At MONOCHROME, we’re always thrilled to see the launch of new independent brands, specifically when we’ll be talking of high-end and truly hand-made horology. Cramain was founded by a young duo, Kilian Leschnik and Dr Julian M. Stiels, out of the shared vision to create timepieces that would be crafted solely by their own hands, with traditional craftsmanship. Cramain therefore combines the words ‘crafted’ and ‘main’ (hand, in French). Their inaugural creation is an impressively complex and detailed time-only piece, fitted with a constant force mechanism. Meet the Cramain Mark II.
Kilian Leschnik, 28 years old, graduated from watchmaking school in Germany in 2016. There, he was awarded as the best student with his Mark I ‘Piece Ecole’ watch. The curriculum of Julian M. Stiels is far less classic, as he graduated Doctor of Medicine. Always drawn to mechanical watches, he is self-educated in CAD, movement design and construction. The duo started to work on their Mark II timepiece as early of 2014 (Stiels joining full time as of 2018). With a vision to create watches that would be crafted solely by their own hands, their effort consisted of creating their workshop restoring vintage machines like Hauser jig borers or SIXIS milling machines. This was a prerequisite for practising traditional manufacturing and finishing techniques.
The first creation of this duo, the Mark II has been thought of as “the epitome of a handmade timepiece“. And although we didn’t have the chance yet to go hands-on with the Cramain Mark II, it does look spectacular and impressively finished, even on the official photos and shots on their Instagram account. Out of the 267 components of the Mark II, 235 are fully handmade by Cramain. Only the rubies, the sapphire crystals and the springs are sourced from external supplier.
The Mark II is a time-only watch presented in a no-nonsense 39.5mm case with a high grip hobnail knurling on its crown. It showcases its superb movement in full display, with a tridimensional architecture made from titanium, maillechort (also known as German silver), gold and sapphire. The handcrafted calibre offers a fascinating view of its intricate constant force mechanism’s action. This striking architecture goes hand-in-hand with a spectacular decoration combining anglage, black polishing, frosting, circular and straight graining or satin finish. The hours and minutes are displayed by superb hand-polished lance shape hands.
Now, the mechanics. As you might know, the period of oscillation of a watch’s balance wheel is affected by the variation of the driving force delivered by the barrel. This led watchmakers to design mechanisms to compensate for the variations in torque of the mainspring. The remontoir is a system that stores a small amount of energy in a secondary hairspring. It delivers exactly the same amount of energy to the balance every period (every 20 seconds in the case of the Cramain). The result is a constant amplitude and thus a high degree of rate accuracy. The constant force remontoir is centred on a ruby cam shaped like a Reuleaux triangle, whose geometry was one of the key focuses of optimization for Cramain.
Below, the 35-part constant force remontoir and its Reuleaux triangle:
The hand-wound movement operates at 18,000 vibrations per hour; the balance wheel features gold adjustment screws and a hairspring with a Breguet overcoil. It stores 60 hours of power reserve.
The first examples of the Cramain Mark II will be delivered in fall 2021, as several months are required to craft each watch – in particular depending on the material chosen for the case. Price is set at CHF 158,000. For more information, visit cramain.com or the brand’s Instagram account.