Recently an increasing number of independent niche brands have been surfacing in the field of fine watchmaking. According to sceptics, the number is perhaps even too large, the market cannot sustain this many companies, and the new brands don’t always have viable, long-term concepts.
Producing niche products for a narrow customer segment has its challenges – customers may find independent brands too risky to purchase. In-house movements and self-production gives greater security for the brand, thus distributors, customers, collectors may consider these workshops a more reliable choice. Other factors are important too, such as the ability for renewal, reliability and a constantly high level of customer service.
We touched upon this subject recently with François Candolfi CEO of Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps. MCT grew from a micro-enterprise into a boutique manufacture, and thanks to Cage Holding’s capital they can ensure internal developments and long-term strategy. The workshop of Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps, located in the heart of the Neuchâtel region, has the ability to create watches with self-made movements or even very special “made to order” timepieces. Naturally the Sequential collection was also made for a niche audience, but the Main de Maître or the so-called Atelier Timepieces are true collectors’ items. Working with the artistic master engraver Sylvain Bettex (the Koi Carp) or the cooperation with the exclusive Hôtel Les Airelles in Courchevel to create two unique timepieces (the “Gentleman” and “Lady” for Les Airelles) were definitely important milestones on this route.
Many people consider fine watchmaking a form of applied art or industrial design, in the best possible meaning of these terms. However technical innovation or creative approach, and rethinking the portrayal of time can at times hinder functionality. Naturally this is not a problem if we consider an artistic genre, but a piece where we have to learn to read the time separately will have a more difficulty to find fans.
The aim of the Sequential One S100 model was to preserve this delicate balance, and that innovation and utility be present simultaneously in the timepiece. The watch made its debut in 2008 in Basel (the founder of the brand, Denis Giguet introduced it, who also participated in the development of Harry Winston Opus series, and who left the company in 2011). The watch proved to be interesting both for experts and buyers, but for a time it seemed that MCT would remain a mono-product brand.
After the investment of the new owner, MCT appeared at Baselworld in 2013 with a new collection, the Sequential One S110, and the Sequential Two in 2014. This January a limited series of Sequential Two watches joined the collection, with 9 watches in 3 colours (orange, turquoise, acid-green). Each hour is displayed by one of the four signature prism displays of the brand – the others are obscured by the central three-quarter ring bearing the company’s name. When the minute hand finishes a revolution, the ring rotates 90 degrees counter-clockwise, letting another prism display become visible. By this time, the triangle-profiled prism revolves under the ring showing the hour it is supposed to. The timepiece is 18K white gold but coated with black DLC. It’s a bit similar to the trendy concept of having a diamond ring with the gemstones hidden inside. Nevertheless the black coated gold has a special shine and very delicate surface.
2015 will bring new MCT pieces to light. At Baselworld, the manufacture is showcasing their new FREQUENTIAL collection. We’ll be right there when this happens, stay tuned!
Photo credits: Manufacture Contemporaine du Temps, Loupiosity.com.
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