Singaporean collector Benjamin Chee has entered our watchmaking vocabulary with his insatiable appetite for refined watchmaking expressed through his three separate watch brands – BCHH, Celadon HH (Haute Horlogerie) and Milléchron. Celadon HH, founded by Chee in 2012, is the Chinese arm of Chee’s watchmaking emporium and is determined to change our perception of the “Made in China” label by combining exquisite craftsmanship with top-notch mechanics. The latest offering, representing Classical Scenes of Imperial China, is a series of exquisitely handcrafted cloisonné dials with cases from the Century collection and a new mechanical movement by AHCI master watchmaker Lin Yong Hua made exclusively for Celadon HH.
Made in China with Pride
Showcasing three of China’s greatest imperial dynasties and a fourth model dedicated to the Seven Wonders of the World, the Century quartet is designed to whet the appetite of potential collectors because the watches are made exclusively to order, and clients can choose dials from past and present collections. We covered earlier Century models depicting Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” and a classical Chinese motif “Peacock and Peonies” to give you a feel for what the brand can produce.
The original moon-shaped case reflects Chee’s admiration for Chinese culture; the left side of the case emulates the shape of classical Chinese arch bridges, while the right side evokes circular Moon gates. Made in 904L stainless steel, the case measures 42mm across, has a thickness of 11.5mm and a lug-to-lug width of 47.4mm. Hand-finished with alternating satin-brushed and polished surfaces, the wide, flat crown sits flush with the case.
Using the refined art of cloisonné enamel, which arrived in China from Persia in the 15th century, the dials are handmade in the Beijing atelier of grandmaster Xiong Songtao, whose ancestors descend from Imperial court enamellers. Cloisonné enamel uses thin metal strips soldered to the surface to create the outline of a decorative pattern that is, in turn, filled with different enamel colours.
Imperial Chinese Motifs
The “Mandarin Duck”, which mates for life and became a symbol of eternal love during the Tang Dynasty, is recreated here with magnificently coloured feathers. The “Duo of Swallows” represented in mid-flight with a flowering tree was a classic Song Dynasty motif representing nature’s beauty and resilience. The third Chinese-inspired dial depicts Beijing’s grandiose “Temple of Heaven”. Regarded as the most important structure in China, it has stood for six centuries in Beijing and was inscribed as a World Heritage site in 1998.
Departing from Chinese motifs, the “Seven Wonders” cloisonné dial depicts the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, Petra, the Colosseum, Christ the Redeemer, Machu Picchu and Chichen Itza in the centre. With no hour markers, the time is indicated by Celadon’s signature peacock-tail hands with openworked tips. Handmade, the hands are heated to obtain a uniform purple colour.
The latest Century collection is equipped with a bespoke manual-winding movement made by AHCI master watchmaker Lin Yong Hua. Known as the CH5 Phoenix, the finger bridges, balance cock and click evoke the crested head and tail feather of the phoenix, the mythological bird that represents the Empress of China. The movement is decorated with mirror polishing, Chinese scroll stripes instead of Côtes de Genève, gold chatons, hand-bevelling, purple-heated screws, a spoked centre wheel and a Breguet overcoil. The movement also has a sophisticated crown wheel and click springs to improve the winding smoothness. Beating at 18,800vph, the movement delivers a power reserve of 45 hours.
Bespoke Options & Price
As with most Celadon watches, the sky is the limit when it comes to customisation options and each watch is made to order. Clients are free to select any dial from past and present collections to pair with either the CH1 or CH5 movement (the only dial that has to be paired with the new CH5 movement is the “Seven Wonders”). Even the movement can be customised with rose or white gold bridges and different finishings. The price of the Century CH5 cloisonné enamel models is USD 29,900.
For more information and to find out all the bespoke options available, please consult celadonhh.com.