Atelier Wen, Wristcheck, and seconde/seconde/ show that Perception is everything

Atelier Wen, Wristcheck, and seconde/seconde/ show that Perception is everything

Borna Bošnjak

Atelier Wen was without doubt one of the success stories of 2022, having introduced hand-made guilloché dials at an affordable price point, something truly rare in the industry. They followed up the initial batch with several limited editions, each with a new take on guilloché patterns, and all made in the workshop of master Cheng Yucai. Today’s release concerns the swirly, green-dialled collaboration with Austen Chu of Wristcheck, a 100-piece run that sold out as quickly as you’d expect, given that it was a hot contender for dial of the year, regardless of price point. In the process, Atelier Wen co-founder Robin Tallendier rejected 36 dials – an astounding amount, considering how limited the run was. Chu only saw this as an opportunity, however, recruiting the help of another talented Frenchman. The result is this – the Atelier Wen x Wristcheck x seconde/seconde Perception 锔瓷 – a tribute to traditional arts through the lenses of two very different artists, most notably the ancient craft of mending Celadon porcelain known as 锔瓷 (jū cí).

The dial

atelier wen seconde seconde wristcheck perception ju ci dial 3

It’s no secret that most watch nerds love the word unique. Guilloché of any kind, especially affordable one, is rare enough, but when you combine it with one-of-a-kind quirks the Perception 锔瓷 has, I can already see some WIS salivating. What makes these dials truly special are the tiny imperfections that Tallendier found to be too egregious to make it to their final product, and to easily differentiate them, Cheng Yucai marked them with a deep, randomly positioned cut.

Furthermore, there aren’t too many watch brands out there, especially microbrands proud of their distinct designs, that opt to remove their branding from the dial completely. The Perception 锔瓷 is one such rare example, and the watch above is no prototype. Okay – that’s kind of a lie. The watch in the pictures is, in fact, a prototype, but its dial isn’t some pre-production fluke, rather being the most subtle sign of Romaric André’s involvement. Not only did he repair the cuts with three 24k gold cross-stitches, he insisted on the dials having no branding, explaining to the Atelier Wen folks that “your process once rejected those dials. So don’t pretend now that they are yours!”

Focusing only on the repaired aspects would be understandable if this was just a regular dial, though this is anything but – I mean, just look at it! The swirling sea of green and jade is just incredible, and I’d be remiss not to point out the artisanal effort that goes into it, regardless of the tiny imperfection that ultimately made it end up here.

The case

atelier wen seconde seconde wristcheck perception ju ci wrist 2

With the wonders of the dial aplenty, I’m happy to report that the case of the Perception is simple enough to let it breathe, but with enough custom touches that make for a pleasant wearing experience. The 904L steel used for the case is a nice upgrade over 316L alloys used by most of the watchmaking industry, making the construction on par with well-known industry players. Interestingly, Atelier Wen don’t go overboard with the polishing, something you may expect them to do given the 904L steel’s superior lustre. Instead, it’s reserved for the domed bezel and the facet running down the length of the case, connecting with the bracelet.

atelier wen seconde seconde wristcheck perception ju ci case profile

Another aspect I have to commend Atelier Wen on is how wearable the watch is, despite being 40mm in diameter with a 47mm lug-to-lug. That’s thanks to the sharp angle at which the lugs turn down, with a measurement of 40.4mm slope-to-slope (if that’s a thing) being a lot more wearable. This side profile of the case also offers a view at one of only few instances of Atelier Wen branding on the case – don’t forget, you won’t find it on the dial. Instead, their swirling logo is engraved into the screw-down crown that offers 100 metres of water resistance.

The bracelet

atelier wen seconde seconde wristcheck perception ju ci bracelet clasp

Apart from the dial, this may be my favourite part of the watch. Not only are all the links separated by rounded, polished highlights, but it’s the clasp where the whole assembly really comes together. First of all, the Perception has my favourite manner of quickly adjusting the bracelet. Simply press the wonderfully integrated Atelier Wen logo, et voilà – the there’s a few millimetres of movement that will make it a breeze in wrist-swelling summer months. Atelier Wen also include a solution that I’m sure those with small wrists but big hands have struggled with – the blade of the clasp actually has a sliding mechanism that makes the bracelet that much easier to put on, neatly hiding away when on the wrist. It’s frankly ingenious. The only niggle I have with the bracelet links is their articulation – I do wish they had a little more movement, but I feel like that would compromise their cool hexagonal link design, so I’m happy to compromise. For those who want a little more comfort, Atelier Wen also provides an rubber strap with a lovely Atelier Wen buckle, in a khaki green. Worth pointing out is that the clasp also has the extension system for big-handed-but-small-wristed folk – a great inclusion once again.

The movement

atelier wen seconde seconde wristcheck perception ju ci caseback movement

Peering through the open mouth of an engraved lion is the Dandong SL1588 calibre. It’s a relatively new, ultra-thin automatic that debuted in the original Perception, and though it’s relatively unproven, it sports some decent specs. Though it’s mostly obscured, Atelier Wen decorates the bridges and tungsten rotor with côtes de Genève, with the latter getting a touch of green rhodium plating, too. The calibre is adjusted in five positions and for temperature fluctuation, and though not exactly specified for this release, was regulated to +/-10 seconds in previous Perceptions and ticks for up to 41 hours.

This caseback view offers a look at two touches that are distinct to the Perception 锔瓷. The first is an inscription that rests atop the lion’s head in seconde/seconde/ font, reading “rejected -> *insert hourglass emoticon here* -> praised”, with a second nod to the collaborators inscribed on the rotor.

The verdict

atelier wen seconde seconde wristcheck perception ju ci wrist

I’m a little biased towards the work of both Atelier Wen and seconde/seconde/, and has both the wonderful craftsmanship of Cheng Yucai and the quirky twist of Romaric André. Though I prefer the Perception in its more lightweight titanium examples, it’s basically as comfortable on the wrist as those. In all honesty, the Perception always felt like a more expensive watch, regardless of what dial it had, and that hasn’t changed – which is a good thing. The ratcheting clasp, for example, is amazing, and sets an example for micro and big-box brands alike. What hugely surprised me is the price, however. Dear reader, it is spicy. It may be crude to talk about money, but it’s an important aspect for any microbrand, especially one hedging on their ability to provide a rare craft at a very attractive price. Since it first released, the batch-produced Perception line went from US$2,088 to US$3,288, with prior limited editions priced at US$3,400. Not amazing for budget-oriented collectors, but understandable considering the difficulties in producing the dials. This latest collab stretches that all the way to US$5,000. I’ll let you make up your own mind about it, but I have an inkling that the Perception 锔瓷 will be part of only the most enthusiastic (and deep-pocketed) Atelier Wen and seconde/seconde/ collectors.

Atelier Wen x Wristcheck x seconde/seconde/ Perception 锔瓷 pricing and availability

The Atelier Wen x seconde/seconde/ x Wristcheck 锔瓷 is a limited edition of 36 pieces, and will be available from 10:00 HKT on November 29, 2023. Price: US$5,000, HK$39,000

Brand Atelier Wen
Model Perception 锔瓷 x Wristcheck x seconde/seconde/
Case Dimensions 40mm (D) x 9.4mm (T) x 47mm (LTL)
Case Material 904L stainless steel
Water Resistance 100 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire front and back
Dial Handmade rejected guilloché, 24k gold appliques
Lug Width Integrated
Bracelet 904L steel bracelet, folding buckle with on-the-fly adjustment
Movement Dandong SL1588, automatic, adjusted in five positions
Power Reserve 41 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, seconds
Availability 36 pieces
Price US$5,000
HK$39,000