by Dana Li
I first discovered Atelier Wen earlier this year when the brand announced its Perception collection. Naturally, seeing all the gorgeous macro shots of the hand-crafted guilloché dial and hearing that the watch was priced under $3,000 piqued my interest; however, what struck me most was the brand’s focus on showcasing the best of Chinese craftsmanship and watchmaking.
As someone who is Chinese, it’s amazing to see a brand highlighting some of the traditional handicrafts that originated in China. With the emphasis on the economical production of goods in the last few decades, “made in China” ends up having an almost negative connotation, typically signifying a cheaply manufactured product. As a result, aspects of Chinese craftsmanship that have existed for thousands of years and have been passed through generations are often under-appreciated and rarely recognized. Atelier Wen’s conscious choice to bring these art forms to the forefront of the watchmaking world is showcasing the potential of what “made in China” can truly represent.
Get to Know the Brand
Atelier Wen was founded by Robin Tallendier and Wilfried Buiron, who both met while studying abroad together in 2016 and were looking to reinvent Chinese horology. In 2018, the brand debuted the Porcelain Odyssey series, a collection made up of two watches with immaculate porcelain dials named the “Hao” and “Ji”. For a watch under $1,000, the quality and attention to detail is nothing short of stunning.
Source: Atelier Wen (left - "Hao", right - "Ji" from the Porcelain Odyssey series)
For its second collection released in the spring of this year, Atelier Wen worked with Master Cheng, the sole master guilloché craftsman in China to create the ornate dials on the Perception. The 40mm stainless steel watch comes in 3 different colors: a bright copper, cool grey, and an iridescent blue. The semi-open case back also features a nod to a traditional Chinese architecture motif, the stone guardian lions commonly found at the entrances of temples and older buildings.
Through its collaborations with skilled artisans, Atelier Wen is establishing itself as a force among independent watch brands with a clear design ethos and mission. The brand is in an ideal position to reinvent and modernize Chinese horology and I’m excited to see what’s to come.