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A brand's story : Atelier Wen by Extropian

brand's story
atelier wen
perception
odyssey
perception V2
A brand's story : Atelier Wen by Extropian

There is a lot to be said about a buyers’ perception. Once the marketing message is engrained on our minds, there is little that we can do about it. This situation has happened many times, and we are not only talking about the watch scene. A relevant example would be Japanese consumer goods, weather we are talking about cars or TVs, the reputation for their quality its outstanding. Even if rivals from other countries have more heritage and features, you can be sure that these objects made in the far east, are going to better assembled and long-lasting.

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Of course, we are talking about today’s perception, but it wasn’t always like that, in fact, a few decades back, Japanese products were seen as low quality and cheaper alternatives to their Americans and Europeans counterparts. The main reason is because they needed time to refine their production, and now, well here we are.

Why is all the above relevant? well, Atelier Wen is going for a similar approach. These days, just like Japanese products in the past, Chinese product have a questionable reputation. They are seen as cheaper alternatives and dismissed right from the start. It would take an amount of time to change our views, but Atelier Wen is completely focus on doing so. It is a great story, join us to discover it.

New Watch Release Alert:

Atelier Wen unveils the brand-new Perception V2!

Following the success of their first series in January 2023, the team has worked tirelessly to refine and enhance every aspect of their watch, thanks to the valuable feedback from their incredible community.

Taking the time to listen, they conducted an in-depth survey and received over 400 responses, carefully considering each suggestion. Here’s an overview of the remarkable improvements made:
- Enhanced bracelet finishing

- Redesigned clasp blade
- Revamped case-back
- Improved dial
- Refined seconds hand
- Brighter lume
- Upgraded movement finishing
- Redesigned rubber straps

Screenshot 2023 12 21 at 3.05.02 Pm 2048x2048

How it all begins:

The idea comes with creating a brand that can expose Chinese heritage and craftmanship.  It makes sense really, when you think that China does have a great legacy in watchmaking, it just needed to be revived.

When we spoke with Atelier Wen a few years back, we talked about designs and ideas, the passion on watchmaking was contagious. Also, there is an advantage to start a brand in China because they are one of the biggest suppliers for watch parts in the world. This allows the brand to benefit from knowhow, options and prices that would allow them to be competitive in the luxury arena, more on this last point shortly.

As a side note the name Atelier Wen is a mixture of the French word Atelier which means workshop and Wen in Chinese which means culture. 

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Who made it happen:

This time, instead of inspiration we are going to use the word friendship. Inspiration is key, the moment when an idea strikes, but friendship seems a bit more powerful, it is more personal. Robin who started early in his collecting journey, has enjoyed several prestigious positions regarding watchmaking such as Execution Expert in China’s Horologe Association. His knowledge is extensive and with the help of his friend Wilfried, the duo seemed ready for the challenge.

Coming back to his counterpart Wilfried, he brings the entrepreneur part of the brand, commanding the Mandarin language which could be a barrier for the project, and attachment for Chinese culture, it’s a win win combination to launch a successful brand.

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What it’s the brand’s philosophy?

The idea of Atelier Wen its deeper than just creating a watch brand. The philosophy lies in bring an alternative to Swiss luxury watches but coming from China. Sems like an impossible statement when you think how engrained Switzerland is establish in the watch scene but let us remember just like Japan with electronic goods, watchmaking not so long ago had a much stronger in France and Britain. What we mean is that perception can rapidly change, and Atelier Wen might be onto something special.

Another important point that the duo is trying to change, is the expectation of quality goods coming from China. Just like we mentioned at the beginning of the review, we are in this cycle that feels that China is only making disposable goods at a lower quality. In recent years the low-quality aspect still exists but more refined options have appeared in the market. There is a price to be paid of course, but with a vast offer of components, movements and case manufacturers, the possibilities are endless.

The style and design

Atelier Wen has a mixture of contemporary and modern designs. The idea is to celebrate Chinese tradition and craftsmanship. Spectacular details can be found on the case backs, hands, lugs and crowns. It shouldn’t be any different than this as Chinese culture can be potentially one of the riches ones in terms of design. From fonts, ceramic to battle instruments, the ornamental nature of the country in the far east is vast as its territory.

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That said the designs trends found on the watches are subtle, which means that there are well integrated with the design. Case backs are the primary source to express the artistry by accommodating dragons and other mythological creatures. The details are exceptional. Same happens with the face of the watch. Even that they are more traditional looking, we can still find geometric figures which come from past inspiration, Ceramic techniques mixed with blued hands. All blend with a great execution, quality is present, and it is very noticeable.

We wouldn’t say that Atelier Wen’s watches are theme watches. They feel more of an interpretation or evolution on how a watch from China would look like. Not because they are using elements from the past, but because of the artisanal approach they have. They are not mass-producing watches in large quantities; they are doing objects that can be appreciated through time.

Who is their target audience?

This is a point that we have debated quite a bit. The design is unmistakable Asian but you can see lots of traces of traditional Swiss watchmaking. Their newest integrated bracelet watch is a nod to Swiss pieces from the 70’s but with that Atelier’s Wen twist. What this means is that their target audience can be anyone who appreciates watchmaking and well-made objects.

Is not a watch made only for a particular region, but more of an export on what you can do with only Chinese supplied parts, of course always focusing on quality.

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We would say that anyone could appreciate one of Atelier Wens watches, from high end collectors to people who are starting in the hobby. There is something for everyone an its uniqueness it’s what makes it more attractive.

The current line of products?

The current line up is simple but with lots of variety. There is a dress watch and a sports watch, sound that there isn’t much to look at but, we agree with the concept that less is more. Their current main offers are:

  • The Perception: this is the latest watch from the brand. It is their own take into the integrated steels sports watches but with several unique additions. The dial is hand made using the Guilloche traditional method. A deeply embossed case back allowing you to see the mechanical movement and that integrated bracelet making the watch that harmonious design. The perception comes in blue named PIAO, in Salmon or XIA and a light brown shade which is called YING.
  • The Odyssey: this is the watch that started all, it incorporated traditional elements such as a porcelain dial with blued hands and centre seconds. It feels delicate but at the same time easy to wear every day. This watch made the watch world appreciate that quality and price could really co-exist. Unfortunately, the Odyssey is now sold out and the versions where blue, purple, green and red. All of them very good looking.

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What is coming?

At the moment we can enjoy the Perception as their last project, the demand was very high, and they are all sold out, but a new batch is coming in 2024. It would be a great year for the brand as the word to mouth of these pieces has travelled quite a lot. There is some speculation, but we believe that new colour variants will be around the corners and other Guilloche patterns.

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It would be a great surprise also if the Odyssey comes back, perhaps as a 2.0 version, as it could make the brand offering more compelling. That said, we are aware that these are more artisanal pieces and not mass produced. As an example, there are less than 60 people who can do hand made Guilloche dial, this is why production might not increase with the demand. It is quite a bit of work.

What we also expect is that Atelier Wen will continue to do high quality watches at a modest price, the Perception is a big jump from the Odyssey but very well justified as per the features that includes.

We are looking forward to novelties from Atelier Wen in the upcoming year and I am sure that there are some ideas already cooking. We find the concepts brilliant as also the execution. It feels that they are really operating their brands as they intended to, taking that reputation of Chinese goods higher. In no time we will enjoy more and more a different approach with Swiss equivalent quality at a more affordable price. We are sure that we are ready for it.

More information at www.atelierwen.com

Article written by Robbie and Watches

Created the 2023-12-26

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