We carried the press release of the Tulloch T-01 First Edition Regulator earlier, and recently had the opportunity to meet up with Shane Tulloch and were able to spend a day to examine and photograph the watches. Here is our detailed review, with Watchscapes.
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We followed up on our initial excitement when we first saw the Press Release because Shane Tulloch, the principal behind Tulloch Watches chose to collaborate with Kari Voutilainen and Eric Giroud. Both esteemed friends of ours, which are at the apex of the independent watchmaking arena. But we were also impressed by the way Shane chose to work with the duo. He had devoted a good part of 4 years of his life to teach himself micro-mechanics. Talking to him, the passion and deep knowledge which arose from the investment he made in educating himself is apparent. This was a project Shane conceived, and saw through. This was not one where he went and outsourced the thinking to Kari and Eric.
The Tulloch T-01 was not only the brainchild of Shane, but he was responsible for developing, designing, and creating the watch while guided by the design métier of Eric and the wisdom of Kari. Construction was done at Kari’s Comblémine facility together with Christophe Beuchat, who is the Director there. Shane worked on the design of the movement, materials and finishing (gear train wheels, bridges, the balance wheel, and the architecture and layout of the movement) together with the team at Comblémine. As noted previously, Comblémine is a company owned by Kari Voutilainen which makes high-end dials but they also make, assemble and finish the movements there as well. The cases were made at Voutilainen & Cattin.
Tulloch T-01 First Edition
The Tulloch T-01 First Edition is the first watch to emerge. A total of 50 watches are offered as First Edition – 25 each in red gold and white gold in a variety of optional dial colour combinations, and finishing possibilities with the movement. As we understand it, about 100 movements will be made, and the remainder 50 may be offered in another combination of case and dials, but will not be First Editions. We also understand that Shane, Kari and Eric have other watches being planned.
The case, dial and hands
The case is very classical, and in our view, very elegant. The proportions are near perfect, as is typical of Eric Giroud’s work. The beauty extends to the long lugs, which creates a sleek look.
The dial is laid out as a regulator, but instead of the usual hour dial at 12 and seconds at 6, Shane tilted the arrangement so that the hour dial is at 1 and shifted the seconds to be at 7:30.
This created a tilted dial layout which is asymmetrical, and places design constraints on the movement. Shane tells me that after careful study and deliberation, he found that the balance in the dial given the position of the logo at 4, that it looks better with the seconds sub-dial at 7:30 instead of at 7. It is a very subtle design shift which is not immediately obvious, but keeps the dial layout in harmony. Also it would have been easier to just rotate the dial and movement to achieve the tilt. This would result in a crown at 4. But he elected to keep the crown at 3, and redesign the movement. These are small nods to the thinking behind the whole project and an indication of the fastidiousness of the team.
The dial also features very interesting specifications and special finishing. The main dial is made of solid sterling silver and a powder-frosting technique known as giclage. Glicage gives a softer frosting than the more common sablage (sandblasting). In glicage, a mixture of very fine abrasive is infused into a soft soapy solution and this is mechanically applied by hand to the surface to create the frosting. As we understand it, this is a similar technique used for the Petermann & Bédat frosted finish on the seconde morte bridge. Gaël and Florian used fine abrasive powder suspended in olive oil. We also understand this is the same finishing method used in the movement of the Ch. Frodsham Double Impulse Chronometer. The main dial is then colored with different color tones (silver, slate-gray, royal-blue, etc by electroplating), and the minutes numbers are pad-printed.
The hours sub-dial is made from a solid piece of 18k white gold, and first machined by CNC to remove the surface, leaving raised numerals as a kind of relief engraving. The surface is then frosted using sablage, and electroplated using silver or rhodium. The sablage technique uses a more course, granular abrasive mixture under pressure to create the effect, and this can be seen in the photograph below comparing the hours sub-dial to the main dial’s glicage finish. Finally, the raised surface of the numerals are polished by hand to a mirror finish.
Shane told us that he chose this more complicated method as he was not satisfied with the longevity of appliqué, which may fall off over time.
The seconds sub-dial is also made from solid 18k white gold, and also frosted using sablage and electroplated in silver or rhodium.
The numbers and the Tulloch name are pad printed on the main dial and seconds sub-dial.
The hands on the red gold version shown here is in 18k red gold, and rounded and polished.
There is no other way to describe the impression when one flips the watch over and catches a view of the movement. The word which comes to mind is “impressive”. But impressive does not begin to describe the jaw dropping effect of the magnificently symmetrical layout and the beautiful finishing.
The main plate is made from German silver, then given a frosted finish using the glicage technique described above. The plate is then electroplated with a color called Noir Or (Black gold), a dark-gray color. The bridges are made also made from German silver, then frosted using sablage, then electroplated with a nickel-tone color. This provides a nice visual contrast between the main plate and the bridges.
