Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

The Fascinating Narbel & Co Skel-1

Philippe Narbel opens up his debut watch to reveal his artistic skills in skeletonisation and finishing.

| By Robin Nooy | 3 min read |

The name of Philippe Narbel might not be on everyone’s radar, but that’s about to change. If you happen to already be familiar with his work, however, I’m positive his latest creation will get you quite excited! Making his debut with the Roots watch last year, Narbel and his team are working under the Narbel & Co name, this is only the second model to be introduced, but what a model it is! Where the Roots was a cushion-shaped watch with a closed dial and a beautifully finished movement, the new Skel-1 pulls back the curtains to reveal the intricate work the Narbel & Co team is capable of. And don’t think this is just someone putting a team to work, as Philippe is very much a hands-on guy! In fact, he has years of experience working for Audemars Piquet and now Manufactor SA, Philippe’s own company specialising in finishing techniques.

Narbel & Co used the Roots watch as a canvas for the Skel-1. That means you get the same 40mm by 40mm TV- or cushion-shaped case. It’s available either in stainless steel or in a bicolour combination of steel and red gold. At 10mm in height, it’s all very modern yet comfortably proportioned. The exterior is finished with a combination of brushing and polishing, with a strong bevelled edge on the bezel to break the profile of the case. The sapphire crystals on both sides follow the silhouette of the case, and on the right-hand side, a contemporary-looking crown is used to wind and set the watch.

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There’s no real dial in the Skel-1, yet telling time is relatively easy. Similar to the Roots watch, it has a sloped flange on the outside perimeter with sculpted three-dimensional openworked indices. This is paired with steel hour, minutes and seconds hands that are frosted and polished (and gold plated in the bicolour model). For the rest, you get an unobstructed view of the skeletonised movement. You can also get a glimpse of the remaining energy stored in the barrel as the mainspring is exposed in the top right corner. The balance wheel can be seen swinging back and forth between 7 and 10 o’clock.

The Skel-1 comes with the same base movement as the Roots did, which is the manually wound Peseux 7001. As you can tell by the images, it has been completely rebuilt and finished in-house and by hand in a movement that follows the contours of the TV-shaped case. For this second creation, the base movement has been modified even more, as virtually all components are skeletonised as much as possible. This results in a striking combination of curves and lines, all revealing the mechanical elements sandwiched between the plates and bridges.

German silver is used for various elements, which is then given a black-gold finish or a 5n red gold plating. The ratchet cover stands out as it has a contrasting finish to the movement. It beats at a rate of 21,600vph and delivers 42 hours of running time. The finishing looks absolutely spectacular, which it should be given Philippe Narbel’s background. The hand-applied finishing includes frosting, brushing, engraving and more. No less than 211 interior angles have been bevelled and polished by hand.

The Narbel & Co Skel-1 is offered on a handmade leather strap, bespoke to each client’s requirements in terms of material, colour and size. The strap is fitted with a stainless steel or gold ardillon buckle. Philippe Narbel and his team will only make 10 to 15 pieces in total per year due to limited production capacity and offer customisation options to each client. The material, colour and finishing of the case, buckle, ratchet cover, mainplate and bridges can all be altered if desired. The base price is CHF 62,000 for stainless steel and CHF 82,000 for bicolour steel and gold, excluding VAT. Bespoke options will come at a premium.

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2 responses

  1. These look like renderings.

    But also like an interior angle fest I can certainly enjoy.

  2. The two tone steel distracts you from a fascinating looking watch. I’m mesmerised by it and I don’t know why.

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