Introducing Atelier Jalaper & A New Take On The Automotive Genre

There is large overlap between watch and automotive enthusiasts, and we’ve seen no shortage of products looking to hit both groups. When it comes to watches, this can mean anything from an auto brand’s logo placement on the dial, to more well considered designs that take inspiration from dashboards and body panels. The brand Atelier Jalaper falls into that last category, deriving inspiration from vintage Aston Martin and even incorporating materials from the bonnet straight from a DB5.

Atelier Jalaper is a Belgium based brand that launched a kickstarter for their watches in 2019. Their launch included 4 models within 2 families, each with a similar dial that included a few unique design features. The AJ001 models are time and date watches in steel (S) or black PVD (B), while the AJ002 models bring a day complication to the top of the dial. Each model features a section of dial cut from the bonnet of an Aston Martin DB5, a car you might recognize for its appearances in a variety of Bond films, from Goldfinger in 1964, to Skyfall in 2012. The DB5 was produced between 1963 and 1965 with around 1000 examples being made in total. How Atelier Jalaper was able to source an authentic bonnet is unclear, though the FAQ of their kickstart states: “Acquiring the parts was a long and difficult process as we wanted an original piece produced between 1961 and 1963.” This is especially odd given the DB4 was being produced in those date ranges, however, they claim each watch will be accompanied by a certificate proving authenticity as verified by Aston Martin.

The dial plate retains a raw, roughly brushed texture with two large cavities at top and bottom. The design of these negative spaces is meant to evoke the front grill of the Aston Martin, and is filled with a more structured grid pattern set at the diagonal. The pairing of these textures works well and offers a unique dimensionality to these watches. The Arabic numerals are restricted to the dial plate and only feature minute readings. Their execution is very close to what you’d find on a Smith’s dashboard mounted gauge (in total, Smith’s provided 8 of the gauges that appeared in the DB5). Likewise, the hands are styled after the needles within those gauges, and appear quite thin as a result. Legibility looks to be compromised as a result, but we have not seen one of these models in the flesh so we’ll reserve final judgement. 

Atelier Jalaper is using Miyota based automatic movements for these watches, the 8285 provides the day and date complications while the 821A pulls duty in the date only model. The case measures 40.5mm in diameter and features sculpted lug recess and a prominent plaque set into the case wall at 9 o’clock displaying the number of the production run (it’s not a pusher). The look does pull together successfully, even if a few concerns remain. These feel like a more delicate take on what we’ve seen from REC recently, and given the success of its Kickstarter campaign, raising €123,682 of its €120,000 goal, it seems the watch has found its niche. The time and date AJ001 is priced from €800 (~$950), and the day-date AJ002 is priced from €1,080 (~$1,275). More from Atelier Jalaper here.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent his professional life covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seiko to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.