Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Made in China, Birthed in Singapore Luxury Watches: Maison Celadon dress watches

Birthed in the forges of China, Maison Celadon is a Singapore-bred collection of dress watches (and one sports model) making a quiet but steady appearance on the wrists of watch enthusiasts

Jun 21, 2018 | By Jonathan Ho

Having witnessed the many “petrol kiosk” skeleton watches from China, one would understand the hesitation when it comes to putting down any serious money for a Chinese watch. But in 2012, a little known Maison was founded with the sacred mission of designing and bringing to fruition the finest Chinese luxury watches. Its creator named it, Celadon.

“In the wind and dews of the deepest autumn, the Yueyao kilns opened again, with the secret celadon capturing the lively green colour from 1,000 mountains,” – Lu Guimeng, scholar of the Tang Dynasty, AD 618-907

For millennia, China’s political system was based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, beginning with the semi-legendary Xia dynasty in 21st century BCE, since its early civilisation, outstripping even Euro-centric societies, many precious crafts were birthed in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. In many ancient literary works, the term “蜜色瓷” refers to the “secret colour” of imperial Celadon ceramics. Archaeological and literary records show reference to the special celadon glazing used to make the finest ceramics for sole use by the Imperial court.


Made in China, Birthed in Singapore Luxury Watches: Maison Celadon dress watches

“The dream I had from the outset – to create a Chinese luxury watch brand that will redefine how people see Chinese craftsmanship, and to introduce more and more people around the world to the quiet elegance and grace of Chinese design and the heartwarming beauty of Chinese culture.” – Benjamin Chee, Founder and CEO of Maison Celadon

The Imperial forms the foundation of Maison Celadon’s collection of understated dress watches. Four guilloché dial designs – “Blanc de Chine Plum Blossom”, “Imperial Red Plum Blossom”, “Midnight Blue Plum Blossom” and “Blanc de Chine Peacock”, driven by a CG18 handwinding movement are available in a series of 50 pieces for each design. Price: US$1598

For centuries, Chinese Emperors have enjoyed the artisanship of celadon ceramics, French and Swiss timepieces and thus in our time, it is only apt that a Chinese brand should find itself ascendant, promoted diligently and ceaselessly by its pioneering founder and CEO, Benjamin Chee.

The Maison Celadon timepieces are not priced stratospherically and what they represent is the embodiment of what Chinese watchmaking can be, given enough time, focus and of course, consumer support. Chee’s passion and love for China is communicated visually from the first cornerstone of the brand – the Imperial Series. Featuring subtle, classic Guilloché designs, Plum blossoms and Peacocks are oil stamped rather than hand engraved; in the former, the tree’s flowering in late winter represents elegance and tenacity even in harsh winters; for the latter, a symbol of pride and rank in the Imperial courts.

Maison Celadon’s Celestial Silk is an elegant dress watch with completely hand-embroidered Suzhou silk embroidery dial, driven by a Beijing Watch Company CG18 handwinding movement with a limited edition series of three embroidered dial designs – “Bird of Paradise”, “Azure Songbird” and “Duo of Swallows”. Each only in a 5 piece run. Retail Price: US$2598

A second pillar involves a national craft – Suzhou silk embroidery. 苏绣 or Su embroidery is the most celebrated of the four main styles of Chinese embroidery, celebrated for it,s subtle and refined needlework, finest threads, balanced compositions, dense stitching and smooth finish. The Celestial Silk collection is a continuation of Maison Celadon’s dedication towards dial artistry. The collection features three distinct embroidered dials, each with its own character, story and symbolism.

The Yue Fei is Maison Celadon’s idea of a luxury sporting watch;bearing two smoked dial colours – “Azure” and “Obsidian” and water resistant to 200 metres. Available in a series of 50 pieces for each design. Price: US$998

Finally, Yue Fei, Maison Celadon’s definition of luxury sports watch. The 岳飛 is symbolic of the ultimate Chinese warrior. Starting as foot soldier, his 20 year career in 12th century China saw him rise to Uber-Commander of Imperial Forces over the span of 126 battles and the invention of several Chinese boxing and wuxia styles. Exceptionally skilled with a spear, the halberd orbiting the sunray finished dial of the Yue Fei is a nod to the General’s martial ability.

From the case to dial, from crown to movement, there is an overabundance of attention to details on each Maison Celadon collection. With prices starting from US$1588, you’d be hard pressed to find a similarly priced Swiss product with equal number of refined elements.

Celestial Bespoke: The Pinnacle of Maison Celadon and of Chinese Watchmaking

The Celestial Bespoke is a magnificent micro-masterpiece, emblematic of Chinese artisanal crafts and traditions. The Beijing Watch Company CG24 hand wound double balance might not be finished to exacting Swiss or Saxony standards but it certainly comes close on cursory inspection. That said, it is the movement architecture which is particularly compelling, a planetary differential actually works to average rate variances between the twin balances for higher chronometry.

With prices starting from US$9998, the Celestial Bespoke takes its namesake from its completely bespoke dial, with choice of cloisonné enamel, micropainting enamel or Suzhou silk embroidery with bespoke engraving in gold on the movement; making it one of the most value for money pieces of high horology.

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