Despite the rise of the mobile phone and smartwatch, traditional wristwatches are by no means obsolete. In fact, driven by the passion of many small, individual designers, there’s a powerful movement to bring back the wristwatch as a statement of style, personality and individuality.
One of the most striking stories is that of Atelier Wen, a young brand formed by a team of French and Chinese designers with the aims of taking high-quality Chinese mechanical watches into the mainstream. It’s an open secret that even in a world dominated by the ‘Swiss made’ label, most big Western watch brands outsource their production to China. Atelier Wen argues that Chinese watchmaking should be celebrated and not hidden, and it plans to make high-quality mechanical watches with a Chinese soul that wear the ‘Made in China’ label as a badge of pride. Atelier Wen’s first series, Porcelain Odyssey, features porcelain dials and top-of-the-line materials, and at around US$500, is claimed to be one of the most affordable porcelain-dial watches ever made.
Design and Craft of Wristwatches
Exclusively made in China and combining elements of Chinese design and craft, Porcelain Odyssey is composed of two models set apart by their dials – Ji for blue, and Hao for white. The dials are made of a porcelain of zirconium oxide that is heated to over 1400°C and combine traditional aesthetics with high durability.
Both models are 39mm automatic mechanical watches using the Peacock 3006 movement and feature a small seconds hand and subdial at 6 o’clock. Combined with a structure similar to 1950s collections.
The art of making wristwatches is to be commended globally. In today’s global epoch, technology questions the necessity of wristwatches; however, the timeless and unique designs adopted in the manufacturing of wristwatches have resisted technological influence.
This feature was originally published in the spring edition of Arts and Collections, which you can also read here.