Hands-On With The Beaubleu Union Collection A young Parisian brand trying to shake things up a bit by Jorg Weppelink May 08, 2020 MIN READHands-On With The Beaubleu Union Collection
Is the Parisian way the way to success for Beaubleu? The young Parisian brand introduced its first Beaubleu B01 collection back in 2017. Now it is ready to take the next step with the all-new Beaubleu Union collection.
Based on the same principles with a string of new designs, the Union collection brings us some well-thought-out timepieces. We got our hands on two of the new watches to find out if the people behind Beaubleu truly are the “enfants terribles” of the watch industry.
The avalanche of new watch brands shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. More and more brands are looking for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. However, we must be realistic. As well-intentioned as many of these new marks may be, not many will survive. Only a few will be in it for the long run.
Does that make me overly critical of new brands in general? No, not at all. I love seeing new brands pop up. It’s an excellent chance to see how they are trying to build their brand successfully. Let’s dig into how Beaubleu is trying to find its way in the crowded market with its Union collection.
The Beaubleu story
The story of Beaubleu is the story of Parisian designer Nicolas Pham. He decided to use his experience in luxury and automotive design to start his watch brand based out of Paris. Historically, Paris is connected to some of the great names in watchmaking like Breguet and Cartier. But the city has also seen some smaller and newer brands like Fugue, Serica, and especially Baltic become successful as of late. Beaubleu fits in this last line of names perfectly, with a desire to bring something new to the world of affordable watches.
While many of these younger brands attempt to justify their existence with a long story full of ambitious marketing talk, Beaubleu thinks differently. To this Parisian brand, the solution is simple. In the end, it’s all about the product.
The good thing about Beaubleu is that it has connected its mission statement to the design and innovation of the product. Whether or not the founders’ vision lives up to the “enfants terribles” image they claim, or not, they do have their own distinct view on design. And, crucially, that does set them apart from many rival other brands. Whether they can successfully “challenge the status-quo of the classical watchmaking by combining innovation and design” remains to be seen.
Building the Beaubleu Union collection
Beaubleu’s first collection was the B01 collection that was introduced in 2017 and consisted of four different executions of the same design. The all-new Union collection is a bit of a different story. “Union” is the overall name of the collection, and within the collection, you have the Left Bank line and the Right Bank line. Essentially they are two different models that come in a variety of configurations that also have their name. Sounds confusing? Stay with me because we’re not there yet. The Right Bank line has two models, the Brio Emerald Green and the Brio Klein Blue. The Left Bank line has four models, Olympe, Audace Black, Intrepide Klein Blue, and the Intrepide Alabaster White.
…this could do with one less layer in the build-up.
Unfortunately, this is taking it a step too far in creating a clear collection. I get the ambition of creating an individual offer, but this could do with one less layer in the build-up. For this review, we received the Olympe from the Left Bank line and the Brio Emerald Green from the Right Bank line to see how they differ from other watches out there and each other.
Coming up with a unique design
As stated in their mission statement, Beaubleu tries to challenge the status quo in the watch industry with innovation and design. So let’s take a closer look at the design of both watches. Both the Olympe and the Brio have the same well-designed case design and are defined by their unusual round handset. Both of these features are the design trademarks for Beaubleu and give the brand’s watches their charm. At first glance, I was intrigued and pleasantly surprised by the level of detailed thinking that went into both watches.
…the creators have come up with a layered case design that’s pretty unique.
Firstly, the 39mm case was developed together with the Swiss company Golay & Spierer. By hollowing out the horns over the full lengths of the sides of the case, the creators have come up with a layered case design that’s pretty special. This layered design creates an excellent profile for the watch that is further accentuated by the skeletonized and open lugs. You would not think when looking at the face of the watch that the case has such intricate details. It’s a well thought out design, and I have to admit that I looked at the side profile of both watches at least as much as the faces of each watch.
