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Despite the passage of time, the iconic Art Deco design sensibilities of the 1930s and the evolutionary styles of the 1950s and 1960s remain favorites among watch enthusiasts. Few enthusiasts understand this better than esteemed Singaporean watch collector Benjamin Chee, whose expertise has guided both the incredible creations of Benjamin Chee Haute Horologerie and the uniquely Chinese artisanship of Maison Celadon.
For his latest endeavor, Chee has launched Atelier Millésime (abbreviated as AM), dedicated to reinterpreting and blending these classic designs into an altogether superior new vision. The brand’s name translates literally to “Vintage Workshop,” and AM is a true workshop in every sense of the word, lovingly handcrafting each timepiece in a family-owned facility in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland. The choice of a Swiss-French name further honors the ancestral design tradition of these stunning pieces.
The central concept of AM is the idea of “fantasy vintage,” combining design influences from the classic timepieces of the Art Deco era with the 1950s and ‘60s to create something greater than the sum of its parts, while raising the build quality, reliability and movements far beyond anything in the original period.
AM launched initially in 2018 with the Merveilleux dress watch and the haute horologerie Majestique, swiftly selling out the entire first production run. After a year of continuous refinement and improvement, AM celebrates a successful first year with the launch of three new models for 2019 – the high-end Monarque diver, the Merveilleux Enamel dress watch featuring a hand-carved guilloché enamel dial, and the improved Merveilleux II featuring a superior movement.
The AM Monarque is a true high-end diver, combining 1960s dive watch styling with thoroughly modern finishing and an incredible movement. The hand-finished 316L stainless steel case topped with a 120 click sapphire bezel is water resistant to 200 meters for respectable diving prowess, available in both a standard 40mm size, and a special-order 42mm variant.
Visible through a broad caseback display window, the Monarque’s finely finished Vaucher Calibre 3002 twin barrel automatic movement has been CLA certified to chronometer accuracy. Although AM is one of only a handful of brands in the world to receive movements from Vaucher, the atelier ensures that servicing costs and intervals for this exotic movement are reasonable. All movement service is performed at cost by AM itself at one of its numerous service centers worldwide for a quick two- to four-week turnaround.
While the dial of the Monarque features styling reminiscent of the 1960s, the finishing is far beyond anything watchmakers could achieve in that period. Both the hands and applied indices are faceted for superior visibility and dynamic light play, then hand-applied over an exquisite fumée dial in either deep azure or racing green.
The AM Monarque is available to order now on the brand’s website at a retail price of approximately $2,850. Upon order, buyers will be contacted by a brand concierge to confirm dial color and case size preference.
Building on AM’s inaugural dress watch offering, the Merveilleux Enamel elevates the elegant dress watch style with a traditional hand-carved guilloché enamel dial, available in both flinqué and champlevé patterns. After painting and firing multiple times in an enamel oven, most dials are rejected, while only the very best examples are selected for installation in the Merveilleux Enamel. The result is a rich, dynamic finish in either ivory, burgundy, or racing green.
The svelte 39mm hand-brushed and -polished case of the Merveilleux Enamel draws inspiration from the great dress timepieces of the mid-20th century. Its curvaceous teardrop lugs may look simple, but in adapting these forms from the undersized styles of the 1950s AM has extensively reshaped the design to remain elegant on a variety of wrist sizes. While vintage lugs of this type were typically soldered to the main case, the Merveilleux Enamel’s lugs are painstakingly CNC milled together with the case as a single unit for greater durability. Despite the watch’s delicate appearance, durability is a top priority for the Merveilleux series, resulting in 100 meters of water resistance. The crown at 3 o’clock is both wide and extremely slim, offering easy operation while remaining nearly flush with the case for a perfect balance of elegance and practicality.
This stunning timepiece is available from AM’s website for approximately $1990.
The stylishly refined case of the Merveilleux Enamel is also shared with the new Merveilleux II, along with a shared movement. This Soprod M100 automatic movement is presented here in its highest R4 grade, offering a stunning 99.99 percent daily accuracy rate for a variance of no more than four seconds per day.
Beyond the dependable accuracy, the thinness of the new Soprod M100 powerplant allows the Merveilleux II to be more svelte and elegant than the previous Merveilleux I. The clean, classically inspired dial of the Merveilleux II is available in a choice of silver, burgundy or racing green.
The improved Merveilleux II is priced at approximately $1490. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.
Owning an AM timepiece is about more than just beautiful timepieces. Each owner enters into an exclusive community of enthusiasts with unique benefits. Owners receive special travel benefits including complimentary upgrades and amenities, VIP treatment at hundreds of luxury hotels across the globe, along with complimentary champagne and priority reservations at a variety of Michelin starred restaurants worldwide.
In addition, a portion of the proceeds from each AM timepiece goes directly towards providing food, shelter, and care for homeless and abandoned dogs in Singapore through AM’s adopted dog shelter Gentle Paws.
For more information, please visit ateliermillesime.ch.
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