Trilobe, the fledgling French brand with Swiss mechanics, invites us to look at and experience time differently. Bored by the conventional approach of displaying time with central hands, the founder of Trilobe developed a watch that would invert the formula of moving hands and put the hours, minutes and seconds in continuous motion. Gautier Massonneau, the young French entrepreneur behind the brand, launched the brand’s first watch in 2018. Known as Les Matinaux, the watch depicted time travelling past fixed points on the dial. Emboldened by the positive reviews, Massonneau submitted the brand’s next watch, Nuit Fantastique, to the Petite Aiguille category of the GPHG 2021 and produced a table clock for Only Watch 2021 with sculptor Daniel Buren. Using contemporary design codes and an off-centred display for the minutes and seconds, Nuit Fantastique offers a refreshing and unconventional way of reading time. Let’s take a closer look at the Nuit Fantastique in both stainless steel, and 18k rose gold.
Lucky number three
A trilobe is defined as “anything with three lobes”, like a shamrock or three-leaf clover. Not only is the brand’s logo represented by a trilobe, but the three pillars of time – hours, minutes and seconds – are displayed on three rotating discs rotating counter-clockwise.
Backwards and Forwards
The hours are placed on a peripheral ring that rotates in a counter-clockwise direction and aligns with the static trilobe logo at noon. Unlike Les Matinaux, with separate rings for the minutes and seconds, Nuit Fantastique has a figure-eight configuration (symbol of infinity) with intertwined minutes and seconds placed on the left side of the dial. Not only does the eccentric layout add character to the watch, but it frees up a lot of space on the dial.
The minutes advance clockwise in the smaller upper section as the small seconds rotate counterclockwise in the larger lower section. The minutes, which appear in 5-minute increments are indicated by the tip of a triangle and the seconds glide past the wider base of the triangle, also displayed in 5-second intervals with a snailed background and a railway track. Given the 5-min/sec intervals, you are not going to get high-precision readings of the minutes or seconds, which makes me wonder why the designers decided to incorporate a railway track on the seconds? Nevertheless, this approximation to reading time contributes to the appeal of this watch.
The attractive matte grained finishing on the dial gives the watch a contemporary look and contrasts with the more traditional Clous de Paris guilloché-style decoration inside the small seconds ring. Adding depth to the dial, the figure-eight containing the minutes and seconds is recessed and framed with a metal structure to match the case material. The frame of the minutes and seconds features a satin finishing on the surface and polished bevels.
Two Case Sizes
You can tell that Massonneau did his market research thoroughly before embarking on his project because the case comes in two sizes. Offered in 38.5 and 40.5mm diameters with a height of 9.2mm, the case size caters to a much wider range of wrists. Available in stainless steel or rose gold, the gleaming case features mirror-polished surfaces and contrasting satin-brushed finishings on the case middle and caseback. Time is adjusted via the screw-down crown, which can be rotated in both directions to set the hours and minutes. Incidentally, depending on the diameter of the watch, the crown varies from a push-down crown for the 38.5mm to a screw-down crown for the 40.5mm.
The X-Centric concept behind both Les Matinaux and Nuit Fantastique has been developed and is manufactured with high-end movement maker Le Cercle des Horlogers (Jean-François Mojon was originally involved in the R&D phase). Unlike the eccentric layout of the minutes and seconds on the dial, the movement is symmetrical and aligned on a vertical axis.
The sapphire caseback reveals the large 35.2mm automatic movement with grey micro-blasted bridges and plates that underscore its minimalist contemporary look. The micro-rotor at noon is counterbalanced by the balance wheel at 6 o’clock. The movement beats at a frequency of 28,800vph and delivers a power reserve of 48 hours. Not a huge amount of power, but considering the energy required to turn the discs, it is reasonable. Both models come with an alligator leather strap with a pin buckle and spring lugs to change the strap in a cinch.
The stainless steel models, ref. NF01BG for blue and NF01NG for black retail for EUR 8,300 (incl.tax). The rose gold version, ref. NF03HG retails for EUR 18,300 (incl. tax).
For more information, please consult Trilobe.com.