In 2014, the “seed of AdC was sown in a coffee shop in the city centre of Barcelona“. Two years later, the newly born Atelier de Chronométrie presented the AdC1, the company’s debut watch, powered by a largely restored and hand-finished Omega calibre 266 movement with multiple aesthetical and functional improvements. The watch was a tribute to competition chronometers from the 1950s and was certified by l’Observatoire de Besançon in France. A few years later, and with many more time-only timepieces in its portfolio, the company introduced the AdC8, a marvellous split-seconds chronograph, again with a restored vintage movement. But now, Atelier de Chronométrie is upping its game by quite a margin, presenting its own movement, the calibre M284 (with a bit of external help…)
What looked like an exciting watchmaking exercise by yet another aspiring enthusiast very quickly became a favourite indie watchmaker among a sophisticated clientele, enamoured with the rare and expensive timepieces produced by this Spain-based workshop. Famous for its artisanal approach to making retro-inspired watches with old rebuilt and hand-finished movements, this year, Atelier de Chronométrie steps up with the AdC22 and its proprietary movement, calibre M284. And this engine is paved to become a crucial element of the brand’s production, as from now on, it’ll gradually be fitted inside all its time-only watches.
The company, led by its founder Santiago Martínez Rabasa, a vintage watch dealer with a keen eye for the mid-20th century wristwatches, says that the calibre M284 was created “from scratch” with the help of Luca Soprana, an independent specialist constructor, a name already familiar to our readers for his part in creating the Old School watch by Massena Lab. Even though the typical Vallée de Joux architecture and the slow frequency might suggest that it was built around an old ébauche, it isn’t.
The 30mm movement design is an exciting take on the Swiss calibres one finds in 1940s catalogues, with characteristic bridges and a large screwed balance wheel beating at a slow pace of 18,000 vibrations/hour. The hand-wound calibre M284 is built using 19 jewels, has a swan-neck regulator, and its barrel is capable of storing enough power for the watch to run for 38 hours. The finishing is exquisite and very admirable; I fear sounding overly poetic, but honestly, it is hard to take your eyes off. The open caseback reveals authentic-looking decoration using various techniques, including Côtes de Genève, anglage, perlage and straight graining. Attention to detail continues with the polished countersinks and the bevelled screws. The text logo and the model number “22” are hand engraved on the Arcap rhodium-plated bridges (Arcap is a modern alloy containing no iron, so it is non-magnetic).
The way the movement is executed sets the mood for appreciating the AdC22 as a very handsome, intelligent piece, presented in a Calatrava-style stainless steel case with a 37.5mm diameter and a height of 9mm. The case is polished to reflect the light in the most flattering manner – and I love the handmade crown without any logo. The dial is two-tone, predominantly rose/salmon, with a galvanic silver ring bearing applied circular hour indices, with a recessed (engine-turned) sub-dial at 6 o’clock for the small seconds. The minutes and seconds tracks are printed in black, legible and modest so as not to violate the rose-and-silver harmony, with polished stainless steel hands completing the perfect image of this vintage-inspired yet contemporary model.
The Atelier de Chronométrie AdC22 is available to order in stainless steel or 18k gold cases. You can have your watch customised to a certain degree while working closely with the masters. The prices are EUR 60,000 and EUR 65,000, respectively, taxes not included. As with the past AdC releases, it may seem too expensive for some for a not-so-complicated timepiece. Still, a quick look at similar offers from independent watchmakers should reveal it is on the level, if not better. The AdC22 is a very well-designed watch, and it comes with its own movement, and you can make it unique with a bit of imagination. To learn more, please visit www.atelierdechronometrie.com.