While “Made in China” seems to be taboo these days, there are valid items that bear that moniker. Atelier Wen, for example, doesn’t hide from it when designing and promoting their luxury watches. In fact, they wear it as a badge of honor and allow Chinese culture to inform their designs.
Atelier Wen was born out of a collaboration by French and Chinese designers. They intended to redefine modern Chinese chic. Chinese horology goes back at least 1,000 years, providing plenty of history to mine in the design of the timepiece.
Most will tell you that Swiss-made is the way to go when selecting a watch, but what you may not know is that a number of “Swiss” watches are made by Chinese watchmakers in China. By applying some smoke and mirrors and other branding tricks, these companies aim to make you think one thing when really, it’s not 100% true.
As I said, Atelier Wen, doesn’t run from it or attempt such branding tricks. Instead, they’d rather embrace China’s vast history and culture and let it run through the design. By going straight to the manufacturer instead of using an “assembly team” in Switzerland, they are able to cut costs without sacrificing quality.
They are able to offer an affordable watch with sapphire crystal instead of glass and a top-of-the-line mechanical movement. The series includes Ji (“A blue shade of Yuan-dynasty potteries, similar to that of the sky after a storm”) that employs blue porcelain in its dial with a rich palette of different hues that change under various lighting.
Hao (“A white that is resplendent and without blemish”) opts for a lighter touch with jasmine white porcelain in its dial accented with blue elements all around. The subtle touch employed here doesn’t make it any less eye-catching when you want to make an impression.
The watch offers three strap options – blue calf, grey nubuck and blue salmon. Each strap comes hot-stamped with a Chinese proverb that translates to “to ride the wind and break the waves.” Each serves a different purpose but beautifully accompanies either Hao or Ji.
Atelier Wen is currently running a Kickstarter allowing you to be one of the early adopters of the newest embodiment of Chinese chic.