“I just want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.” — Saul Bass
Alfred trained professionally as an automotive designer at Coventry University, before turning to watch design upon returning to Hong Kong after graduating. His work is characterised by an inescapable interest in finer details and beautiful proportions.
As a designer with just over a decade of experience, Alfred has gained a strong understanding of the industry, from design to story-telling and even manufacturing. He began as a designer for an OEM watch factory before moving on to a Swiss design agency specialised in timepieces. He has spent the past several years as the in-house designer of a globally recognised watch brand.
Alfred’s contribution to our brand has been immeasurable, helping to conceptualise our sophomore release in Perception, as well as aiding in the development of the next slew of watches in the pipeline. It has been, and continues to be, our honour to work with a man of his talents as we bring our watches to you.
A horological celebration of
Breaking new ground, revelling in tradition
Our identity is embodied in our name, Atelier Wen. Translating directly to “culture workshop”, it combines the
French word for workshop, Atelier, and the Chinese word for culture, 文 (Wén) . Ours is a project that unites
French and Chinese creatives on a mission to re-define the meaning of modern Chinese style—and to display it
in novel forms that speak to all who appreciate objects of beauty and meaning.
The feats of Chinese watchmaking and artisanship often go unnoticed in a world preoccupied with European luxury. Yet the country’s roots in the field of horology extend deeply, and its array of traditional crafts abound in both variety and intricacy.
Atelier Wen seeks to bring Chinese watchmaking out of the shadows and to the very forefront of an industry already reliant on its manufacturing capabilities. In creating some of the best watches originating from the Middle Kingdom, we endeavour to reimagine, showcase and celebrate China’s extensive culture and craftsmanship with the rest of the world.
A commitment to culture, and to perfection
Here at Atelier Wen, we have made it our mission to celebrate and elevate the global perception of Chinese
culture and craftsmanship, and high-quality watchmaking has been in our DNA since our brand’s incipience.
Through our partnerships with some of the finest artisans in all of China and our refusal to compromise on
quality, we push the boundaries of what a modern identity of Chinese style might look like — and of what
Chinese watchmaking could be.
Our pieces combine exceptional materials with the expertise of China’s leading watchmakers and artisans in technical watch manufacturing and traditional crafts, respectively. Through them, we seek to shine a spotlight on one of the world’s leading watchmaking domains, and a nation that can well be described as an ancient cultural capital of the world.
Drawn from the breadth ofChinese heritage
The watches we produce contain the unmistakeable cues found within Chinese cultural traditions. They extend
back into the centuries, from the grandest of architectures to the smallest of emblems, from well-established
crafts to historical anecdotes, and continue on to this day, in the present landscape of modern China. These
priceless hallmarks provide us with infinite inspiration, and a malleable essence that we seek to carry on
into the future as we re-envision the meaning of a contemporary Chinese aesthetic, in-keeping with tradition.
In doing so, Atelier Wen aligns itself with the country’s rich past whilst seeking to shape the style of its future, breathing new life into forgotten crafts, and inspiring a new generation of undeniably Chinese artistry.
The Founders:A French duo, steeped in Chinese culture
Atelier Wen is the brainchild of two close friends from France, who were brought together by their shared
passions for Chinese culture, watches and a desire to create novel, innovative projects:
Robin began his horological journey at age 14, and has previously worked for the French Chamber of Watchmaking in Shanghai and at Christie’s in London. In his early collecting years, he began purchasing Chinese mechanical timepieces on trips to Shanghai with his parents. Since then, he has built up an extensive portfolio of both historical and independent Chinese watches. In March 2016, he was appointed advisor and “Execution Expert” in the 中国钟表协会 (China Horologe Association), a Chinese national-level government organization that oversees and promotes the watch industry in China. He is a graduate of the University of Warwick, Peking University and London Business School.
Born in Hong Kong, Wilfried is a graduate from China's top two institutes of higher education - Peking University and Tsinghua University. A tireless entrepreneur at heart, he has experience in numerous startups and possesses a perfect command of Mandarin. Possessing a deep attachment and fondness to Chinese culture and craft, Wilfried has coordinated both our design and manufacturing from Beijing since the very beginning. Outside of Atelier Wen, he is the founder and CEO of Zaapi, a start-up building digital commerce infrastructure for Southeast Asian MSNEs.
