Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

The Absinthe Watch by Massena LAB and Raúl Pagès

Will it be as intoxicating as its name suggests...?

| By Brice Goulard | 4 min read |

What started as Massena LAB’s venture to create watches in collaboration with accessible niche brands or renowned independent watchmakers has grown to another level. Now, the horological creative studio not only designs and develops watches but has gotten to the point of co-developing its own proprietary movements. First seen with the Old School watch, made with Luca Soprana, Massena later launched the Magraph, involving talented indie watchmaker Raúl Pagès in the development of its hand-wound movement. Following the recent Observatory Dial watch with Phillips, the concept is now back in a new edition, the Absinthe watch, with a rich green dial that is about to make you see the Green Fairy… 

The launch of the Magraph was an important step for Massena LAB, a declaration of independence. Moving beyond his usual strategy of reworking the design of watches (cases, dials, materials), William Massena decided to go one step further by developing his own proprietary movement, the calibre M660. To do so, he sourced help from one of the most revered independent watchmakers, Raúl Pagès, who was recently awarded the inaugural Louis Vuitton Watch Prize for Independent Creatives. The result was an elegant hand-wound movement with refined finishes produced by a small network of Swiss watchmakers under the supervision of Pagès.

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Recently, Massena LAB teamed up with auction house Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo to create the 1952 Observatory Dial watch, with a slightly reworked version of Pagès’ movement and a design inspired by the Observatory-grade Patek Philippe Ref. 2458, once the property of famous lawyer J.B. Champion. The concept is now back in a new variation with a green colour inspired by a famous green drink. And if Absinthe found notoriety in Belle Époque France, it is actually a Swiss invention.

Back to the watch… Once again, there’s no denying William Massena’s personal influence on this watch. A classic Calatrava-style time-only model, it is housed in a rather compact 38.5mm steel case with a stepped bezel and a sleek shape. Polished on top and brushed on the sides, the 10mm thin case is framed by sapphire crystals on both sides and exudes a classic, slightly retro appeal. It is worn on a blue Saffiano leather strap closed by a pin buckle.

Most of the originality of this Absinthe by Massena LAB lies in its dial. As often with the studio, it mixes traditional elements with a modern appeal, here reinforced by the rich and pronounced colour of the base. Vertically brushed, it is rendered in an emerald green colour with an ombré (gradient) effect, leaning towards a dark forest green tone on the periphery. Classism comes from the use of pointy, wide and faceted polished markers combined with a pearl-like minute track – there’s a clear Calatrava feel here. The leaf hands indicate the hours and minutes.

Compared to the inaugural Magraph, the display has been modified with a small seconds counter now positioned at 9 o’clock. Just like the collaboration watch with Phillips, Massena added some decorative text to counterbalance the small seconds counter. Inscribed in a curve are the words “Observatory Precision” at 3 o’clock – again, an ode to J.B. Champion’s watch and also a reference to the characteristics of the movement.

Talking about mechanics, this Massena LAB Absinthe relies on the calibre M690. Designed and developed together with Raúl Pagès, it’s based on the gear train calculation, assortment and kinetic chain of a 7750 – which you couldn’t tell by looking at the movement. This hand-wound calibre stores 60h of power reserve and runs at a 4Hz frequency. While Pagès oversees and supervises the production of the M690, done by selected Swiss companies, he does not handle the production or the decoration of the movement himself. However, his touch is visible on the decoration with large Geneva stripes, fine circular graining and hand-chamfered plates and bridges, including internal angles. Raúl Pagès’ signature, the poinçon Pagès, is tucked subtly under the balance wheel and takes the form of a tortoise.

Finally, collectors who acquire this watch will have the opportunity to send it to the Horological Society of New York for testing as part of the organisation’s HSNY Chronometer Certification Program. After a testing procedure that exceeds the standards outlined in ISO 3159, owners will receive a printed certificate listing individual results for their chronometer-tested timepiece.

Launching now on the studio’s website, the Absinthe by Massena LAB and Raúl Pagès is a limited edition of 99 pieces. Deliveries are expected to start in July 2024 in small batches of five to seven pieces per month. It is priced at USD 8,675 (the same price as the 2022 Magraph) or USD 8,975 with the chronometer certification by HSNY. For more details and orders, please visit

1 response

  1. This would have been the perfect watch for Vincent Van Gogh while drinking his Absinthe while thinking about his next creation at one of his favorite haunts in Arles, France before cutting off one of his earlobes.

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