Dreams do come true. In the US, anyone who has played fantasy football or attended an all-star baseball game knows the synergistic thrill of combining top talent from various sources. These sports venues reveal a dream team in action, and Maîtres du Temps embodies this concept for the watch world; the Chapter One Round Transparence is their latest dream realized.
The Transparence is an evolution of the Chapter One Round (first introduced in 2007), and provides a voyeuristic view of its inner workings. When you pay close to half-a-million dollars, own one watch of only eleven made, and have the creative duo of Peter Speake-Marin and Christophe Claret design the watch, viewing the movement provides a greater appreciation of the watch’s alchemy. Those of us who fail to make the Forbes 500 list of the world’s richest people can dream, knowing that somewhere, there is such a watch.
Is Maîtres du Temps a watch company, manufacturer, consortium, collaboration, or pantheon? Yes. All of the above. Having the best-of-the-best independent watch makers partner to construct original creations, paradigmatic of their master craft, is Maîtres du Temps’ vision. “Maîtres du Temps puts the watchmakers first,” says Claret. “It allows the client, the lover of extremely complicated watchmaking, to get to know the creators of the product, those who have designed, made, and assembled the timepiece.” As much a concept as a company, not unlike Harry Winston’s Opus One, Maîtres du Temps brings “what if” to reality. We have covered the Chapter Two (also titanium version) and the recent 2013 Chapter Three, and now we return to the elite of the collections, Chapter One.
Peter Speake-Marin and Christophe Claret took the original tonneau shaped Chapter One (which they designed with Roger Dubuis) and made it round. Easier said than done. “After working on Chapter One for nearly two years, I was struck by the strength in the design of this round version: it is far stronger in character and presence than I dared hope for,” says Peter Speake-Marin. This new skeletonized version, the Transparence, allows you to look through the laser-etched sapphire dial to admire the decorated bridges, beveled edges and mechanical sophistication. “Transparence offers a glimpse into the world of the master watchmaker. The sapphire dial reveals the often-concealed inner workings of the timepiece and its high level of craftsmanship. Looking into the movement—the soul of the watch—gives one an appreciation of how the watch was created, the human hands that touched it, the ingenuity that formed it,” says Founder Steven Holtzman.
Normally such views are relegated to the back of the watch, and when you do look through the Transparence’s octagonal sapphire display back, you will see a chronograph bridge unique to this rendition. It is the darkest of the visible bridges. Maîtres du Temps uses a patented plating process, which combines platinum, rhodium, ruthenium, and palladium (all precious metals belonging to the platinum family), and this plating process results in the bridge’s darkened color. On the left is the column wheel for the mono-pusher chronograph. The overlapping perlage decoration on the lower bridges creates a shimmering effect.
The curved 18K red gold case has an ergonomic fit to the wrist. What a case it is; never mind the ingenuity for a round metamorphosis of the Chapter One, the case employs a variety of finishing to dazzle the beholder. Instead of only telling time from the flat display of the dial, the Chapter One Round uses the entire case. As the eye roves away from the dial, it meets the rolling indications within the lugs, a signature for the brand. At the top is a patented moon phase indication, and at the bottom is the day. Delivering power 90 degrees to the two rollers while they work in synchronization with the other complications is a technological feat. The four pushers, two on either side, correct the date, day, GMT and moon phase respectively and require a slight sliding with the thumb before pushing. The chronograph with its solitary red seconds hand is a mono-pusher, meaning start/stop/reset are activated by pushing the crown.
In addition to the sculptural functionality of the watch, this watch’s uniqueness resides in its overall combination of complications. Despite some 678 components having come together, 558 of which make up the movement, which has 58 jewels and a 60 hour power reserve, the watch is deceptively easy to view and use. The Caliber SHC02 features a 60 second tourbillon, and 3hz balance frequency, which in an age of silicon derived 10hz plus über fast escapements, chooses to slow things down from the traditional 4hz. A cutout window displays the tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock, and notice how the resting chronograph seconds hand’s counterpoise aligns with the tourbillon. In total, the watch boasts a mono-pusher chronograph, retrograde date, retrograde GMT, tourbillon, moon phase, and day indication – 6 complications.
Looking to the dial we see the retrograde date on the right and the retrograde GMT on the left; retrograde means once the hand reaches the bottom of its index, it snaps back to the top. The small seconds sub-dial ornaments the top. These three complications, date, GMT and small seconds, register on the laser etched sapphire dial, which is an ultra-thin .40mm, making it nearly invisible and a challenge to anchor the indicators. 20 laser cut holes receive the applied batons. Only the patience and skill of a master watch maker could achieve such a result. Super-LumiNova coats the diamond cut faucet central hands, batons and hand painted chapter ring, providing 24 hour visibility. Together, the dial and the case make up a horological landscape.
If seeing is believing, then the Chapter One Round Transparence offers a view into what is possible. Match creativity with talent, and a Morpheus-like vision unfolds of how time at the upper echelon appears. May all your dreams be as pleasant.
Chapter One Round Transparence – Limited Edition of 11 pieces
Manual-wind mechanical movement, one-minute tourbillon, mono-pusher chronograph, retrograde date indicator, retrograde GMT indicator, day of the week indication on roller, patented precise moon phase indication on roller.
Please visit the Maîtres du Temps website (click here) for information about specifications and availability.