Monochrome Watches
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Gautier Massonneau, CEO and Founder of Trilobe, on the Present and Future of the Indie Watchmaker

"My very first watch was a Trilobe" - not a bad way to get into watchmaking!

| By Xavier Markl | 5 min read |

A savvy mix of boldness and French poetry, Trilobe timepieces eschew traditional codes and provide their own offbeat take on mechanical watchmaking. Dubai Watch Week provided the perfect opportunity to sit down with its CEO/founder and creative director, Gautier Massonneau, to discuss how this young independent watchmaking brand was born, his plans for the future and more. 

Xavier Markl, MONOCHROME – Gautier, what is your first watch memory, and how did you get into watches?

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Gautier Massonneau, Trilobe – I have always been interested in small objects. My grandfather collected Marklin miniature trains, so I spent a lot of time disassembling and reassembling them. Then, since my parents are architects, I have always been invited to challenge the shape, the material, and the design of things. My mother, for instance, is very into Frank Lloyd Wright. It is through this prism that I got into watchmaking.

Still, how did you get into creating your own brand?

Well, my very first watch was a Trilobe. I never owned a watch before. When I got interested in watches, I started digging into watches, into independents, the Urwerks or watches like the Zeitwerk of A. Lange & Söhne, which is one of my grail watches. But of course, at 26, I could not afford such a watch. So, I thought that since I wanted a watch that would be different, with a different way of displaying time, why not make it myself and create my own brand?

I started designing things, and after two years, I realized that I needed the support of specialists. I had my own ideas and knew what I wanted, but working with Jean-François Mojon for the R&D process was essential.

So, what was your first creation?

We presented Les Matinaux as a limited edition of 100 watches with our unique module to display time grafted on a 2892 calibre. We understood there was a huge potential. Having done this “proof of concept”, if you like, we figured we had to go one step further and started working on a larger production scale with the Cercle des Horlogers. We produced a new version of Les Matinaux with our proprietary micro-rotor movement, followed by two other collections.

Trilobe Les Matinaux Sunray Grey

What was your aim while designing Les Matinaux?

The idea is to be different, all the while remaining very classic and elegant. We want to create a different vision of time with our concept of time in movement. We have three different rings in motion to show the time. (Editor’s Note: time is indicated by three stationary pointers in the shape of the brand’s trefoil logo on three rotating discs with the hours at the periphery followed by off-centred minutes and seconds).

The second collection, Nuit Fantastique, has the same movement basis, the same idea of time in motion, but it tells an entirely different story (Editor’s Note: the hours are placed on a ring that rotates on the periphery of the dial. The intertwined minutes and seconds rings form a figure 8 on the left side of the dial). While there is naturally a family feel, it has a completely different personality.

Trilobe Nuit Fantastique Black

And then came Une Folle Journée, which is even more audacious.

The Trilobe Folle Journée is a bit more exuberant and crazier, as its name suggests. It is built on Les Matinaux that we exploded into 3D. This is a big technical challenge because the higher the discs are, the lighter they need to be. So, we used titanium. The display of time alone requires over 20 elements! It is delicate to finish and to assemble. It is a complex, very interesting watch, yet it remains perfectly wearable. The case is 40.5mm and is made of titanium, so you almost don’t feel it on the wrist.


Trilobe Une Folle Journée

Getting back to manufacturing, you have been working with Le Cercle des Horlogers, but you have now set up your own Atelier in Paris.

Absolutely. From the beginning, our ambition was to create a beautiful French house of high watchmaking. We are based in Paris, and we are building this step by step, through our collections, with our commercial development, but also with the integration of know-how. We now have six watchmakers in the heart of Paris, on Avenue de l’Opéra. This is really exciting. We learn a lot, and it lets us be more creative.

Gautier Massonnea (CEO and Founder) and Volcy Bloch (General Manager) of Trilobe

What are the next challenges for the brand?

On the creative side, we will be presenting something new at Watches and Wonders, something really exciting, in my opinion. Another important thing for a small independent brand like us is to secure our production. It is a frustration for us. It is a key element for our growth. One major step was to integrate our workshop.

Trilobe Nuit Fantastique Grained Green and Grained Dune 2022 Editions

Independents have been on the rise over the past few years, yet the industry is slowing. How do you envision the coming months?

We will be celebrating our 5th anniversary at the end of the year. We have always been evolving in a challenging environment. Each year comes with a new crisis. We started with massive strikes in France, then the yellow jackets, then COVID-19, and then the tragic situation in Ukraine and the Middle East… Who knows what’s coming next? Well, this is the difficult life of a business; you have to navigate through this. I always like to take long-term perspectives. If you look at the big successful houses, they have been building their brand with long-term vision and consistency. The market may shrink next year, but I am confident over the long run. The number of people interested in independent watchmaking is growing at a fast rate…

If you had to pick one of your watches?

It’s like your children; you cannot pick one. But you have your moments. Right now, it is the Nuit Fantastique Brume in 38.5mm. It is our latest release in that collection. It comes with a beautiful guilloché dial. It is really elegant!

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