In recent times, we have seen quite a number of new watches that are produced in collaboration with another watch-related entity. These watches are typically very well-received, and some of the brands have even gone on and explored further on this new genre of watch collecting with interesting concepts that we have not seen before.
The idea of collaboration is a brilliant one, frankly. The ability to harness the expertise of different individuals, to create a product that offers the best of both worlds, is a splendid way to produce a highly desirable product. Why have people not thought about this earlier, or leverage on this concept widely?
Specifically, when we talk about collaboration, it is not about slapping the logo of another brand on the timepiece, with minimal inputs from the other party. We are talking about proper collaborations between watch manufacturers and a subject-matter expert, such as a watch manufacturer with a prominent designer. Or an independent watchmaker, with another watch brand. In other words, collaborations that harness more than just the branding of the other entity,
So, in this week’s article, we will be exploring some of our favourite collaborations in the horological scene. What are the timepieces that we have selected? Let us find out!
Harry Winston Opus 3
We cannot talk about collaborations in the watch industry without mentioning one of the most significant partnerships that was ever formed: The Harry Winston Opus series.
Launched in 2001, the Opus series was the brainchild of Max Büsser – who was then the CEO of Harry Winston. Max envisioned this concept to allow independent watchmakers – who were then not as well-known or largely celebrated as today – to gain exposure with their creations, while simultaneously levelling up Harry Winston’s credentials as a serious player in the haute horlogerie scene. The rest, as they say, is history.
The Opus 3, produced in collaboration with the legendary Vianney Halter, is definitely one of our favourites in the Opus series. We like the eccentricities of the timepiece, with an incredible digital display that still confuses even the most well-versed collectors. The Opus 3 definitely challenges the norms, as well as the technical prowess of Vianney himself. We understand that only 55 pieces were made over a period of 10 years, and this is surely one of the watches that will remain mythical even with the passage of time.
Rado True Square Tej Chauhan
Collaborations do not necessarily mean that the products have to be pricey and exclusive. Just take a look at the True Square Tej Chauhan Edition, by Rado.
This particular timepiece is a result of Rado’s collaboration with Tej Chauhan, an award-winning British industrial designer. The watch features the designer’s interpretation of the True Square collection, with intriguing Sci-fi and retro-inspired touches that elevates the timepiece to a whole new level altogether. In addition, the use of yellow for the ceramic case and strap also makes this timepiece rather bold – which is pretty daring, in our books.
Priced at S$2,710, the watch is rather compelling when it comes to value as well. For such an unusual timepiece, it is typically reserved for higher-end pieces with a heftier price tag. We applaud Rado for introducing this timepiece at a relatively approachable price point, and allow more collectors to enjoy such terrific watches with greater accessibility.
Atelier Wen Perception
Atelier Wen may just be a young brand, but given how the recent launch of the Perception goes, we are sure that the brand has taken great strides in its progress.
The Perception is the brand’s second collection, and this watch is definitely a rather special one indeed. The watch, notably, features a stunning guilloché dial which was produced by a Master Craftsman in China. We were told that the Master Craftsman takes around eight man-hours to produce a single guilloché dial, and the effort is certainly seen in the wonderful dial itself.
This is the reason why we appreciate good collaborations. When the two entities operate in silos, we might not have the chance to get such a brilliant timepiece. By harvesting the prowess of the Master Craftsman in dial-making, and Atelier Wen’s knowledge in producing watches and marketing it, we are rewarded with a timepiece that has the best of both worlds. The Atelier Wen Perception is priced at US$2,588 (approximately S$3,555), and we do think that it offers one of the best values for a timepiece with an artisanal touch.
Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein Le Diptyque
While Harry Winston might have redefined collaborations in the watch industry with the Opus series, Louis Erard may have also done something similar, albeit in the entry-level category with its series of accessible timepieces.
