Monochrome Watches
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Hands-On – James C. Pellaton Royal Marine Chronometer (With Proper Haute-Horlogerie Execution)

| By Xavier Markl | 3 min read |
James C. Pellaton Chronometre Royal Marine - Baselworld 2017

If you are versed in the history of watchmaking or simply if you have ever paid attention to tourbillon pocket watches in auction catalogues, then you are probably familiar with the Pellaton name. It is connected to the makers of some of the most exceptional tourbillons in history. And now it’s brought back to life with a remarkable watch, to say the least! Here is the James C. Pellaton Royal Marine Chronometer, featuring an incredibly well finished movement (and it’s our technical editor who says that).

James C. Pellaton Chronometre Royal Marine - Baselworld 2017

Breguet invented the Tourbillon at the end of the 18th century and was granted a patent for this new type of regulator in 1801. Its principle is to place the regulating organ of the watch in a rotating cage (usually one revolution per minute) to counter the negative effect of gravity. During the years after Breguet’s death, the Tourbillon almost fell into oblivion. Yet, watchmakers turned back to Breguet’s brainchild in the mid-19th century, as chronometry became a subject of competition and the tourbillon was seen as a solution to improve the precision of chronometers.

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Only a handful of elite watchmakers had the skills to craft such sophisticated mechanism. Among them, the name Pellaton holds a special place, with Albert Pellaton-Favre (1932-1914) and his son James César Pellaton (1873-1954). To the point that the distinctive Pellaton tourbillon carriage is part of the few famous historical tourbillon cage designs.

The Pellatons manufactured tourbillons and movements for many known brands, including Patek Philippe, Ulysse Nardin, Zenith or Girard-Perregaux. The Patek Philippe Tourbillon watches below made by James C. Pellaton in 1927-1929 are perfect examples of his work and the spirit infused in the modern creations by Michel Dawalibi as he revived the James C. Pellaton name.

Pellaton Tourbillon Patek Philippe

Photo credits: Watchonista

Michel Dawalibi got the permission to bring back the hibernating brand from the Pellaton family. He resurrected the name in 2009 and the presentation of his Royal Marine Chronometer, designed in the original Pellaton style, was indeed one of the nice surprises of Baselworld 2017. The movement architecture is directly inspired from antique Pellaton pocket tourbillon movements and modernized to be fitted and displayed into a wristwatch.

James C. Pellaton Chronometre Royal Marine - Baselworld 2017

The James C. Pellaton Royal Marine Chronometer is simply gorgeous – and it is more than a mere reproduction of past glories or a nostalgic travel back in time. The first thing to catch the eye is obviously the familiar architecture and the distinctive Pellaton cage with polished equidistant arms. Yet, the movement is displayed under a sapphire dial to incorporate retrograde date and power reserve indications.

James C. Pellaton Chronometre Royal Marine - Baselworld 2017

Most of all, the movement is superbly finished and Dawalibi sets the bar super high. The bridges are crafted from sandblasted or straight-grained maillechort, with top-notch anglage (in terms of details and execution, we are close to Greubel-Forsey, and that is properly impressive, believe us). Same complements can be made for the tourbillon bridge, with superb black polishing on both flat and rounded surfaces, and with multiple internal angles.

The large tourbillon is a feast for the eyes. Its balance features gold regulating screws and a Breguet hairspring. It runs at 21,600 vibrations per hour and boasts a 72-hour power reserve. The jewel set into a gold chaton held by three screws at the center of the movement is a nice (and historical) touch.

James C. Pellaton Chronometre Royal Marine - Baselworld 2017

A modern pocket version of the same movement was presented too at Baselworld. The three pictures below are rather self-explanatory and provide further evidence of the work performed at James Pellaton. For more information on James Pellaton you can visit their website at

Technical specifications James Pellaton Royal Marine Chronometer

  • Case: 44.00mm x 14.85mm – 18k white gold or 18k pink gold – sapphire crystal on the front and on the back – water resistant to 50m – sapphire dial.
  • Movement: caliber JCP 1898 MD, 36.60mm x 9.70mm – mechanical with manual winding – 72h power reserve – 21,600 vibrations/h – 27 jewels – hours, minutes, retrograde date, power reserve indication, one-minute tourbillon.
  • Strap: alligator leather with pin buckle
  • 12 pieces in pink gold, 12 pieces in white gold and 12 pieces for special orders.
  • Retail price : CHF 298,000

2 responses

  1. Xavier, do you feel you might just have one of the best jobs in the world ?
    Thank you for the article.

  2. Dear Peter, I do not know but to tell the truth, getting my eyes into these Pellaton watches (and a few others) was indeed something!
    Thanks for taking the time to read us.

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