Just like the phoenix rises from its ashes, something beautiful can emerge from destruction. Or, in this case, almost destruction… What you see here should not have existed. What you see here should have gone straight into the trash, resulting from rejection at quality control and not passing the desired standards. What you see here is a watch that celebrates resilience and redemption. What you see here is a watch that feels familiar for a reason, but that has been given a sense of artful dismissal by its creators and a well-known guest who’s all about twisting things. What you see here is the Wristcheck x Atelier Wen Perception 传承 with Seconde/Seconde/, and it should not have existed. But it does.
Looking closely at this new edition of the Atelier Wen Perception, you are bound to recognise its Jade green dial colour, its integrated design and its highly intricate dial pattern. For the most part, this new take on the Chinese-inspired and partially made luxury sports watch is identical to an edition presented last year, the Atelier Wen Perception x Wristcheck. And there are obvious reasons for this resemblance. But more on that in a few. Let’s first go back in time a bit.
On one side, we have Atelier Wen, a young brand created in China by Frenchmen Robin and Wilfried, exploring Chinese design craftsmanship and culture and proving most pre-conceived notions regarding Chinese watchmaking wrong. Since its creation, Atelier Wen has been on a mission to demonstrate that China has the knowledge to create handsome, intricate watches with distinctive designs and artistic dials, with models such as the Odyssey and, recently, the Perception. On the other side is Austen Chu, one of the most active collectors of the upcoming generation and founder of Wristcheck, an innovative watch marketplace based in Hong Kong.
Based on the success of the brand’s luxury sports watch with integrated design, the Perception, Austen Chu created a special edition for Wristcheck, with a Jade-green dial, a specific guilloché pattern and a titanium case/bracelet. A 100-piece limited edition that sold out almost instantly after launch. So what about the watch we’re looking at today? As always, when creating a high-end object, specifically when the hand of a craftsman is involved, not everything goes as planned. When crafting the handsome jade green guilloché dial for this special edition, Master Cheng, China’s sole master guilloché craftsman, used a hand-operated rose engine. Following that, each dial underwent rigorous quality control and scrutiny by Master Cheng and Robin Tallendier to find the slightest irregularity in its guilloché pattern. As you can imagine, some dials were rejected by Tallendier (not an easy decision to make knowing the time and cost of these dials).
The rejected dials were later marked with a single cut by Master Cheng, roughly half the dial diameter of the dial, with the position of the cut differing for each dial. In total, 36 dials were rejected to ensure that the 100 pieces made for Wristcheck were as close as possible to standards. And that could have been the end of the story… But then, Austen Chu, Wristcheck’s co-founder and CEO, saw an opportunity not only to save these dials but also to create something beautiful out of what should have been destruction. And here enters the last party to this story, Paris-based artist Romaric André, known as seconde/seconde/.
Known for his humoristic, slightly “out of the box” thinking, André immediately felt the need to reverse the destruction process. He envisioned a metamorphosis: transforming these rejected dials into something beautiful, infused with a story and a human touch. Breathing life into the once cast-aside… The jade-toned, guilloché dials with Soleil Inca pattern (which are, for this part, identical to the dials of the 100-piece limited series) have been healed, brought back to life with seconde/seconde/ Romaric André surgery in an almost literal sense of the word.
Three cross-stitches in pure 24k gold, matching the solid 18k gold hands (the standard versions feature rhodium-plated hands), not only breathe new life into the watch but are reminiscent of the ancient Chinese technique “锔瓷” (jū cí) used to mend Celadon porcelains. As Master Cheng cut each laceration into the dials in different areas, all 36 dials are essentially unique. A final touch to the Wristcheck x Atelier Wen Perception 传承 is that there’s no branding on the dial, a punishment enforced by seconde/seconde/.
Beyond the healing of this mark of disgrace on the dial, these Wristcheck x Atelier Wen Perception are now housed in a 904L stainless steel case and not in titanium anymore. The rest, save for some specific engravings on the back, is identical to previous iterations of this watch. This surprisingly integrated sports watch measures a highly pleasant 40mm diameter, with a 47mm length and a fairly controlled thickness of 9.4mm. Under close inspection, the finishing, which combines vertically brushed surfaces and strong, contrasting polished accents, is rather impressive and detailed. Water-resistant to 100m, the Perception features a screw-down crown and a sapphire crystal.
The back retains the deeply embossed pattern – a shishi motif – with a partial sapphire crystal revealing some of the movement. The rotor is plated in green. The movement itself is a customised extra-thin Dandong SL1588. Beating at 4Hz, this movement boasts a 41h power reserve and is adjusted in 5 positions to heat and cold. The finishing includes Geneva stripes, perlage and polished bevels. It is worn on a 904L steel integrated bracelet, with great attention to detail. It combines vertically brushed surfaces and polished bevels on the edges, and the clasp features an “on-the-fly” micro-adjustment device. Equipped with an easy-interchangeability system, the watch is also delivered with a grey FKM rubber strap.
The Wristcheck x Atelier Wen Perception 传承 with Seconde/Seconde/ is a limited edition of 36 pieces available for purchase online exclusively on wristcheck.com from 10 AM HKT on 29 November 2023. It will be priced at HKD 39,000 or USD 5,000. For more technical details about the base model, please consult our articles here and here and atelierwen.com.