Together, they form the yin and yang of our atelier — Robin being the creative visionary, and Wilfried the executional extraordinaire — and combine in a perfect storm prepared to fly the flag of Chinese horology into the future.
The journey thus far
The pair grew close back in 2016 whilst studying in Beijing, and upon their return to Europe, grew
disillusioned with the often dismissive reception towards Chinese horology by their peers. Their shared
passion towards the nation’s culture and its watchmaking industry’s potential fed their resolve to change
this, and they founded Atelier Wen in 2018 with the initial goal of creating a “high quality timepiece” with a
Most of the planning and development for Atelier Wen’s debut release was done in 2017, working with designers Li Ming Liang and Liu Yu Guan throughout the next year and a half to conceive the foundation that would become the Porcelain Odyssey. The campaign launched on Kickstarter in October 2018 to much fanfare, meeting its funding goal in under 30 minutes for our two initial models, 皓 (Hao) and 霁 (Ji). Once the first series had sold out, a long hiatus ensued with several tough but valuable lessons learnt along the way. Development on the second line resumed in 2020, and ambitious as ever, Robin and Wilfried made the decision to raise the stakes, with a clearer idea of how to achieve their lofty aim of creating the very best Chinese watches. They vowed to make less compromises than ever before, seeking to pushing the limits of what could be achieved in Chinese watchmaking, and committing without reservations to the most exciting means of getting there. The first step towards this new goal would finally see the light of day with an initial pre-order for Perception going live on the 18th of April 2022. The initial batch sold out in 16 hours, and the brand has not looked back since, growing from strength to strength as we prepare to move ever-upward in pursuit of fine watchmaking. We can confidently say that Perception is only the beginning.
The ones who make it happen
Key to our quest - to preserve such Chinese traditions and attain the horological recognition that the country deserves - are the people whom we wish to celebrate for their part in this dream. From designers to artisans, from manufacturers to our collaborators and retailers, they are the bastions of Chinese culture and quality going into the future, and we hold no illusions that this is as much their project as it is ours.
Alfred Ka Kit Chan
“I just want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.” — Saul Bass
Born and raised in Shanghai, China, Austen has loved watches since his kindergarten days. Driven by an
overwhelming sense of loneliness in the watch space, he founded his immensely popular handle, @horoloupe,
on Instagram in 2016, eager to build a greater sense of community.
In 2019, he became the first collector ever to collaborate with Audemars Piguet for a commercial release, and co-founded Wristcheck, a revolutionary secondary watch retailing platform based in Hong Kong, back in 2020.
His efforts have since been recognised in the industry: he was invited to be the youngest jury member of the 2021 GPHG Awards, and appointed a committee member of the Swiss Institute.
An early believer in our brand, Austen reached out to initiate our very first Perception special edition, 传承 (Chuán Chéng) that was unveiled in November 2022. We take great pride in this collaboration with someone who is an undeniably prominent member of the watch world, and the deep resonance and intent that we share with him on our quest to change the industry’s perception of Chinese watchmaking is something that imbues this partnership with even greater meaning.
Quite central to the fanfare that has greeted our Perception line is the exquisite work of one man:
China’s sole master guillochéur, Cheng Yu Cai. Born and raised in humble
environments, Cheng worked his way up to a comfortable job in Beijing at a precision manufacturing
factory, overcoming the odds as an under-educated individual from a rural township. However, where any
similar individual would have settled for this lot in life, Cheng did the unimaginable in 2014. Stumbling
across the curious, precarious quantity that is inspiration, Cheng quit his job with the sole aim of
recreating the hypnotically-wavy radial guilloché that his friend had
shown him on an antique Russian cigarette box.
9 years of pouring his life-savings into R&D, and 7 rose-engines of his own arduous design later, he stands proud as the only Chinese craftsman to achieve mastery of this intricate and rare métier d’art. It is his goal to one day have his craft mentioned in the same breath as masters such as Kari Voutilainen.
