Whenever we come across a new high-end watch project, we have several reactions. There’s bewilderment, scepticism, interest, excitement, and once we’ve understood what we’re looking at and like what we see, determination. Determination to investigate further, reach out to the people behind it, and attempt to get our hands on it so we can eventually write a story. The same reaction occurred when we learned about Ataelier Haute Complication, a new break-out independent watchmaking atelier founded by Vladimir Victor Négault. It might not be a name that rings any bells just yet, but it is bound to do in the future!
On a Friday afternoon, our very own Xavier sent a message with a short video of this watch. We were all intrigued about what we saw, especially given the link to F.P. Journe. Vladimir Victor Négault, the watchmaker who started Ataelier Haute Complications is, as he describes himself, “a disciple of François-Paul Journe”. So the game was on to write an initial story and break the news to you, our dear readers.
The passion for watchmaking started when Vladimir Victor Négault was just 12 years old, after meeting a 65-year-old rabbi who picked up his family’s trade as a jeweller and watchmaker again. Through this guidance, and with his first set of tools, Vladimir discovered the fascinating history and technology of watchmaking. He would even set up an improvised workbench at home, working on pocket watches, wristwatches and alarm clocks.
In 1994, working as an architect and 3D modeller, he met François-Paul Journe, who asked him to make a model 3D cast for a Cartier bracelet. Two years later, Vladimir was working on dismantling, measuring, and transforming historic singing bird automata for several Swiss companies. Forward to 2004, François-Paul Journe asked to join him and develop 2D and 3D animated movies explaining how complications and movements work. For 14 years, he would work in R&D for F.P. Journe, all the while studying watchmaking on the side. By 2018 he was ready to venture out on his own and started the development of five different models based on new and unique complications, the first of which is now about the be launched.
Now, for those looking for all the intricate little details and hands-on images, that’s not what this story is about. Initially, at least. The Ataelier Haute Complications Dual Time is currently being developed as a prototype, so there’s no completed and working watch we can show you just yet. But, with development well underway and funding being taken care of through his sold-out pre-series of 19 watches, Vladimir expects to be ready shortly after the summer. And as such, we wanted to break the news to you as soon as we could.
Some specs and details are known, though, so we can share a little more with you. The case, which clearly shows the influence of his former employer, is made of steel and measures 41mm in diameter and 9mm in height. Sandwiched between two sapphire crystals is a dial and movement we’ve never seen before. The Dual Time will feature an offset local time dial with an additional home time display in the top half of the watch. This area indicates the time at home with a day & night disc running underneath an arched aperture. The polished and blued hands for the local time rotate over a dial with large numerals for 3/6/9/12.
As far as the movement goes, we understand that everything is done in-house. Vladimir does use parts of the running gear and the balance wheel from a hand-wound ETA/Peseux 7001 movement, but the rest is entirely built in-house. The entire movement consists of 187 components, including 28 jewels. It runs at a rate of 21,600vph and provides 42 to 45 hours of autonomy once fully wound (by hand). From what we can tell by the images, the finishing is looking very good, but we’ll have to wait a while to be sure.
Now, there’s also a bit of explaining needed when it comes to availability. The Ataelier Haute Complications Dual Time will be made in a run of 99 pieces only. However, a special pre-series of 19 prototypes will also be made, which helped fund the entire endeavour. These will be individually numbered, with 0/19 remaining in the hands of Vladimir and Ataelier Haute Complications. The remaining 19 are sold out already, but watches from the run of 99 are still available. The price for this very intriguing looking watch is a rather unexpected CHF 8,000.
For more information, please visit Ataelier.ch.