During Watches & Wonders, we dropped in to see our friends at AHCI who was exhibiting at Icebergues, and caught up with Sylvian Pinaud. Here is our hands-on review of his Origine, who he first showed last year, but which we just got to see in the flesh for the first time in Geneva.
We have been excited about the work of Sylvian Pinaud ever since we first encountered him and his Monopusher Chronograph way back in 2019. Read our comprehensive review here.
We remain impressed, and wrote a fairly lengthy impressions article on the Origine when it was released. He has since won the Horological Revelation Prize for the Origine in 2022. We managed to speak to Sylvian again recently, and view the watch to photograph it recently in Geneva. Here is our review.
Review: hands-on with the new Sylvian Pinaud Origine
Retail pricing of the Sylvian Pinaud Origine is set at CHF 65,000 with steel bridges and blue hands and CHF 68,000 with rose gold bridges and rose gold hands. As we understand it, the series is not limited, but Sylvian has his order books rather full for the coming years. For enquiries, contact him here.
The case and dial
The case design is a rather more conventional round case than the elaborate design of Sylvian’s chronograph, with long curved lugs extending from the case middle, with a bombé style bezel. The entire case is made in steel, and features polished surfaces. Two versions are available. One with a stainless steel balance bridge with blued steel hands, which is the main feature of this review, and a second option for a rose gold balance bridge with rose gold hands.
As we mentioned in our impressions piece, the dial layout is very pleasing to our eyes. The time telling part of the dial itself is only part of the face of the watch. It is a figure of 8 plate which is bolted to the rear of the movement plate. This plate has a very well finished with a high polished frame, and holds a donut shaped hour minute hour sub-dial which is laid out in a asymmetric layout slightly offset to the right. The seconds sub-dial overlaps this Hour Minute donut through a cutout. And pride of place on the dial real estate is taken by the balance bridge bearing the large 13.2mm diameter balance wheel visible through a cutout on the dial plate. The back of the movement base plate is visible from the front, and is finished in a frosted texture with gorgeous anglage. Also visible is the jewel for the escape wheel, and the two inward angles on the cutout to present the escapement.
As mentioned, the magnificent balance bridge is a key focal point on the dial. The bridge is flat and is attached to the movement plate by two high polished screws. The bridge itself is also in a high black polish with anglage. The opening where the balance jewel sits in its shock absorption system is bevelled and polished. The entire balance is visible through the bridge, and features the in-house escapement and balance wheel with variable inertia.
As we mentioned in our impressions commentary, the dial layout is “somewhat reminiscent of the Greubel Forsey Signature One or the Balancier Contemporain, though the elements are laid out differently. The quality of the work as we have discovered with his Chronograph during our hands-on session, as well as the high resolution photographs Sylvian sent show a standard of finish which is perhaps at the same level as the venerated works which bear the Greubel Forsey signature. This is high praise indeed, especially for a small independent. To date, Sylvian tells us that the atelier comprise of a three man team.” With this viewing, we can now confirm what we had expected in our impressions article.
The movement is also a completely new design. The entire movement is conceived, designed and produced by Sylvian and his small team in Ste.-Croix. Through the display case back, we can see that the basic layout is rather traditional, with a very nice frosting texture on the entire back plate. The movement is laid out in the English three quarter plate style, with two cocks holding the fourth and fifth wheels. The bridges all feature highly polished anglagé and nicely executed inward angles.
As the watch displays the balance on the dial side, by the aforementioned bridge, the easy way is to design the movement in the traditional layout, but cut an opening in the dial to show the back of the balance. But Sylvian is not merely satisfied this, and chose to do the correct thing by redesigning the movement. The entire balance front to back, and not dis-similar to what Kari Voutilainen has done to his Vingt-8 Ti, though Kari flips the entire movement, Sylvian only flips the balance. As a result, the case back shows only the rear of the plate with the balance mounting jewel in its anti-shock system
The wheels feature cerclage or soleillage and bevelled arms. All countersinks for jewels and screws are polished. Note also in the photograph below, a spring with its attachment is visible at about 5 o’clock finished in is in black polish , with bevelling and countersunk openings for the locating pins and screw. Note also the screw head is in the same black polish, including the slot.
We judge the finishing to be at the haute de gamme of high end watchmaking. Certainly a contender for the best in the industry. And yes, we are making comparisons to likes of Greubel Forsey, Philippe Dufour and Rexhep Rexhepi. Perhaps not directly comparable with these legendary marques, but certainly at a similar level with different techniques being chosen and displayed. Speaking of Dufour, we view the Origine as a landmark watch for Sylvian…sort of his version of the now ultra famous “Simplicity”.
We obviously love the watch. We love the vibe. We love the finishing. And most of all, we love the aesthetic and the design. Even the pricing is eminently fair, given this level of workmanship and craft. We are very impressed with Sylvian, both as a watchmaker and a person. Even with the GPHG in the bag, we are always pleased with each interaction, which is more than what we can say with some newly hyped watchmakers. Sylvian has remained humble and very down to earth despite the enormous talent.
We had initially thought that we might have preferred the rose gold variant in our impressions article, but having seen both in the metal (so to speak) and handling both, our preference is now for the monochromatic all steel version. We feel it retains a rather more engineered and sober aesthetic than the more romantic feel of the rose gold accents. But whichever version you chose. Just chose one. This is our “sage” advice: go ahead and order one. You will thank us later when the Origine break records in auctions later. Having said that, we are definitely not qualified to give sage advice, and please take it for what it is: free advice is worth what you pay for.