Massena LAB x Revolution Uni-Racer 1949
Presenting our first collaboration with William Massena, the Uni-Racer 1949, a modern mechanical chronograph with an elegant mid-century aesthetic that is inspired by our shared love of historical watches. Available in a limited edition of 120 pieces, priced at USD 3,750 each, excluding taxes. WORDS BY WEI KOH, FOUNDER OF REVOLUTION, THE RAKE & GRAIL WATCH
It gives me great pleasure to announce our collaboration with Massena LAB, a Massena LAB Uni-Racer inspired by a legendary chronograph watch from 1949.
It uses the 39mm Uni-Racer platform created by William Massena and features a tribute to a Patek Philippe chronograph with one of the most famous dials ever created — a black lacquer model with a luminous Roman numeral sector ring, and luminous syringe hands in blued steel surrounded by a tachymeter. While the vintage watch is probably a million-dollar-plus unicorn, we wanted to create a contemporary timepiece that channels the emotional expressiveness of this unique design, with all the benefits of an excellent Swiss-made mechanical sports chronograph.
The Massena LAB Uni-Racer 1949 will be made in just 120 examples and is priced at USD3,750. It is available on RevolutionWatch.com on 28 July 2023, 10pm SGT / 4pm CET / 10am EST.
Made for greatness
William Massena has had many incarnations over his professional life. He started off as a banker but his love for watches eventually had him opening a vintage watch shop in Miami and in New York. He went from moderating TimeZone to becoming its managing director when it was purchased by WatchNet. Eventually, the auction house Antiquorum purchased TimeZone and made Massena an offer to become its chief operating officer. But it was with the creation of Massena LAB in 2018 that William Massena found his true calling.
He describes Massena LAB not so much as the creator of collaborative limited edition watches but more of a “horological think tank.” He explains, “It is a place where we can explore the question ‘What if?’ I remember as collectors we would always ask each other, ‘What if a brand were to make this or that version of their watch, or they were to resurrect a past icon?’”
Indeed, the watches and occasional clocks created by Massena LAB have since shaken up the watch world, demonstrating the incredible expressive capacity of Massena’s imagination and yielding some of the most coveted timepieces around. They include multiple Unimatic watches (you could argue that Massena LAB was a huge launching pad for the brand), the phenomenal “Old School” watch in collaboration with Luca Soprana, featuring a bespoke three-quarter-plate German silver movement, several Habring2 watches including a sublime monopusher chronograph perpetual calendar, partnerships with Louis Erard, Mathey-Tissot and independent watchmaker Raúl Pagès.
But it was in the creation of his own watch model, named the Uni-Racer, a modern watch inspired by the Universal Genève Compax chronographs, that Massena developed a cult following all of his own, with the watch even forming the platform for a collaboration with Romaric André, otherwise known as seconde/seconde/.
The size of the Uni-Racer’s 316L steel case is perfect at 39mm in diameter and 9mm in thickness. It features an acrylic crystal, produced by Kyburz et Cie in Switzerland, replicating the look of a vintage unit. The movement within is the Sellita SW510 M Elaboré with 58 hours of power reserve and a 4Hz vibrational rate. The Uni-Racer is confirmation that, in his own right, Massena is a brilliant watchmaker.
The success of the Uni-Racer demonstrated that if Massena LAB was all about the “What if?” then William Massena had just emphatically answered the question IF he could create his very own watch. He could and it kicked ass — just as his next watch, the Geometer launched in 2022, would continue to do. I was so impressed with the Uni-Racer that I eventually tracked Massena down to ask if he would consider a collaboration with me.
Massena's take: the Uni-Racer 1949
During our conversation, we realized that we both were huge fans of vintage Patek Philippe history and the extraordinary tome Patek Philippe Steel Watches created by our mutual friend Auro Montanari, whose own nom de plume is John Goldberger. The book is an extraordinary chronicle of these ultimate unicorns.
Why are steel Pateks such an anomaly and rarity? Says Montanari, “Before the advent of the Nautilus, there were very few made simply because they cost almost the same as a precious metal watch. You had to be a rakish sportsman, roguish adventurer or remarkably cool maharaja to order one of these timepieces from Patek.”
