Massena LAB Teams Up with Raúl Pagès Once Again for the Limited Edition “Absinthe”

Massena LAB has announced a new collaboration with independent watchmaker Raúl Pagès inspired by one of the most important Patek Philippe watches of the last century. The Absinthe, which serves as the direct follow-up to the pair’s massively successful 2022 release, the Magraph, brings together a proprietary hand-wound movement, a strikingly green dial (reminiscent of the infamous spirit for which the watch is named), and all the vintage charm we have come to expect from Massena LAB in one surprisingly affordable (and highly limited) package.

William Massena is one of those rare figures in the watch industry who everyone seems to know. He’s an outsized presence who seemingly manages to be everywhere at once and have a hand in every facet of the watch industry. Over the last few years though, his name has come to be associated primarily with Massena LAB, where he consistently produces some of the most talked about limited editions and collaborations on the market.

This latest release follows closely on the heels of a watch introduced last month. That watch — a collaboration between Massena LAB, Pagès, and Phillips Auction House in association with Bass & Russo — debuted the M690 movement used in the Absinthe and drew inspiration in its layout from the iconic (and record-setting) 1952 Patek Philippe ref. 2458 produced for J.B. Champion, Jr. 


That watch was one of only two Patek wrist watches to have been fitted with an Observatory-grade movement, and its unique dial layout makes perfect sense as a source of inspiration for Massena LAB, who have a habit of falling back on exceedingly rare or one-off Patek Philippe watches as sources of inspiration.

But where last month’s release echoed the layout of the Champion Observatory Patek, today’s release pulls far more directly, sharing not only a general layout but also the original model’s leaf hands and signature Calatrava marker shape. Overall, it is a much closer evocation of Champion’s watch — albeit brought fully into the 21st century thanks largely to its vibrant green, vertically brushed, ombré dial.

The Absinthe measures 38.5mm across and 10mm thick, with 20mm lugs. It comes on an Italian-made Saffiano leather strap fitted with a pin buckle and the watch itself sports a sapphire caseback through which to stare at the hand-finished Swiss caliber M690.

The M690 movement is a proprietary caliber developed by Raúl Pagès for Massena LAB and is an evolution of the M660 movement found in the Magraph. The hand-wound movement is wonderfully finished, with wide Côtes de Genève, plenty of beveling, and Pagès’ signature poinçon Pagès (here in the shape of a tortoise) hidden beneath the balance wheel and surrounded with perlage. The 4hz movement also boasts a 60-hour power reserve.

Also, it’s accurate. And if you want proof of that, collectors who purchase the Absinthe can, for $300, submit the watch for the Horological Society of New York’s Chronometer Certification Program, launched in 2021. Watches meeting HSNY’s standards have to endure 15 days of testing in several positions and temperatures while exceeding the demands of COSC and ISO 3159. While Pagès doesn’t produce the movement himself, the M690 is a handsome, well-finished caliber, and for many will be the real reason to own this watch.

The Absinthe is limited to 99 pieces and will, like the Magraph, cost $8,675 (or $8,975 with HSNY Chronometer Certification). Orders are open today and can be confirmed with a deposit of $2000 ($2300 if you opt for the certification). Watches will see delivery start in July 2024, with watches produced in batches of 5-7 until delivery is complete. Massena LAB

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A native New Englander now based in Philadelphia, Griffin has been a passionate watch enthusiast since the age of 13, when he was given a 1947 Hamilton Norman as a birthday gift by his godfather. Well over a decade later, Griffin continues to marvel and obsess about all things watches, while also cultivating lifelong love affairs with music, film, photography, cooking, and making.

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