Geneva Watch Days 2023: Massena LAB x Sylvain Pinaud Chronograph Monopoussoir
The most compelling execution of the Sylvain Pinaud Chronograph Monopoussoir yet.
At Geneva Watch Days 2023, Massena LAB has unveiled its finest limited edition launched to date. It is the Chronograph Monopoussoir created in collaboration with French independent watchmaker Sylvain Pinaud. Limited to only 10 pieces, the watch features a revamped titanium case for a sleeker, more elegant profile that sets the stage for the frontally mounted chronograph works.
Sylvain graduated from the famed Morteau watchmaking school, the Lycée Edgar Faure in 1998 and subsequently built a career that led him to renowned watch companies like Franck Muller and Carl F. Bucherer. In 2018, he struck out on his own and established a workshop in Sainte-Croix. Now in his forties, he gained his widest recognition with the launch of the Origine in 2022, which placed him in the major league of independent watchmakers pursuing the art of the time-only watch at the highest level.
However, prior to the launch of the Origane, he created the Chronograph Monopoussoir, with an inverted, manual-wind chronograph movement that was almost entirely made by hand. The watch was originally conceived to compete in the 2019 Un des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF), a prestigious nationwide competition in various crafts in France, spanning fields such as glasswork, pottery, marquetry, painting and sculpture. Remarkably, Sylvain won the MOF, distinguishing himself as the sole watchmaker among all recipients.
As you might recall, the case of the Chronograph Monopoussoir was highly unusual and complex. It was made up of a bezel, a sapphire upper caseband and a case back that incorporates the hinged lugs. They are held together by four screws that elevate the bezel structure above the case, offering an unimpeded cross section view of the chronograph mechanism. In the Massena LAB limited edition, the case has been revised with a more classic silhouette, all while preserving the distinctive sapphire case band.
Massena LAB is a design studio founded in 2018 by industry veteran William Massena, who is, if anything, hugely respected as a tastemaker. Indeed, the streamlined case architecture is a welcomed refinement as it not only doesn’t detract from the openworked dial that exposes the chronograph mechanism but it also gives the watch a more dignified presence.
Made in titanium, the case has the same 42mm diameter but due to its traditional curved lugs, it should sit slightly larger lug-to-lug when compared to the original. The upside is that it is slimmer, measuring 11mm high as opposed to the 12.5mm before, as the circular bezel is much thinner and is directly fitted onto the crystal. The bezel is polished while the flanks of the case and the top surfaces of the lugs are satin-brushed for contrast and separated by a wide polished bevel.
The dial was made by Comblémine, the renowned dial factory owned by Kari Voutilainen.
The plate that dominates the upper half of the dial is finished with hand frosting while its edges are bevelled and polished with six sharp internal angles. The offset sub-dial for the hours and minutes is also hand-finished with a frosted inner section with a wide bevelled edge and circular graining on the chapter ring. Notably, the running seconds sub-dial at eight o’clock has been open-worked, which not only allows the sub-dial to blend into the background, in turn lending more emphasis to the chronograph seconds and minutes but it also exposes the elaborately shaped coupling lever. Previously concealed behind a solid sub-dial, the clutch lever is actually fully supported, pivoting over the drive wheel. The running seconds hand along with the hands for the hours and minute are all in steel, smartly distinguishing them from the chronograph seconds and minutes which are in blued steel.
Like the original, the movement is almost entirely produced and finished by hand. It adopts the gear train and the escapement of the Unitas 6497-1 but the base plate, balance wheel, keyless works, off-centre motion works, as well as the entire chronograph mechanism had to be designed and developed from scratch. The visible aspects of the chronograph mechanism is notably elaborate. The column wheel, for instance, is supported by its own bridge with its own pivot jewel.
Finally, while the original featured a solid case back with an aperture exposing only the balance wheel, the Massena limited edition has a full sapphire case back that showcases the beautifully finished movement where jewels sit in exceptionally wide, polished countersinks and the balance is supported by an anchor shaped bridge that is black-polished, with two sharp internal angles. Operating at a frequency of 2.5 Hz, the balance wheel is free-sprung with three adjustable gold weights. The wheel train bridge and base plate was completely designed from the ground up such that the balance is centred at six o’clock. Notably, the movement also appears to show a progression, having been finished to a much higher level than the standard model, which results in a significantly higher price point of CHF 130,000. The bridge for the pallet fork has also been redesigned. It is now shaped like an arrowhead and is secured to the baseplate by two screws.
In all, the Massena LAB x Sylvain Pinaud Chronograph Monopoussoir is extremely compelling. It boasts a better finished movement, with a more pronounced dial design while also having a slimmer, more elegant case. While its significantly elevated price tag might pose a challenge, a corollary to that is that this version represents the ultimate execution of the model, accentuated by its scarcity of just 10 pieces.
Chronograph Monopoussoir Sylvain Pinaud x Massena LAB
Movement: Manual winding; single pusher column-wheel chronograph with horizontal clutch; Frequency of 2.5Hz or 18,000 vph; 45-hour power reserve.
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, monopusher chronograph with 45-minute counter
Case: 42mm by 11mm; Grade 5 Titanium with sapphire crystal window panels; water resistant to 30m
Dial: Frosted upper dial plate; hour and minutes sub-dial with a frosted inner sector, polished, beveled edge and circular grained chapter ring; hours, minutes and seconds hands in stainless steel; chronograph seconds and minute hands in blued steel
Strap: Alligator, made in France by Jean Rousseau Paris for Massena LAB
Price: CHF 130,000
Availability: Limited to 10 pieces (Production is limited to three pieces each year, with deliveries taking place over three years)
FROM THE SHOP
|Self-winding caliber BR.CAL-301; 42-hour power reserve
|Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph and date
|41mm; CuAI7Si2 bronze; water resistant to 100m
|Sunray brushed with applied, gold-plated indices
|Black calfskin; satin polished bronze folding clasp
|Limited edition of 50 pieces