The array of steel horological finery, in particular focused on the reference 130 and 1463 chronographs, to me represents the most thrilling watches ever created. In particular, I was captivated by one watch displayed in Montanari’s book. Said Massena when I mentioned this, “Wait, I’m pulling up an image of a watch I designed and that I think you will like.” And with that, he showed me an image of a watch with a dial that was an absolutely faithful tribute to the incredible timepiece that I was totally enamored with.
It appears on page 220 of Montanari’s book. It is a reference 130 chronograph featuring a Valjoux 23 ébauche configured as the famous Patek caliber 13-130. The movement was manufactured in 1940 and encased and sold in 1949. It goes to show you how rarely chronographs were sold in that era. It is fitted, of course, in the signature three-body circular case of the reference 130 of the style launched in 1936.
But it is the dial of this watch that makes it truly transcendent. Because the dial is configured as a black lacquer base featuring a luminous sector track with Roman numerals — the one and only time that Patek Philippe used this design. This incredible timepiece is complemented by bold blued steel luminous syringe hands.
“Oh my God, that’s the watch!” I exclaimed. This moment should have been accompanied by Richard Strauss’ Thus Spoke Zarathustra as a soundtrack. Massena simply chuckled knowingly. And with that, the question “What if we were to collaborate?” was answered.
Bear in mind this was over two years ago. Since then, my dear friend Andrea Furlan has totally independently created one of his lovely mecha-quartz chronographs with a dial in the same spirit. I recall the moment I saw his watch and shared its image with Massena. He asked, “What do you think? How shall we proceed?”
I replied, “I think Andrea is brilliant, but our watch is different. It’s your Uni-Racer with the dial we love. And it is a Swiss-made mechanical chronograph, while his watch is a mecha-quartz.” We were both in agreement, and we decided to forge ahead.
The perfectionist that he is, Massena took multiple passes at the prototype. The first watch, which I considered to be almost perfect, caused him to shake his head in disdain: “No, the lacquer of the dial is not right. It has to be much more glossy as I imagine the original watch was when it was delivered in 1949. Also, even though the lume is color-matched to the vintage watch, it needs to be far brighter at night."
With that, we embarked on prototype number two, which set us back almost another year. During this time, we saw that our friend, the brilliant Mohammed Abdulmagied Seddiqi, had also been inspired by the legendary 1949 reference 130 for his brand Vyntage, but again it was a mecha-quartz version.
Said Massena, “Look, when someone picks up this Uni-Racer, I want them to immediately feel the quality and attention to detail. Yes, it’s a bit fun and quirky to be inspired by a vintage reference 130, but we need to create a timepiece that feels perfect on the wrist, functions flawlessly and that has that sense of quality and permanence that will have you wearing it for decades!”
He added, “It would have been easy to make as many Uni-Racers as the market demanded, but I didn’t want that. I wanted each person who got one to feel it was a special watch. And maybe this is the most special of the editions we’ve made so far, as it’s the most far-reaching dial. That’s why I preferred to keep it limited to 120 pieces, so that owners know they have something rare.”
With that I give you our Massena LAB x Revolution Uni-Racer 1949, a Swiss-made mechanical chronograph in a limited edition of 120 pieces and priced at USD 3,750 each, excluding taxes.
Massena LAB x Revolution Uni-Racer 1949
Limited edition of 120 pieces
- Material: Stainless steel 316L
- Diameter: 39mm
- Thickness: 9.00 mm
- Glass: Anti-scratch treatment domed Plexi crystal with engraved logo by Kyburz Cie
- Stainless steel circular grained caseback with signature
- Water resistant to 50 meters
Dial and hands
- Black sector display
- Roman numerals with luminescent coating
- Blue hour and minute hand filled with Super-LumiNova
- White sub-dials and chronograph hand
- Manual winding Sellita SW510 M Elaboré
- Frequency: 28'800 vph (4 Hz)
- Power reserve of 58 hours
- Hours, minutes, seconds
- "Base 1000" tachymeter
Strap and buckle
- Deerskin strap with signature tang buckle in stainless-steel
MSRP: USD 3'750 (excl. taxes)
For more information, please visit revolutionwatch.com