When gentlemen discuss watches, the name Chaumet is not one that comes up often. Not that the brand is unknown, actually far from that, but it is in general more associated with high end jewelry rather than watches. Yet watches, especially for ladies, are not at all unknown territory for Chaumet. The brand even claims to have created wristwatches as early as 1811. The most recognizable wristwatches from the brand are even today for ladies, with one exception: The Dandy.
The Chaumet Dandy was introduced in 2003, and it’s name couldn’t have been more suitable. A lot of emphasis was placed on appearance, coming with a refinement so natural it seemed almost casually effortless. It was completely in line with Chaumet’s tradition of adding a generous dash of Haute Couture to it’s designs, something a true dandy never objects to. The oval shape of the case, combined with the surprisingly small screwed in lugs, resulted in a very recognizable watch. Yet the main trademark of the watch was it’s asymmetrical dial, complemented by a calf leather strap with an off centre line of silk sewn in to compliment the dial. The good news for watch connoisseurs was also that the Dandy was fitted with a manual wind movement. For those who might find it disappointing that this was merely the ETA/Peseux caliber 7001, there are two things to keep in mind; First of all, it is said that a Dandy often comes from a working-class background and is almost always a self-made man. Secondly, as would a Dandy, is refinement is gained gradually with its age.
The current collection of the Chaumet Dandy is a display of “Dandyism” in the finest tradition. The original version is still available, but now joined with a slightly more subdued version coming with Arabic numeral dial, sub-seconds at 9 o’clock and far more common alligator strap. Let’s call it a Dandy undercover. More interesting though it gets with the chronograph. This watch still features the asymmetrical dial but looks more balanced due to the two sub dials. Although the Dandy is referred to as an oval, the case is more of a cushion. The time-only model is 38mm wide and high and is not a small watch, but the automatic chronograph adds two millimetres to this and comes with a generously sized case 40mm wide by 40mm high. Especially when you opt for the steel bracelet, you are wearing quite a substantial watch. The bracelet also features an asymmetrical design, and in a time when many of bracelets look alike, this is quite refreshing.
Chronographs are not the only complication that Chaumet incorporated in the Dandy-collection. Very interesting is the Dandy Metronome. This watch features a complication with a clever system of two seconds hands that run in the opposite direction to each other, creating the look of a metronome on the dial. This complication was originally developed by Jean-Marc Wiederrecht for the Steinway & Sons Seconde Metronomique, indeed the watch collection of the famous piano-builder. The Dandy Metronome is housed in a white gold case and features a black and white theme on the dial and the strap. It was introduced in 2011 as a limited edition of 100 pieces to commemorate the 200th year after the birth of Frederic Chopin. What is Chaumet’s link with Chopin? Chopin used to live in the building in Paris where Chaumet’s boutique is now located.
A pleasant surprise is that the current Dandy-collection also contains a jumping hour as well as a regulator. The jumping hour is the dressiest of the two, and displays another hallmark of the Dandy-collection; the finish of the dials. They may strike one as being rather plain and straight-forward at first, but closer examination reveals a wealth of textures and finishes. The jumping hour for example features a midnight-blue dial with guilloché bayadères stripes and a fine-brushed sunray pattern. The disk with the jumping hours is also midnight-blue, with white numerals, a very important detail that is often overlooked. The regulator has a more casual and sporty nature. While the jumping hour is only available in white and pink gold, the regulator a steel-only model albeit combined with a few pink gold details. When combined with the metal bracelet, the regulator quite an imposing watch, and a proposition one might not expect from a brand like Chaumet, and especially not within the Dandy-collection. It’s as if our metaphorical Dandy is flexing his muscles with with the result of a practical yet exclusive watch as a result. Still this is a unique choice, but clearly not afraid to go head to head to other offerings within its price category.
Within the Dandy-collection, there is a special place for the Dandy Édition Arty. This part of the collection takes the love for the asymmetrical to higher grounds. Two off-set circles in a black metalized crystal sapphire now display hours, minutes and seconds.The crown migrated to the top of the watch, half set in the strap. Although quite stunning by itself, men who want to amplify the mechanical nature of this watch might prefer the open face version where the gear train towards the small seconds has been made visible. The Dandy Édition Arty is powered by an ETA 2892-A2 fitted with a module created by Agenhor, the same company also builds the module for the Dandy Metronome.
The ultimate Dandy Édition Arty, and perhaps even the ultimate Dandy ever, are two very special watches. Here, the metalized crystal sapphire that forms the top of the watch is replaced by either Tiger-eye for the pink gold version, and Snow Obsidian for the steel version. Both semi-precious stones, and especially the snow obsidian, are very rarely used in watches, making them a suitable choice for the Chaumet Dandy and indeed pleasantly different!
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics