French Independent Watchmaker
Trilobe is a relatively new watchmaker based in Paris, France and founded in 2018 by Gautier Massonneau who is also the CEO. Massonneau wanted to create sophisticated watches with unique ways of relaying the time, specifically without conventional hands. He doesn’t come from a watchmaking family and has a background in banking/finance, but the young entrepreneur was determined to fill a void in the niche corner of independent watchmaking. The culmination of years of development was an inaugural watch with a series of rotating discs and three stationary pointers to show hours, minutes and seconds. This unusual wandering time display had an hour disc at the perimeter, off-centre minute disc and openworked rosace seconds disc. It was called Les Matinaux, French for “The Morning Ones” (referencing a poem collection by René Char), and it really set the tone for collections to come.
Les Matinaux was well received and positive reviews motivated Gautier to create Trilobe’s second piece, Nuit Fantastique, and submit it to the Petite Aiguille category of the GPHG 2021. He also produced a table clock in collaboration with French conceptual artist Daniel Buren for Only Watch 2021. The clock shared the overall design with Les Matinaux with black and white stripes that Buren is known for. The stripes on the discs and clock frame aligned twice per day. Nuit Fantastique strayed from the original aesthetic while maintaining the Trilobe formula. An hour disc remained at the perimeter, but minutes were confined to an off-center aperture with a larger and exposed seconds disc underneath (forming a figure-eight). Trilobe means “anything with three lobes” like a three leaf clover, which was clearly evident in the first two watches and clock – three pillars of time. The brand’s logo (doubling as pointers on the dial) is also a trilobe.
The third watch, Une Folle Journée, really pushed the boundaries of design by giving the original Les Matinaux a three-dimensional makeover. Underneath a very high and bulbous Japanese sapphire crystal (10.2mm) are three floating discs (via columns) with visible mechanics at and under the base dial. Hours are seen at the perimeter with off-center minutes and then seconds, and all elements are titanium to keep weight low and durability high.
Powering all collections is a proprietary Swiss movement, the Calibre X-Centric that’s designed with Mojon and Le Cercle des Horlogers. It’s a well-executed micro-rotor with 33 jewels, a 48-hour power reserve and beat rate of 28,800vph (4Hz), and it’s comprised of 230 components. Although founded in 2018, Trilobe has hit the ground running with complex and sophisticated pieces that bely its young status in the industry.