The circular handset
The second element that sets Beaubleu apart from many competitors is the use of a circular handset that is inspired by the work of the father of modern astronomy Galilei. The handset consists of three circles, all different in sizes. The seconds hand is the biggest. Next is the minute hand. And finally, the smallest of the three is the hour hand. The hour and minute hand circles have a small dot that indicates hours and minutes. To assure readability, the hour hand indicates hours on the inner track on the dial. The minute hand, being the bigger circle, indicates minutes on the outer track of the dial.
…the movement of the hands is something charming to look at.
It’s a smart play on indicating the time, but it does take some getting used to. Once you know what to look for, it does become more comfortable to read the time. But if you are looking to read the time quickly when you are busy, the round hands are not always helpful. And switching back and forth between a standard handset and the Beaubleu handset doesn’t help in getting comfortable with the circular hands. Although the movement of the hands is something charming to look at, the overall practicality of the handset is unfortunately not always the best.
French design, Japanese technique
The automatic Miyota 9015 movement powers all the watches in the Union collection. The movement is visible through the sapphire crystal case back and is finished with Bienbleu branding. It’s a nice touch to the standard movement from the Miyota 9000-series. The movement can also be hand-wound, which in the case of the Beaubleu wasn’t particularly comfortable to do. The sharp-edged crown of the Beaublue watches makes winding the watch quite an uncomfortable experience, making my fingers hurt.
Although the movement is part of Miyota’s Premium Automatic series, it’s a Miyota standard movement that is reliable. The 9015 often gets paired up against the ETA 2824-2 movement in a battle for the best affordable and dependable movement, resulting in personal opinions rather than a clear winner based on specs or facts. My personal preference? The ETA 2824-2 for one particular reason.
…you don’t hear the movement at all when you wear the watch.
What I don’t like about the Miyota 9015 is that you can hear the movement if you give it a decent spin. Admitted, it’s not as loud as Miyota’s 8215 movement that sounds like it could take off from your wrist at any second. But give the movement in the Beaubleu watches a spin and hold it close to your ear, and you will hear it. Some people don’t mind that, some people even like the sound, but I am not a fan in all honesty. Somehow it does something with my perception of quality, although it does not affect the performance of the movement at all. And you don’t hear the movement at all when you wear the watch. But I’d rather not hear the movement at all, especially not when it’s classical looking, almost dressy watches like the Beaubleu watches.
The Left Bank — Olympe
From the overall elements that connect all the Beaubleu watches, it’s time to zoom in on the individual models. As mentioned, all the models in the collection feature a 39mm stainless steel case that is 9.4mm thick and some of the models feature a PVD coating. The Olympe specifically features a stainless steel case with a rose gold PVD coating. In combination with the white dial, rose gold plated hands, and the black leather strap, it makes for a nice classical looking watch.
The rose gold PVD case is polished for the most part, and the bezel is brushed to create a nice contrast. The hour and minute hand are also rose gold, and the seconds hand is blue. They float above the white dial, where the hour hand indicates the hours on the inner rose gold track. The minute hand indicates the minutes on a printed black outer minute track that features the Beaubleu wordmark at the 12 o’clock position.
The Beaubleu logo
The Beaubleu logo is placed on the dial just above the center, where it sits in between the inner track and the center of the dial. It’s not often that we see the word mark and logo separated, but I understand the choice to do so. There is not enough room in the inner track to place the logo and wordmark without it either becoming too small or too cluttered.
I have to say I like the design of the dial of the Olympe. It takes a bit of time to get used to, but it’s well thought out. The watch is available with a black, blue, or green leather strap and features a rose gold PVD folding clasp. A folding clasp that is not the best in quality, I must add. It feels shaky at best and there are better options out there to use for a watch in the price range of €500-1,000.
