Maison Alcée is a French brand based in Reims, founded by Alcée Montfort in 2019. She launched her unique luxury DIY clockmaking experience after three years of development, which earned her the Audacity Prize prize at the GPHG.
Similarly to other GPHG Academy members, I took the chance to check out the nominated watches again before the awards ceremony at the Musée Rath in Geneva. I’ve already seen most of them but the Maison Alcée clock pre-selected in the Mechanical Clock category was a new discovery for me. At the first sight you may not get the idea, because what Alcée Montfort offers is not primarily a table clock but an experience to build one. She gives all the ingredients, except your dedication which is expected for having the piece finally ticking on your furniture. The box, a finely crafted solid wood watchmaker’s case includes all the components, tools and a very nice book, which is not only a manual but offers interesting reads about watchmaking history and know-how.
Alcée and I were able to finally catch up last week after we missed each other at the many events in November. A lot has been happening around her: with her Persée clock she won the Audacity Prize at GPHG, the Persée Nuit clock was selected as one of the 20 semi-finalists for the Louis Vuitton Watch Prize by the Fabrique du Temps, and she just came back from the Dubai Watch Week.
Crafting many things by her own hands using her creativity together with her mother were among her most cherished childhood memories, she explains. ‘Although I continued the family tradition and became an engineer (even specialised in fundamental physics), the desire to create and the love for aesthetics have never left me.’
She had the chance to work with great brands like Hermès, Cartier or Tag Heuer in different fields, before embarking on a more personal journey by founding Maison Alcée.
She surrounded herself with experts, like Thierry Ducret, a ‘Meilleur Ouvrier de France’ watchmaker who provides input on luxury craftsmanship, Jean-Marie Desgrange watchmaking professor and Antoine Tschumi timepiece designer. Her co-founder and forever supporter is her husband, Benoit Montfort.
After years of brainstorming, testing, trialing and fixing the young Maison presented Persée, the first luxury desk clock to assemble at home. ‘It offers you a unique chance to make the clock yourself. It is an experience to share and a legacy to pass on. The toughest part was to design a mechanism that offers a personal challenge to assemble, while keeping it achievable for everyone with persistence’, she added. The same concept in a wristwatch size might not be feasible, but in the dimensions of a table clock it works.
There is one model currently, the Persée clock, which comes in three versions: the Persée Azur with blue details, the Persée Nuit in black and the Persée Douce with light pink accents. All can bear your initials on the plate, making the creation even more personal.
The boxed set includes 233 components (only the regulating organ is pre-assembled) and 17 watchmaking tools, such as a clockmaker’s magnifying glass, tweezers, four screwdrivers, finger cots, a membrane case, a chamois cloth, a small oiler, and more. Some of these tools have been specially adapted to facilitate their use by neophytes. The assembly instructions are explained in a 150-page book and if you need there are videos about the process. If further assistance is required, the Maison Alcée team is standing by in a dedicated WhatsApp group. Most of her clients have nothing to do with the watchmaking profession itself – they are collectors, CEOs, business people, but to my question Alcée confirmed that everybody had a success with the clock assembly so far.
The promise of Maison Alcée is to find the joy and pride of creating something by your hands. Time and dedication lets one come closer to capturing a craftsman’s skills and enjoy a final working object as a reward.
Alcée Montfort would like for Maison Alcée to become the French reference in luxury DIY. She plans to develop experiences for other artistic craftsmanships, such as silk work.
‘We have to overcome the idea of certain know-how being inaccessible. Only when we bring this expertise out of the shadows, can we infuse the profession with new energies, enabling a wider audience to see it in a new light’, Alcée noted. Indeed, enabling people to try something out and get them create something by their own hands is a great way to raise appreciation and respect to traditional artisanship.
Photo credits: Maison Alcée
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