The latest creation from Massena LAB, which launched last week and quickly sold out, is a collaboration with independent watchmaker Luca Soprano, and is something of a tribute to watchmaking itself. The watch, dubbed “Old School,” is not a reference to classic video games or an invitation to go streaking, but a tribute to the concept of the montre d’école, or “school watch.” A school watch is a timepiece that’s designed and made by an apprentice watchmaker and later evaluated by a master watchmaker. It’s akin to a final project undertaken by the most talented apprentices, and can take a full year to complete. A particularly high value is placed on movement finishing in a montre d’école, so as you’d expect, the Old School is decorated to the nines.
This watch is finished and constructed in a way that’s reminiscent of classic German watchmaking. This can most readily be seen in the straight grain finishing on the movement plates along with the use of gold chatons. The three-quarter plate employed here (made of German silver) is also strongly associated with the finest German watches. The movement features flourishes like a blued steel balance spring, swan neck regulating system, and a bi-matallic balance wheel.
The dial is a design by William Massena himself, and was inspired by 18th century marine chronometers, and features a sector layout that he’s also played with in previous Massena LAB creations, such as his release with Habring a few years ago. According to Massena LAB, the dial is made entirely by hand (again, from German silver), and plated in rhodium. The frosted finishing and gold plating at the dial’s center is also hand applied. Other components of the watch that are handmade include the crown and hands, which are heat blued in a traditional fashion (that is to say, by hand). Can you sense a theme emerging? There’s a lot of handwork happening here.
The case is stainless steel and measures 41.5mm in diameter and 11mm tall (including the sapphire crystal). The strap is a custom alligator design by Jean Rousseau Paris, and for such a finely made watch the whole package appears surprisingly wearable. There’s nothing fussy about the dial or case finishing, it’s quite legible, and it’s notably not made from a precious metal. All of the action is truly seen through the caseback. This is very much an insider’s watch, and will likely be most appreciated by collectors who are well versed in the complex finishing techniques that Luca Soprana has used.
As mentioned up top, this edition is sold out, but the original retail price was $39,500. Not inexpensive by any means, but in an edition of 11, and with so much handwork, it’s possible to justify the high cost. Massena LAB