— World Replica Watches was lucky enough to get its hands on one of Claude Meylan’s newest creations, the Lionne Initiale, for a few weeks. A romantic take on mechanical conservatism.
This year the Vallée de Joux watchmaker Claude Meylan has fleshed out his collections with a number of new models. The Lionne collection sees the arrival of the Lionne Initiale, a watch that can be customised both inside and out. I had the privilege of wearing this ladies’ timepiece. Here are my impressions.
I generally wear conservative, understated watches. If there is also a vintage touch, that’s great. I should state up front that the Lionne Initiale somewhat went against my traditional and conservative aesthetic. But this customisable timepiece with its retro looks is an apt response to the way we live today, a perfect blend of watchmaking savoir-faire and the dictates of our consumer society. If you like something, you buy it. If you no longer like it, you throw it away. The Lionne Initiale responds to this behavioural trend with the ability to personalise the design. It’s not just an item on your wrist – it’s a creation, and you have helped to create it.
Let me explain. Claude Meylan, a master of skeletonisation, offers women the opportunity to customise every aspect of their wristwatch. After all, if we’ve chosen it ourselves, we’re surely going to be happy with it. A strap made of hi-tech seamless satin? Done! Or wait, maybe a classic black, brown or white leather strap? Not a problem! But the real customisation happens inside the watch. The cut-out bridges are given the shape of our initials, or the initials of whomever we wish. “CM” for Claude Meylan. “IG” for myself, “NA” for a friend, a big “M” for Madonna, the queen of pop, the choice is yours – the bridges are worked according to your desire. This customisation gives a sensuously romantic aspect to the watch’s mechanical heart.
Claude Meylan is a master of the art of skeletonisation, and this model proves it yet again. The Lionne Initiale comes in a 35 mm case with either an automatic or a hand-wound movement. The open centre of the dial reveals the perpetual dance of the hours and minutes and the ballet of the gears. The Roman numerals bring a nostalgic touch that I particularly love.
Most of my colleagues appreciated the fact that the watch could be personalised, a relatively rare feature in the watch industry. Many found it too conservative, but hey, there’s no accounting for taste…
Personally speaking, although I was enchanted by the idea of having a watch customised to my taste, I’m not entirely convinced by the Lionne Initiale. I love skeleton watches: I like to see the mechanics, watch the gears turning, focus on a tourbillon or feel the rotor swinging with every movement of my wrist. So the very aspect that embodies the strength and identity of this watch – its bridges – are for me a disadvantage. They are too big, too dominant, and they obstruct the view of the movement. But that’s the only negative point. In terms of the refinement, femininity and effortless style that Claude Meylan’s savoir-faire has given to the Lionne Initiale, I’m most definitely a fan.