Last month, Atelier de Chronometrie, the Spanish independent brand led by one time vintage watch dealer Santiago Martinez, began teasing something that could only be described as unexpected: a new movement. Atelier de Chronometrie had, in a very short period of time, built a name for themselves almost entirely on the basis of expertly restoring and luxuriously finishing classic vintage movements, and using them in thoughtfully designed watches inspired primarily by timepieces of the 1930s and 40s. The brand offers a high level of customization, with clients able to dial in little details as they see fit, effectively making each watch coming out of the atelier a piece unique, or very close to it. This was a niche that didn’t really exist before Atelier de Chronometrie, at least at the very high end, and they’ve absolutely owned it. Now, with the release of the AdC22 less than a month after that initial social media tease, a new caliber bearing the brand’s name has opened up all kinds of new possibilities for Atelier de Chronometrie’s future.
The new movement, dubbed the M284 and described as “in-house” by the brand, was developed in partnership with independent watchmaker Luca Soprana. The caliber has been designed to resemble classic hand wound calibers from the 1940s, both in appearance and function. The construction, featuring small bridges for the going train, a large plate with hand applied côtes de Genève, and an exposed balance beating at a vintage appropriate 18,000 bph, evokes the most renowned Swiss calibers from the glory of days Genève Observatoire trials made by Audemars Piguet, Omega, and others.
But what really sets the M284 apart is the elaborate finishing. The caliber is replete with anglage, straight graining, and black polished surfaces, as well as more elaborate touches like polished countersinks and beveled screws. There appears to be a significant amount of handwork and attention to detail here, which is to be expected from Atelier de Chronometrie, but is all the more impressive in a new caliber built from the ground up to resemble something from the past. That said, there are concessions to modernity in the M284. Notably, the bridges are made from ARCAP, an alloy that contains no iron, and is thus completely amagnetic.
While the movement is the obvious star of the show with this release, the dial and case are not exactly letting it down. This is a relatively straightforward two-tone salmon dial that is right in step with Atelier de Chronometrie’s fixation on that prewar aesthetic. A silvered interior hour right is home to a series of applied, circular markers at each hour, with a black minute track at the dial’s outer perimeter. The case is stainless steel, and measures 37.5mm in diameter and in a classic Calatrava style format. It’s an attractive package in my opinion, and a great example of a (very) heightened vintage inspired design done in a way that feels authentic.
The retail price for the AdC22 is EUR 60,000. That’s steep by any measure for a time only watch, but the level of finishing on Atelier de Chronometrie pieces is labor intensive, and you can imagine the costs of developing the new movement were not cheap. More information at the brand’s website, here.