It has been just over a month since our last update, and what a crazy month-and-a-bit it has been. As far as our yearly events schedule is concerned, October 2023 has somehow shaped up to be the most frantic portion of the year, with five community events, three fair participations, and the launch of one very special new collaboration!
But as exhausted as Robin has been zipping all around the world, the fulfilment that comes with getting to meet everyone in-person and connecting with new fans and friends of the brand is something that we constantly look forward to. The community is undoubtedly at the very centre of what we do, and this is something that will not change even as Atelier Wen continues to grow!
The big one — Perception 粲 (Càn) with Revolution Watch
Most of you would probably be aware by now that on the 18th of October, Revolution Watch announced — to a great deal of excitement — the launch of our second collaborative release with the legendary Wei Koh and his team!
The elegant champagne tones of Càn follow on the back of Xǐ's striking crimson dial, with yet another unique guilloché pattern — this time in a radiant flinqué or sunburst. Despite being a somewhat more traditional pattern than its predecessor, the guilloché of Càn's dial is far less straight-forward than it might appear. An all but absolute regularity is required between each of its 24 segments in order to achieve the tunnel effect that is created in their convergence, and any deviation or inconsistency invariably fractures the illusion into an incoherent mess.
Furthermore, the intentional amplification of depth within each of the 24 segments to further exaggerate this effect also meant that Master Cheng had to work with angles that were far narrower than he was used to, significantly increasing the rejection rates. Yet what he was consequently able to achieve through these parameters was well worth it, with a resplendent dial befitting of its name which translates to “brightness" or "splendour"
While Càn comes in largely the same grade 5 titanium configuration as Xǐ, it packs one significant inclusion that is a sign of things to come on all Perception models going forward. This comes in the form of a series of shiny new chamfers on each of its bracelet links that have each been painstakingly hand-polished. With each individual facet of our bracelet experiencing this new treatment, the sum total, per bracelet, is 288 individual bevels that have been buffed to a mirror-finish. In the case of Càn, this is an achievement in itself, considering the difficulty of achieving this on titanium — which is a material notoriously difficult to finish due to its hardness. But the final effect is one that justifies this additional effort entirely, with the already-refined bracelet newly-given a scintillating tool with which to play with the ambient light.
Given that the previous Revolution collaboration, Xǐ, sold out within 10 minutes of launch, Càn was always going to find it hard to live up to this precedent. But live up it did, and more — flying off the shelf in under 2 minutes to completely outstrip Xǐ entirely, and taking us all by surprise in the process. We are utterly humbled by the immense support from all of you, and we will absolutely continue to put in the work to bring the very best of Chinese watchmaking in each subsequent edition that we roll out.
And last but most of all, it has been both an immense pleasure and honour to work with the Revolution team throughout the two releases. We are eternally grateful to Wei for believing in our story, as well as to the entire team putting in the work behind him to make this a reality, including Maria, Constant, David, Shazlina, Roy and everyone else!
Fair's fair when they come in threes
It is probably safe to say that watch fairs are always a blast. As a brand, they are naturally great for visibility when foot traffic abounds, and highly qualified crowds are likely to turn up. However, far more than these, the fairs are the perfect opportunity to meet and mingle with friends, enthusiasts and fellow brand owner, or just hang out with you guys; the people we hold so dear within our community and the watch family at-large!
Our trio of fair involvements in October began on the 12th, with Robin's attendance at We Love Watches in his familiar Parisian haunts. A brand new initiative, the fair was the brainchild of Parisian retailer Ocarat, and saw 48 different brands show up in what proved to be a rather hot and stuffy watch-filled afternoon in central Paris! But the heat was bearable largely thanks to the fact that so many of you turned up in droves — to stop by and say hello at our booth! For such a novel exhibition, the turnout was exceptional, and in Robin's own words, he barely got the chance to sit down throughout the day of the exhibition, and was fairly exhausted by the time the event came to a close.
For a country with such venerable watchmaking pedigree, France offered precious little by way of a unifying event for watch lovers — especially of the independent variety. It was perhaps for this very reason that the event turnout was as torrential as it was, and it is truly heartening to see the newfangled desire to provide new and varied platforms that keep the industry buzzing with excitement!
Fast-forward a week beyond Paris, and it was time for the as-yet unofficial extravaganza that is Singapore "Watch Week". This began for us at Singapore Watch Fair, held this time in the swanky new environs of Equarius hotel's ballroom in Resorts World Sentosa.
Our participation here was not in an exhibitive capacity, but rather, with our presence on a panel discussing the Rise of Chinese Watchmaking. It was undeniably wonderful to rub shoulders with some of the very finest in the industry, and chief of these was Mr Tan Zehua, our fellow-panellist and an exceptional watchmaker of AHCI pedigree. The discussion-proper was as eye-opening as it was revelatory, covering topics ranging from the evolution of Chinese watchmaking in the modern age, the capacity for high-end watchmaking in China and the state of independent watchmaking in the country. We also traded opinions on our respective outlooks on the industry in China and how things could grow in the coming years — and left with immense respect for each others' ambitions as well as significant hope for what the future holds. A big thank you goes, of course, to Nelson and Ali; the co-founders of Singapore Watch Fair, for their invitation to be a part of the fair's proceedings.
Swiftly following on the back of Singapore Watch Fair were three action-packed days, as we returned to Spring Sprang Sprung from 20th to 22nd October. We have only great things to say about the dynamic duo behind the fair, Yong Keong and Sugiharto — the latter of which has been an exceptional supporter of the brand from our very earliest days! Together, they have masterminded an extraordinary degree of engagement with the independent and microbrand community in Singapore, and it was fantastic seeing the unexaggeratedly overwhelming response to their efforts.