The two fast-rotation barrels are coupled in series, and their covers feature hand guilloché decoration. The guilloché pattern can be customized.
Taking a closer look at the barrel cock, its jewel and gold chaton and the guilloché.
The edges of the plates feature beautiful anglage. The style of the anglage is the rounded type, which are nicely mirror polished to catch glimpses of light as it reflects off the edge and contrasts nicely with the frosting on the top of the plates. Contrast this to the anglage used on Greubel Forsey watches which are polished flat chamfers.
Note also the bridges feature magnificently finished sharp inward angles, and countersinks for the jewels and screws.
Screw heads are also highly polished. The gear train is made of gold with polished teeth. The gear train feature a double-spoke design finished with circular-grained faces (cerclage) and hand-polished bevels.
This finish is also extended to the transmission wheels and click mechanism seen below.
Also of note is the free sprung balance (class 1 chronometer grade) with Breguet overcoil and Phillips terminal curve. Adjustment and regulation is done via the eccentric weights on the balance. The balance cock is a single-arm cantilevered affair in stainless steel. The cock is rounded and tapered, and is finished in black-polished by hand (poli noir), and is typical of Voutilainen watches.
The entire movement is very striking. And examining it in person reveals even more delightful surprises at the level of attention and care in the design and execution. A truly remarkable feat, especially for a new brand with no previous track record, the lineage from the Voutilainen manufacture notwithstanding.
The competitive landscape
Priced at approximately CHF 36,800 before taxes (we were given to understand this is an estimate, as pricing is not yet final), the level of attention and finishing is extremely high. In this sense, we think the bang for the buck index is very high too. Comparatively, there are relatively few watches at the high end of watchmaking with regulator styled dials, and we find few direct rivals.
Laurent Ferrier Galet Regulateur Singapore Edition might be perhaps the most direct competitor. The one we reviewed in the link above is a limited series of 8 pieces and is priced at SGD 87,000, though the Galet Regulateur is available in the standard collection at CHF 47,000 in 18K white gold version. The Galet features a dial which is simpler, but the movement is automatic winding. In a direct comparison, we think the Tulloch movement is more spectacularly specified, and executed than the Laurent Ferrier.
We suppose in any comparisons of Regulator watches, Chronoswiss should feature. The regulator dial is the calling card of the brand, and the Chronoswiss Régulateur (S$22,500 in gold) occupies the same landscape. The dial provides interesting comparisons, and is in a classical guilloché style. But the movement on the Chronoswiss pales in comparison. The Chronoswiss sports the caliber C122 which is a derivative of the Enicar 165. Finishing is perhaps best described as adequate, and not in the same spectacular realm of the Tulloch.
Perhaps not a direct competitor as it packs an annual calendar complication is the Patek Philippe Annual Calendar Regulator Ref. 5235R is priced at CHF45,700 . The comparison might be interesting as the pricing places it perhaps at the upper end but perhaps still within the same echelon as the Tulloch, and the Patek does sport a regulator style display. As is typical of Patek, the historical lineage, pedigree and the quality of the craftsmanship in execution of the entire watch, including the Calibre 31-260 REG QA movement is beyond reproach.
We may also perhaps include the Ferdinand Berthoud FB1R-1-6 (CHF 230,000) or the Akrivia Regulator Tourbillon,(CHF 125,000) or the Moritz Grossmann Benu Tourbillon (€168,000) but these all have the added tourbillon which throws any meaningful price comparisons out of whack.
In conclusion, the Tulloch T-01 is a remarkable watch. We find it to be extremely beautiful. The aesthetics are almost perfect. We say that even though we are not the biggest fans of regulator dials, but still find the T-01 to be most agreeable and very attractive. The tilted regulator layout makes it instantly recognizable, even from across the room. And no doubt, the level of attention lavished on the dial side, with the different frosting finish on the main and sub-dials, the magnificent mirror polished arabic numerals of the hour markers, and the svelte hands all go to make a gorgeous face. Endears the T-01 to us even more. The case furthers its case (pun intended) by exuding elegance.
Flip the watch over, and be prepared to be knocked out with the beauty of the finishing. Again the level of attention to embellished the movement is remarkable. This is up there in the stratospheric levels of finishing. And remember, we are of the old school of watching, and go by the mantra “finishing, finishing, finishing” (like location in real estate), and can settle to be perfectly happy with a watch with exceptional finishing (like the Tulloch T-01) even if the dial and case aesthetics are mediocre (certainly NOT like the Tulloch which is outstanding in the case and dial as well). So what’s there not to like? Other than the unknown name on the dial, we think none. And heartily give the Tulloch T-01 First Edition a thumbs up!
We are excited that this is the first offering by Shane Tulloch and what he has in his plans for his next watches. With this First Edition in the pocket, it looks like Tulloch Watches might perhaps be one of the rising stars of independent horology in the coming year. We keep our eyes peeled. And Bravo, Shane!