It’s been three and a half years since I reviewed Atelier Wen’s first watch, the Ji. Without revisiting in detail, my lingering thoughts are that the Ji’s porcelain dial was very special, but that the case perhaps didn’t exhibit quite the same level of elegance. It’s clear that Atelier Wen have once again strived for the spectacular with the guilloché dial of the Perception, but does the rest of the watch create a suitable home? Let’s find out.
It would be unfair to say that the Atelier Wen Perception is all about the dial, but it’s certainly a significant part. Here, the guilloché isn’t stamped or CNC machined, but rose engine turned by China’s sole guilloché Master Craftsman, Master Cheng. After handling a Russian tobacco box, decorated with guilloché and finished with blue enamel, Master Cheng fell in love with guilloché and decided to build his own rose engine and learn the craft. Several completed, but ultimately useless, rose engines in his first couple of years of self-learning wasn’t enough to deter him. In 2018, four years after giving up his job and moving away from the bustling city, Master Cheng competed his first working rose engine. Today, he has now completed four working rose or straight-line engines, has four apprentices working under him in his cave-based atelier, and has produced guilloché dials for major Swiss brands (though his work is sourced and provided by middlemen, so you’ll never find his name associated with the finished product).