With over 2000 visitors over the course of the three days, the relatively small exhibition area was swarmed-over with watch lovers throughout the fair's duration, and even with our superfan-prime, Justin Lam, showing up to lend us a hand, the four of us were well-exhausted in the best way possible by the end of the 22nd. Needless to say, Spring Sprang Sprung has been a wonderful home for us since its incipience last year, and it will remain an undeniable highlight of our events calendar, year-on-year.
Get-togethers galore: A bash in Bangkok, congregations in Canada and a dalliance in Delhi
And where was he bound? Well, back to Paris first, for a quick stopover and a momentary breath, before being whisked off to Toronto, Canada, to connect in-person for the very first time with an amazing long-time friend of the brand, Daniel Wang (perhaps better known as @wongerbonger on Instagram). Two sessions were scheduled for Robin's first-ever encounter with Toronto's autumn chill. The first was an evening hangout with the good folks from Redbar Toronto that saw about forty people show up to mingle casually in a pub and talk watches, touting some pretty sleek wrist-candy while they were at it. We saw some Mings, a couple of Breguets, and even a Credor — as well as a few Perceptions show up to meet Robin! For many, though, it was their first time experiencing all three Perception variants firsthand, and quite a few of these were excited by what they saw. All-in-all, it was a really wonderful evening in brilliant and very much learned company, and we willll definitely be back to explore more of Canada in the years to come!
The second event was meant to be a more intimate affair, with the initial expectation that approximately 10-15 people would turn up for nachos and drinks. Robin was in for a bit of a bigger surprise, however, as nearly 30 showed up to meet him, with the initial space we had set aside within the bar/bistro venue proving inadequate! Some of you even drove 4-5 hours to show up for the event (shout out to Yeo for the dedication), and it still beggars our belief how wonderfully supportive the global Atelier Wen family is. Our events have thus far been largely confined to Asia and Europe, where our team members are based, but if the sessions in Canada were anything to go by, it is very much about time we increased our event heat-map on the North American continent!
Not that Robin had any real time to digest these conclusions, though, as he was pretty much immediately jet-setting once more just four days after his arrival in — barely squeezing time in for a little excursion to Niagara lake with Daniel before he was off.
This time, it was destination Delhi, where he was due to attend the annual gala of Watch Enthusiasts India (WEI); the largest collector community on the Indian subcontinent — some 6000 members strong, and a striking example of how mobilised and passionate an enthusiast community can be! This was far from our first engagement with WEI, with Ignatius, our content manager, having flown up to join them in Ho Chi Minh back in September for another of their many yearly events.
With regular get-togethers held across India's many cities every month, and 2-3 group-trips around the world per annum, they are by far the most travelled collector community that we have encountered so far. This is all the more impressive, bearing in mind the sparseness with which their members are spread out across the country's vast landmass, and the gala was a fitting representation of this. With a ballroom at one of Delhi's swankiest destinations, the Taj Mahal Hotel, being booked out for a capacity crowd of nearly 120 people, an overflowing liquor-booth, some delicious canapés and a sequence of panels and quizzes were but a fraction of the unfolding events that evening.
The attendees were bursting with excitement at meeting up with old friends and new, and of course, seeing the many watches that were brought along on show. And with these festivities in mind, it was no wonder that they had attracted the recurring sponsorships involved in its hosting, with Oris and Ethos, India's largest luxury watch retailer, sharing the title of co-benefactors of the event. It was therefore quite encouraging that Perception received quite a bit of attention, even as a guest in-attendance at the gala, and we are extremely excited at the prospect of seeing it on more wrists throughout the Indian collector community in the coming months!
On this note, the day after WEI's gala saw them host us for our own private event as well as shoot some video content for the local audience with the founder of the group, Karan Madan. And true to form, the venue that they booked out more than lived up to the standards they had set before, with yet another extravagant hotel restaurant setting with food, wine, and merry, merry company. With Perception being front-and-centre this time, it was a great opportunity for this largely-brand-new audience to grill our team on the series, as well as draw out some additional information about what we have in-store in the coming months!
For the newly-crowned most-populous country in the world, India feels like a greatly overlooked market for independent watches. The variety of brands carried are largely limited to bigger Swiss names, or on the other end of the spectrum, to smaller local players, with little in-between. Yet, it seems that while the current majority of collectors there are still somewhat brand-conscious, there is a burgeoning, un-ignorable minority that is increasingly hungry for up-and-coming, younger independents. WEI is at the forefront of this charge, and their interest in our brand is one that we are filled with hope by, opening up the door for us to connect with a whole new variety of watch lovers.
A very big thank you has to go to Karan, Abhishek and Anirban for their tireless efforts in helping us to set this up and the hospitality we were shown in Delhi, as well as to Jitender for the introductions from before. We are immensely excited for the possibilities that this relationship holds, and we definitely look forward to more engagements with the Indian collector communities.
A Swiss soirée with Robin
We hope to see you there!
Four becomes five!
We are therefore delighted to announce the fifth member of the Atelier Wen team, Naya, who joins us as our new Growth Manager! A driven marketing professional with years of experience in e-commerce and tech companies in Singapore, she comes from an extensive background in performance marketing, CRM, influencer collaborations and brand management. With substantial creativity and a strategic perspective at her disposal, she adds diversity and a complementary skillset to our team. We are thrilled to have her onboard, and look forward to scaling new heights alongside her!
The immediate pipeline
We will have more for you really, really soon, so please do join us in our WhatsApp where we might just let slip the occasional hint at what comes next!
The Team @ Atelier Wen