Independent watchmaking has never been hotter – and what a time it is to see so many flourish! Amongst watch enthusiasts, there is a certain “je ne sais quoi” about independent watchmaking and why enthusiasts love it so – it could be that the creator’s vision for their watch is purely their own, that labour and skill is more easily visualised because the team is so front-and-centre, or where their background influences the creation of the watch. Whatever it may be, to understand independent watchmaking is to delve into the machinations of the mind of the creators and to understand their worldview of horology. Sylvain Pinaud is one such watchmaker who’s watches are a reflection of the man himself, and in collaboration with Massena Lab, has created a new version of the Chronograph Monopoussoir, a watch lauded for its technicality, in more classical guise.
Sylvain Pinaud is a name in independent watchmaking that people should be following very closely. French by birth, he attended watchmaking school in Morteau, and after a brief sabbatical travelling South-East Asia, he landed himself a role at Franck Muller where he would rotate between workshops for complications, before landing in a position in after-sales service. He would later find himself working for Carl F. Bucherer, developing prototypes of new complications, before striking it out on his own. Before his time at Carl F. Bucherer, he worked for a clock restorer that was connected to THA (Techniques Horlogeres Appliquees) – the very same THA with Vianney Halter as one of the key founders. Through Pinaud’s excellent work producing exceptional timepieces, Vianney Halter recommended him to join the AHCI (Academie Horlogere des Createurs Independants), where Pinaud is now a candidate for membership.
Pinaud’s achievements in watchmaking should be more than enough to qualify him for membership into the AHCI – in 2022, he would win the Horological Revelation prize at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie Geneve (GPHG) for his Origine watch, and in 2019 would be the Laureate of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France (MOF) for the original version of the Chronograph Monopoussoir. For context, the MOF celebrates the best craftspeople in different categories, most famously for culinary skills (think of the prodigious chefs like Joel Robouchon and Paul Bocuse), but encompasses other categories such as precision techniques, which watchmaking comes under. With all of these achievements, it’s no wonder this up-and-coming watchmaker caught the eye of William Massena of Massena Lab – what originally meant to be a personal commission, has garnered enough attention to be turned into a 10 piece limited edition run.
The Massena Lab version of the Chronograph Monopoussoir is styled to be more classical in its appearance whilst still retaining some of the characteristics that made this watch unique. Classical style meant a more conventional case design with a round shape, with lugs (in comparison to the original Chronograph Monopoussoir that featured a more futuristic style with hidden lugs).
However, the character of the original watch is preserved, with a sapphire crystal caseband that enables viewing of the movement’s three-dimensional architecture. Measuring in at 42mm in diameter and 11mm thick, the rest of the watch is crafted from titanium, and also features a sapphire crystal caseback giving a great view of the frosted bridges and the slow beating balance wheel oscillating at 18,000 vibrations per hour.
On the dial side, the watch features the hours and minutes at 12 o’clock, running seconds at 8 o’clock, and a 45 minute counter for the chronograph at 4 o’clock, taking inspiration from vintage marine chronometers. The dial in particular is made by Comblemine, the dial factory of none other than Kari Voutilainen. The lower half of the dial is made to exhibit the amazing steel levers of the chronograph that have been expertly straight-grained and bevelled, as well as the countersunk jewels. Hands associated with timekeeping are kept in the natural colour of steel, whereas indications associated with the chronograph have blued hands so that they are easily distinguished.
Movement-wise, as the name suggests, is the column wheel controlled monopusher chronograph movement that gave Sylvain Pinaud his fame, beating at 2.5Hz, with a 45 hour power reserve, and a chronograph actuated by the pusher set into the crown. All of the haute horlogerie finishes can be observed from all angles, including sharp internal angles for all chamfers, straight graining of all steel parts, and countersunk jewel slots. The watch is delivered on an aged calf leather strap that has been specially made for Massena Lab by Jean Rousseau.
Sylvain Pinaud has only been on the scene as an independent watchmaker for a short time of four years, but he has managed to win two prestigious awards for his craft, and is on his way to being the one to watch in the coming years. It seemed like fate that William Massena and Massena Lab spotted his craft – but like we mentioned earlier, independent watchmaking is labour intensive, with this piece limited to three pieces per year by production and limited to ten in total. Through this version of the Chronograph Monopoussoir, we at ISOCHRONO believe that his appeal has only widened, bringing a greater audience to his works that will hopefully inspire more unbridled creativity from him in the years to come.
Chronograph Monopoussoir Sylvain Pinaud x Massena LAB
Movement: Manual-winding, single pusher column-wheel chronograph with horizontal clutch. 18,000 half oscillations per hour (2.5 Hz).
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, monopusher chronograph with 45-minute counter.
Case: Titanium. Polished bezel with grained lugs for visual contrast. Sapphire crystal window panels on the sides of its titanium case, allow for the dial to be viewed from additional angles.
Dial: A fusion of modern design with vintage aesthetics inspired by marine chronometers. Hand-finished chronograph mechanism is left exposed and can be admired by the wearer.
Crystal: Sapphire crystal. Exhibition caseback also in sapphire crystal.
Bracelet: Aged calfskin, made in France by Jean Rousseau Paris for Massena LAB.