The Right Bank — Brio Emerald Green
The Brio Emerald Green is one of two models in the Right Bank line. It features a beautiful dark green curved dial. The green color of the Brio dial is spectacular. As time passed, I started developing a preference for the Brio Emerald Green over the Olympe. The Brio features the same stainless steel case as the Olympe but is not finished with a PVD coating. A polished stainless steel case with a brushed bezel gives it a bit more of a contemporary look.
The green dial features a white printed dotted inner track indicating the hours and minute markers for every five minutes that form the outer track. The handset consists of a white hour and minute hand filled with SuperLuminova and a green seconds hand. Regarding the SuperLuminova, in darker circumstances, it was tough to notice it, and therefore reading the time was very difficult.
For the Brio, Pham chose to swap the wordmark and logo, making the logo the 60-minute marker. Overall you could say that the layout looks a bit more conventional, but in use, that’s not true at all. We are used to reading the hours on the outer track that Pham uses to read the minutes. The Brio Emerald Green also comes with the choice of a black, blue or green leather strap and the same steel folding clasp as on the Olympe. One thing that stood out for the black strap on the Brio is that the sides were painted in a lighter blue color. When I looked at the black strap from the Olympe, I also noticed that the sides were painted in very dark blue. It was hardly noticeable, but there was a slight color difference to create a mix of colors.
Wearing the watches
Overall both watches wear very comfortably on the wrist. The 39mm case is an excellent size. The design of the case is something your eyes are drawn to quite often. But with the good looks also come several elements that I wasn’t a big fan of. My biggest practical complaint is the reading of the time. I must admit that the play of circles does look nice. But, as mentioned before, I mix up watches — as most watch owners do — and that made it difficult to get used to the time-telling method. I guess that if you only wear a Beaubleu watch, you will get used to it eventually. But for someone who wears multiple watches, it can become annoying that you have to adapt to the way you read time constantly.
Despite its good looks, both watches are not the best when it comes to overall build quality. As mentioned earlier, the sharp crown and the shaky clasp are another two elements that could use improvement. The leather straps could also use some work. The quality is okay but both are very short and the painted sides, in my opinion, do not add anything. Obviously it’s always a debate on what to expect for watches priced between 500 and 1,000 Euros. But some start-up brands have shown that it is possible to create a very good watch for that kind of money. The thing with the Beaubleu watches is that they look very nice and classy and I would want the build quality to be in line with that. And I’m not sure that it is at the moment.
Pricing & Availability
Both the Olympe and Brio are available on pre-order for €620. Once the pre-order period is over, the price for both will be €790 through the Beaubleu website. Both of the models have a great deal of charm. The design is well-thought-out and the watches look good. However, as mentioned earlier, no matter how good the looks or the story, it all comes down to quality.
When choosing a Beaubleu watch you get a well-designed watch with a solid movement for a decent price. And with those looks, I bet there are a lot of people that will actually get one. But to truly push the status quo, there are some steps to be made. And I hope the brand makes these changes. All the elements are there to take it to the next level. It just needs that final push. You can visit the official Beaubleu website here.
Brand Beaubleu ModelOlympe and Brio Emerald GreenDialOlympe – Alabaster White, Brio Emerald Green – Emerald GreenCase MaterialOlympe – Stainless steel with rose gold PVD coating, Brio Emerald Green – Stainless steelCase DimensionsDiameter: 39mm , Thickness: 9,4mmCrystalSapphireCase BackScrew down case back with sapphire crystalMovementMiyota caliber 9015 automatic movement, Power reserve: 42 hours, Ticking Speed: 28.800 vphWater ResistanceWater resistance: 30 meters (3ATM)StrapOlympe – black leather strap with dark blue sides, Brio Emerald Green – black leather strap with bright blue sidesFunctionsHours, Minutes, SecondsPricePre-order: €620. After pre-order: €790 Watch of the Week
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About the author
Jorg has been working in marketing & communications for 15 years. He is specialised in developing brand strategy, brand portfolio, brand design and brand communications. Besides, he loves watches and the stories that make them worthwhile. He can be spotted… read more
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