Cheng’s work has been commissioned priorly by Swiss watchmakers, though he has never received the acknowledgement that he deserves, and Perception is the very first time that Cheng’s work has featured in a timepiece of Chinese origin. The honouring of Chinese craftsmanship that has long gone uncelebrated, like that of Cheng Yu Cai, is precisely what Atelier Wen stands for, and is a mission that will always form the crux and foundational pillar of our brand.
First obtaining a bachelors in engineering in Tongji University, Shanghai, Jianxiong went on to graduate
with a master’s in Luxury and Craftsmanship Design from Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL),
Switzerland, back in 2017. Carrying his passion and flair for design on with him, he now lives and works
as a fashion accessory designer in Shanghai, China, working on packaging, bag design and conceptualisation
for watch dials.
As the designer behind all of the packaging that Perception arrives in, Jianxiong’s creative input has been invaluable in helping us create the thoughtful, luxurious unboxing experience that our watches deserve, whilst still allowing the box to serve our collectors functionally as a table organiser beyond the initial display of the watch. Needless to say, we are immensely grateful for his contributions, and look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with him on our future projects!
Sugiharto Kusumadi (or Sugi, as we know him) is, first and foremost, a passionate (and perhaps a little
mad) lover of watches. He is perhaps best known as the founder of Red Army Watches — a retailer of micro
and independent watch brands in Singapore since 2004, with a regional presence in Brunei, Indonesia and
Malaysia. His concept at Red Army aims to offer a fun and welcoming environment for new and seasoned watch
enthusiasts alike, and he is also one of the two masterminds behind the hit Singaporean watch fair Spring,
Sprang, Sprung, which enjoyed its successful debut in October 2022.
Sugi has been one of our biggest supporters from the earliest days of Atelier Wen, providing us with a stage for our Porcelain Odyssey line. He continues to be one of the leading lights in the regional scene for the championing of up-and-coming young independents. This journey very much began with his aid, and as one of our retailers, he continues to represent an important platform of visibility for Atelier Wen today.
Tristan Ledard is a talented French watchmaker whose love for the craft stems from the manual and
meticulous work involved in watchmaking. Graduating from the Brevet des Métiers d'Art course at the Paris
watchmaking school, he has worked priorly under the guidance of several great watchmakers, and had the
opportunity to work on an astronomical clock. These experiences developed his taste for clockmaking as
well as the idea of creating his first timepiece: Astro, a clock with a linear equation of time.
In 2016, Astro was presented at Baselworld during the "Young Talent" competition organized by the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI). It won top honours, and he was presented the prize by none other than Mr. François-Paul Journe.
Tristan has since created his own company, TL-Watchmaking with the goal of creating entirely handmade watches. He is presently working on his first wristwatch Modelos.
Throughout the development of Perception, Tristan has been essential to our project, aiding us with after-sales service, as well as mechanical development and design. Needless to say, we are truly grateful for his input, and glad that we can count on a watchmaker of his talents!
For those of us who dwell in the various spheres of horological interest and collection, the name Wei Koh
is an all too familiar one. As the founder of the pioneering watch magazine, Revolution, as well as the
man behind the sartorial scripture that is The Rake, his larger-than-life presence is among the most
iconic and recognisable in the industry.
With Revolution magazine seeing publication across 17 different countries and known for its collaborations with some of the biggest brands in the watch world, Wei’s willingness to extend a collaborative hand has been truly humbling for us. Our recent edition together, 喜 (Xǐ ), launched to much fanfare, and we look upon it proudly as both a marker of how far we have come as a brand. We look forward immensely to working closely with Wei and the Revolution team in time to come!
This journey would not have been possible without the collective efforts of many friends, family members and
ardent supporters and we wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to them here.
To the individuals listed below and to everyone else who went above and beyond to realise Atelier Wen, this journey would not have been possible without your immense support and unwavering belief in our project.
- Andy Bao
- Yew Mun Cheong
- Jonathan Cruysberghs
- Willie Gan
- Toshiyuki Hashimoto
- Hisaki Ito
- Edgar Koh
- Justin Lam
- Bryan Li
- Li Mingliang
- Li Wei
- Liu Yuguan
- Serge Maillard
- Jiyu Park
- Ignatius Tan
- Jean-Philippe Tarot
- Pietro Tomajer
- Daniel Wang
- Xi Wang
- Yifan Zhuang