minimize this thickness, the bezel has a concave profile and the pushers are rectangular, resulting in a rather Patek-ish look. It is also featuring desirable teardrop lugs, which are individually soldered.
Reflecting Atelier de Chronométrie’s love for 1940s watches, the “doctor’s” dial is black galvanic “gilt” with mirror polished silvered lettering and scales, which was made by a technique very common in the past but nowadays rare and highly laborious to be properly executed. The dial also features applied Breguet numerals and hands, all executed in grey gold.
Availability & Price
Note that the present watch, as all timepieces produced by Atelier de Chronométrie, is a unique piece designed according to the client’s requirements.
The price of a Split-Seconds chronograph starts at EUR 85,000 and will change depending on the options for materials and design. And while it certainly is far from cheap, this remains a fair price for a one-of-a-kind, entirely custom-built rattrapante chronograph in gold with such an impressive level of finishing and decoration.
More about the brand and orders at www.atelierdechronometrie.com.