Les Matinaux, or ‘the morning,’ is a poem written by French poet and hero of the Resistance, René Char. Last December, at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, a new Les Matinaux was presented to the world; a 100-piece limited edition watch that pays homage to the celebrated poet’s legacy through its unique poetry in motion. Les Matinaux is not just a new watch, but a whole new way of reading time.
The dial of the Les Matinaux has no hands. Instead, three nonconcentric rotating rings of different sizes with graduated scales rotate, while the pointers remain fixed. This concept, in general, where the scale moves while the indicator remains static, is not new. It is the design of the dial and the manner and movement of the rings that makes Les Matinaux unique.
The graduated scales on the largest outer ring that runs along the dial’s periphery indicates the hours. The median ring, likewise, shows the minutes. The seconds are indicated by the movement of a skeletonized sub-dial within the median ring. The Sainte-Chapelle’s “grande rosace” motif has been chosen for the skeletonization of the seconds disc. “It is a mysterious place for Parisians, far away from the wandering eyes of onlookers passing by,” states the brand. The architecture of the dial offers a window to the beating heart within.
“The watch leaves time travelling along its path by reinventing its wheel. Thus a new classic is born, hands less, but with a sprinkle of magic!” – Trilobe
Les Matinaux is sold under the Trilobe brand, founded just three years ago by former banker Gautier Massonneau. The son of an architect, and of a decorator, creativity was in Massonneau’s veins. His love of horology drove him to design a new watch. It had to be different. It had to be a fusion of poetry, architecture and design. After three years of drawings and mock-ups, he approached Jean-François Mojon, the renowned watchmaker who founded the complications specialist Chronode.
Formerly in charge of IWC’S R&D and quality, Mojon’s list of clients at Chronode includes the likes of Hermès, Harry Winston and MB&F. After three years of R&D and prototyping, the complication for the Les Matinaux was ready. The prototypes were unveiled to the world at Baselworld 2019.
The case of Les Matinaux is 40.5mm in diameter and 10.25 mm thick, in stainless steel (316L), with mirror-polished surfaces alternating with satin-brushed treatments. The collection is available in eight dials variations based on colour and finish. Six in “Sunray”: Blue, Silver, Grey, Black, Carmine, and Green; two “Storm” finishes in Grey and Silver. The three static pointers, in the shape of the brand’s trefoils (trilobe in French), seem somewhat scattered across the dial, while the rings rotate counterclockwise. Not surprisingly, telling the time on a Les Matinaux takes some getting used to; but that is kind of the idea, “because the true luxury today is to take its time,” says the man behind the design.
The case is topped by a domed sapphire crystal with double anti-reflection treatment. The lugs attach to leather or alligator strap. The strap is made in Paris by a team of artisans from a company certified: Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant (Living Heritage Company). The label is a mark of recognition by the French State, put in place to reward French firms for their excellence in traditional and industrial know-how. The strap colour coordinated with the colour of the dial. The double folding buckle is subtly engraved with the Trilobe logo.
The movement is a “highly modified” 2892 automatic winding calibre with X-Centric module. It has 246 custom-assembled components with approximately 42 hours of power reserve. The case back features a Sapphire Crystal window and, among other engravings, the watch’s serial number out of 100. The watch has a water-resistance of upto 5 bars.
For the 2019 Only Watch charity auction, Trilobe produced a one-off tribute to René Char. The case is made of bronze with a complimentary brown sunray finish dial. The solid caseback has René Char’s signature on it, as well as the words “Impose ta chance, serre ton bonheur et va vers ton risque. A te regarder ils s’ habitueront,” which translate to “Impose your luck, embrace your happiness and go towards your risks. By looking at you, they will get used to it.”
Late last year, Trilobe presented Secret, the latest edition of the Les Matinaux collection. Each Les Matinaux Secret is not just unique, but personal to its owner. The dial of each watch features a map of the sky with the stars from the day, time and place that is dear to each customer. In the dark, the stars light-up to illuminate the chosen moment through a 3D application of superluminova, the first of its kind in the watchmaking world. On the case-back is an engraving that reads: One-piece.
Gautier Massonneau wanted to bring about a “fusion of poetry, architecture and design.” Based on the evidence of the brand’s first offerings, one would have to concur.