First introduced in 2019, the original Le Régulateur by Louis Erard and Alain Silberstein can be considered as the timepiece that restarted the whole idea of collaborations once again. The 2022 variant, named Le Diptyque (pictured above), is a testament to the success of Louis Erard’s business model. In fact, the successful runs of collaborations (with Vianney Halter and Massena Lab, no less) have seen Louis Erard making a strong mark in the scene.
Notably, the watches are priced at CHF 4,000 each (approximately S$5,714), and they are limited to a production of 178 pieces each. It is also available as a duo, at CHF 7,777 (approximately S$11,110). The latter is limited to 56 sets. We dare say Louis Erard has done a splendid job here, and we definitely wish to see more interesting ideas and collaborations in time to come.
MB&F, by Max Büsser, is perhaps a follow-up from his days with the Opus series at Harry Winston. In fact, think of it as the evolution of a project, with full reign on the resources and the liberty to exercise full creativity in his works. And this shows, with his wildly popular creations over the last one and a half decade.
Amongst which, we absolutely like the Legacy Machine 1 (or LM1, for short). This is MB&F’s first attempt at a round watch, with the movement designed and made by Chronode (Jean-François Mojon) and finished by the esteemed Kari Voutilainen. The result is a stunning watch with a flying balance wheel on the dial-side, with a unique vertical power reserve indicator. Of course, given that the finishing is done by Kari, the movement is surely a sight to behold.
We love Max’s philosophy with MB&F, and the LM1 perhaps showcases how well Max is able to envision his watches, and getting the right people to come together and turn dreams into reality. We understand that the LM1 has since been discontinued, although you may perhaps wish to try your luck on the MB&F’s Certified Pre-Owned section if you are keen to get your hands on this whimsical (yet highly wearable) watch.
Grail Watch 1: Ressence x Alain Silberstein “Carpe Diem”
We round up the article with perhaps one of the coolest and brilliant novelties of 2022 thus far. Cue the Grail Watch 1: Ressence x Alain Silberstein “Carpe Diem”.
Grail Watch is a concept that was conceived by the effervescent Wei Koh, whom we reckon is a figure that most collectors should be familiar with. The idea behind the brand is to create cool and imaginative timepieces, with a more equitable way to allocate these watches to the wider audiences.
The first Grail Watch features a collaboration between Ressence and Alain Silberstein. The watch is based on Ressence Type 1, with Alain Silberstein responsible for the design of the various elements on the dial. The result is an uber-cool timepiece, featuring one of Alain’s favourite paintings Vanité, ou Allégorie de la vie Humaine (translated as “Vanitas, Still Life with Tulip, Skull and Hour Glass”), that takes the already-brilliant Ressence Type 1 onto another level altogether.
The watch is priced at CHF22,500 (approximately S$32,144), and it is limited to a production run of 36 pieces. We understand that all the watches have been accounted for, but according to Grail Watches, they will be launching a new creation in October 2022, with a larger production volume and a relatively more accessible price point (between US$5,000 to US$9,000, or approximately S$6,870 to S$12,366). We will certainly keep our eyes peeled on that.
We have seen what incredible and thoughtful collaborations can bring to watches. Here, we have a selection of six sublime watches, which frankly, would not have been possible without such a partnership. There are also a few pieces that we reckon deserves some honourable mentions as well, such as the new Zenith Calibre 135 Observatoire (between Zenith, Phillips, and Kari Voutilainen), Fears Garrick (between Garrick and Fears Watch Company), and Naissance d’une Montre (between Greubel Forsey, Philippe Dufour, and Michel Boulanger).
Collaborations do not necessarily have to be exclusive, nor does it have to feature a premium as well. As we have seen in the above examples, the Rado True Square Tej Chauhan and Atelier Wen Perception are two great pieces that are priced rather reasonably. In fact, the Perception is perhaps one of the best novelties that we have seen thus far in 2022, with its stunning hand-made guilloché dial and value proposition. Its resounding success is certainly a strong testament that Atelier Wen had done something smart here.
So, what are your thoughts on such timepieces? Do you reckon the collaborations bring out the best of both worlds, or do they dilute the brand equities of each individual? Let us know in the comments section below.