Atelier Wen × Revolution Perception – Xi
Presenting Xi (喜), which means “jubilation” in Mandarin — our first collaboration with Atelier Wen, the microbrand that is tapping on China's very best artisanal and watchmaking capabilities in a refreshingly modern way. Limited and numbered edition of 100 pieces, priced at USD 3,400 net each - Wei Koh, founder of Revolution, The Rake & Grail Watch.
It gives me great pleasure to unveil our latest limited edition, a collaboration with Atelier Wen based on the brand’s wonderful integrated bracelet, sports chic, 100-meter water-resistant watch named Perception. Our version features a matte-brushed and high polished grade 5 titanium case and bracelet. Its unique dial is executed in a stunning red that we feel perfectly captures the essence of emotion and celebration. Accordingly, the watch is named Xi (喜) which, translated from Mandarin, means “jubilation.” And while the watch is remarkably well finished, it features an absolutely ravishing guilloché à main dial individually crafted by Master Cheng Yucai. It is, to me, a fantastic act of contemporary formed art design.
Perhaps what I like best about it as well as the brand Atelier Wen as a whole is that they showcase the very best artisanal and watchmaking capabilities of China in a refreshingly modern way. Atelier Wen is arguably one of the most ambitious watch brands that has emerged from China, and it is an utterly unique cross-cultural project that represents one of the most thrilling overtures in contemporary watchmaking.
The brand was started by Robin Tallendier and Wilfried Buiron, two of the finest minds of their generation.
They both recognized from an early age that the future lay in collaborations between East and West, and accordingly, both sought out degrees at Peking University. Tallendier made such an impact while in China that he was appointed an “Execution Expert” by the Chinese government, which gave him unparalleled access to the legendary Mainland watch companies, including the famous Dandong/ Peacock company. He was also a private equity hot shot until he decided to dedicate his life completely to Atelier Wen. Buiron, who was raised in Hong Kong, graduated from not one but two of China’s top universities, Peking University (where he befriended Tallendier) and Tsinghua University. His command of Mandarin is so complete, he is something of a television personality in China. He is also the founder of a successful start-up, Zaapi, which builds digital commerce infrastructure for Southeast Asian MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises). That both young men are now part of our modern horological community represents a huge asset to us.
The (watch) face of contemporary China
Atelier Wen started with a timepiece named Porcelain Odyssey that showcased the art of Chinese porcelain for its dials. But the duo rapidly followed this up with their integrated bracelet sports chic, 100-meter water resistant timepiece, Perception, a work of remarkable maturity and sensitivity.
It is balanced and ergonomic, beautifully constructed and a wonderful microcosm of nuanced refinement, as evident in particular in its guilloché à main dials. These dials are the fruit of the lifelong dedication of Chinese Master Cheng Yucai to the art of rose engine turning. Fascinated by this traditional English and Swiss decorative technique, which uses gear reduction driven by the human hand to transform elaborate large scale patterns into minute extraordinarily complex engraved dials, but unable to access the largely antique machines needed to perform this mimetic act of transubstantiation, Cheng did the seemingly impossible and designed and built his own. In so doing, he received multiple patents on his machine.
Perception represents something unique — a modern Chinese timepiece. Tallendier and Buiron took inspiration from the shape of ancient pagoda rooftops for the case sides and from the windows of pagodas for the center links of the bracelet. They were also fascinated with a traditional building construction method called Sunmao (榫卯), which doesn’t rely on nails or cement, but uses complex interlocking joinery. In Perception, the dial actually comprises two layers that are 0.5mm and 0.4mm in thickness. The top level is made of the special copper compound and has the guilloché pattern engraved on it. The bottom features the indexes which fit through slots cut into the upper dial. Both levels are locked in place by the chapter ring without using any screws or soldering or glue. “We wanted to express what we love about Chinese culture in a more complex way,” Tallendier says.
Atelier Wen × Revolution Perception – Xi
For the circular panier design of our collaboration, Tallendier and Buiron asked Master Cheng to create 36 separate sections at the edge of the dial, instead of the normal 24. As these patterns converge at the center, they become so tiny that keeping them distinct is an incredible challenge.
And while the steel version of Perception already presented challenges in terms of the perfect integration between the watch head and integrated bracelet, which is seamless and without gaps, the use of grade 5 titanium in our limited edition significantly increased the level of difficulty, especially when it came to achieving the mirror polish of the concave bezel and the same treatment on all the bevels of the watch and on the bracelet.
Tallendier and Buiron also pushed their movement maker, the Dandong watch movement factory, to create a slimmer version of their most ambitious automatic caliber, the SL1. Says Tallendier, “For us, it was really important that Perception features a sense of elegance in its proportions. We wanted a 40mm case size, but also a slim profile. Thanks to the creation of the SL1588 for us, we were able to keep the thickness of the watch at just 9.4mm.”
The integrated titanium bracelet even features a quick micro-adjustment system where you are able to increase or decrease the bracelet length with a mere push of the Atelier Wen logo. Tallendier reveals, “This is actually version two of the micro-adjustment mechanism; we are constantly seeking to improve every aspect of our watches.”
A contemporary watch for the modern customer, Xi offers multiple ways of wearing, in particular on the titanium bracelet, but also on a variety of multi-colored straps. In order to do this, a quick-change system that was effortless to use, but also very secure, was fitted to the spring bars. Rubber straps have become a real staple in the luxury watch market, and so a white-colored rubber strap is offered along with the bracelet for a fresh and uplifting pairing.
I can state without a moment’s hesitation that the Atelier Wen × Revolution Perception – Xi made in collaboration with Revolution is uplifting indeed. It is uplifting for its design appeal and the sheer luminous beauty of its handcrafted dial. It is uplifting as it represents a strong value proposition for a watch with a grade 5 titanium case and guilloché à main dial. It is also wonderfully ergonomic and made with impressive quality. But it is perhaps most uplifting because it is the labor of love of two men who want us to change the way we see Chinese watchmaking. As such, the watch is an expression of their sincerity and passion for the country and its artisanal and watchmaking capabilities.
Atelier Wen × Revolution Perception – Xi
Limited edition of 100 pieces
- Material: Grade 5 titanium
- Diameter: 40 mm
- Thickness: 9.05 mm
- High-polished convex bezel
- Glass: Double-domed sapphire crystal
- Screw-down crown
- Semi-display case back engraved with a Chinese guardian lion
- Watr-resistant to 100 meters
Dial and hands
- Flaming red handmade guilloché dial with a concentric wave pattern
- Rhodium-plated hands filled with SuperLuminova
- Applied rhodium-plated indices that fit through cut-outs on the upper dial
- Raised chapter ring decorated with a luminous Chinese lattice pattern
- Ultra-thin self-winding SL1588 movement produced by Liaoning Peacock in Dandong
- Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve of 41 hours
- Finished with perlage on the base plate and Geneva stripes on the bridges
- Hours, minutes, seconds
Strap and buckle
- Integrated FKM rubber strap with 316L stainless steel folding clasp
- (also comes with a grade 5 titanium bracelet with micro-adjustment and quick-release system)
MSRP: USD 3'400
For more information, please visit revolutionwatch.com