As we’ve explained over the past, Massena LAB is a rather unique project, being a timepiece creation studio founded by watch industry veteran Wiliam Massena. Based on the concept of collaborations with renowned watchmakers, the US-based laboratory has released several handsome limited watches, and two of them were already the result of joint work with Austrian-based independent watchmaker Habring². For their third watch together, the two are inviting yet another talent, in the name of Joshua N. Shapiro. And the result is a very attractive, salmon-coloured, vintage-inspired dead-beat seconds watch that is certified by the Horological Society of New York. Meet the Habring2 x Massena LAB Erwin LAB03.
As indicated by its name, the Erwin LAB03 is a continuation of the LAB series initiated with the Erwin LAB01, a 1930s-inspired bronze watch with sector dial and deadbeat seconds, and the Erwin LAB02, a steel-cased model with a contrasting silver and rose gold sector dial. And if this third iteration is still inspired by horological history and important past models, it pushes the concept even further with multiple unique features, such as a more refined design, a look at traditional finishing techniques and two firsts, which we’ll explore in a few.
The case of the Habring² x Massena LAB Erwin LAB03, if attractive, is the least surprising element of the watch, being the classic 38.5mm stainless steel case with “Calatrava-inspired” stepped bezel. Polished with a brushed finishing on the bezel, this compact case works great in this historical context. Equipped with sapphire crystals front and caseback, it is rather thin (around 9mm) and has a 50m water-resistance. It is attached to a low-key strap made of blue, textured deer leather with a simple stainless steel tang buckle.
What matters most in the new Massena LAB Erwin LAB03 is the dial. And this salmon-coloured option looks very desirable – we can’t blame William for this choice, as we did something in the same vein too with our Montre de Souscription 1, also made in collaboration with Habring². This time, however, it has required the involvement of a third party, namely American independent watchmaker Joshua N. Shapiro. Based in Los Angeles, he transformed William Massena’s design into an actual dial, using a surprising material, yet a traditional technique.
Most salmon dials are made of brass and then painted or copper/rose gold plated. Here, the dial is made of solid bronze giving it a natural colouration. You can also expect the colour of the dial to evolve slightly over time. The dial is then finished with a central basketweave guilloché pattern, executed on an 80-year-old straight-line guilloché machine by Shapiro. Further, each dial is circular-grained using a Water of Ayr stone. According to Massena, “this stone was traditionally used in the watchmaking world for hundreds of years, but now the stone is mined out and nearly impossible to procure.”
To give this salmon colour some contrast, all other elements of the dial have been treated in navy blue, whether for the minute markers, the logos, the Roman numerals found at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions or the Breguet-styled hands, which are blued and polished with the typical “eccentric moon” tip. Altogether, the dial feels even more refined and elegant than the LAB’s previous creations.
The other side of the Massena LAB Erwin LAB03 reveals the beautiful in-house Habring² Calibre A11MS, developed, manufactured, and assembled by the Austrian watchmaker, but here treated in a surprisingly warm fashion, as plated first with rhodium and then in 5N rose-gold, echoing the colour found on the dial. The key feature of this hand-wound movement is the deadbeat seconds complication, which ticks in one-second steps, driven by a gilded wheel and click spring. An ode to historic precision watches (and certainly not to quartz movements…) The movement runs at a 4Hz frequency and stores up to 48 hours of energy. It is finished with polished bevels, circular brushed bridges, blued screws and perlage on the main plate.
Another important feature of the Massena LAB Erwin LAB03 concerns the certification of the movement – there’s actually a clue to be found on the balance cock. This Erwin LAB03 is indeed the first watch to be officially certified as a chronometer under the standards of the Horological Society of New York (HSNY). Indeed, it now offers a testing service for watchmakers and watch manufactures, with a protocol that exceeds the international standards outlined in ISO 3159.
Availability & Price
The Habring2 x Massena LAB Erwin LAB03 is a limited edition of 66 pieces, available as of today exclusively from massenalab’s website here. The watch will retail for USD 9,450.
More details at www.massenalab.com.