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Atelier Wen: The New Chinese Chic - Quality Mechanical Watches - Official Affiliate Thread

Fandegrue

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Hello everyone!

Here’s a summary of all the news that happened over the past few days!

First of all, we finally received our Mainland China business licence!



We also received some prototypes for the booklet (it includes the warranty)! Please note that on the production pieces the cover page surface won’t be glossy but “grainy” instead ;)





As we have tested it quite extensively, the cover of this booklet prototype is fairly used...

And some box prototypes!





We have also created accounts on Weibo and Zhihu!

Today, I also received some new (and final) crown prototypes. As you may have known, the size of the crown was somehow tending towards the “too small” section, and, thus, we had decided that on the production models, its diameter would be 0.5mm larger. This had been agreed on in late August 2018, when Robin and Wilfried held their hands on the prototypes for the first time.

In the process of this crown redesign, we couldn’t help but notice how quickly the ones present on the prototypes would get dirty. This was due mainly to its two different surface finishes (frosted and polished) as well as to the very abrupt and sharp angles of the engraving. We had talked to our crown supplier about this issue, but nevertheless they were not hugely keen on spending months fine-tuning for such a small order. Fair enough, we understood.

We thus reached out to some of our contacts in Beijing and eventually we were introduced to one company in Shenzhen which they saw as one of the very best in this field in China. They took up the challenge, and after 5 rounds of prototyping (around 20 pieces are made at each), we are today happy to announce that we have no more improvement suggestions to send to the manufacturer. The crowns looks neat, the engraving has some relief, the incrementing on the side is sharp and the overall feels solid and easy to manipulate. We hope you will enjoy it!





Have a nice day,

Robin.
 

Fandegrue

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Hello everyone!

Some short updates to share with you all today! First of all, I am happy to say that the pouches and straps (calf and nubuck only; the salmon ones will be finished a little later) have recently been completed!

Wilfried went to Shenzhen yesterday to check how manufacturing was progressing and to potentially “boost” a little bit suppliers which may have been tempted to slack. While there, he picked up one of the new improved cases and brought it to the office in HK this morning. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement. It is in so many ways much better than the one of the prototypes; I’m extremely pleased and super eager to hold the final product in my hands. The steel looks “whiter” (Japanese 316L vs Chinese 316L on the prototypes), the polishing is much more mirror-like, the angles are crisper and more neat, the junction points are cleaner… The double-domed sapphire really adds some value; there are simply no more distorsion stemming from the crystal! The new crown fits the updated case very well. I just can’t wait to see the production watches with all the improved components.








Have a nice day!

Robin.
 

Riva

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Hello everyone!

Some short updates to share with you all today! First of all, I am happy to say that the pouches and straps (calf and nubuck only; the salmon ones will be finished a little later) have recently been completed!

Wilfried went to Shenzhen yesterday to check how manufacturing was progressing and to potentially “boost” a little bit suppliers which may have been tempted to slack. While there, he picked up one of the new improved cases and brought it to the office in HK this morning. To say that I was impressed would be an understatement. It is in so many ways much better than the one of the prototypes; I’m extremely pleased and super eager to hold the final product in my hands. The steel looks “whiter” (Japanese 316L vs Chinese 316L on the prototypes), the polishing is much more mirror-like, the angles are crisper and more neat, the junction points are cleaner… The double-domed sapphire really adds some value; there are simply no more distorsion stemming from the crystal! The new crown fits the updated case very well. I just can’t wait to see the production watches with all the improved components.








Have a nice day!

Robin.
My unbiased opinion says the case looks way sharper and better than anything under $2k that I've owned. As long as the production result is consistent then you have a winner. I keep wondering though what you had to do to convince the giant manufacturers to put up with your strict standards when ordering only 100+ pieces. But this is what it takes to make a serious brand that may last beyond being startups.
 

Fandegrue

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My unbiased opinion says the case looks way sharper and better than anything under $2k that I've owned. As long as the production result is consistent then you have a winner. I keep wondering though what you had to do to convince the giant manufacturers to put up with your strict standards when ordering only 100+ pieces. But this is what it takes to make a serious brand that may last beyond being startups.
Thank you so much Riva; it's genuinely appreciated. Haha about this, I am quite lucky to have a few influential friends in Beijing who believed in the project from the onset and convinced some of the manufacturers on our behalf! ;)

Robin, are you still on track to start shipping finished product in April? @Fandegrue
Hello!

Thus far, yes! It would be late April, but things are on track. We are talking with the suppliers very frequently to ensure that none of them is slacking and that production occurs as envisioned. Should a delay materialise (touching wood it does not), I would update everyone immediately. But we are doing our best to avoid such a situation!
 

Fandegrue

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Fandegrue

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Hello everyone!

This is not the kind of news that I am fond of, but, unfortunately, we will have a delay.

We did our best to ensure that we would be on time, and, today, most of the components are actually ready. The cases, casebacks, crystals, hands, movements, straps, buckles, leather pouches, and boxes are all completed and on their way to Fiyta for assembly. The only remaining parts that are not finished yet are the dials.

I do not want you to be under the impression that we have not made dials yet. In fact, we have already made three batches of those. Over the course of producing these thousands of pieces, we were able to get around 250 spotless white ones, which are now at our partner’s in charge of dial surface finish. The process will start by the end of this week.

What about the blue ones, then? In all fairness with you, each of them has either some faint black spots or streaks, and we can’t agree to deliver items with such imperfections. Some other brands would have accepted them (as our supplier had stressed many times), but for us, only a spotless product can fit the bill. We are committed to quality, and this is not a marketing gimmick. Sometimes, it can also mean taking some “painful” decisions.

These faint black spots and streaks are linked to both the pigment and the way the dial mould is. Because of the indexes that need to be applied, tiny needles are inserted in the mould so that there will be some very small holes on the porcelain disk to fix the markers. The liquid pigment is inserted in the mould at the same time as the porcelain mix and the small needles “disrupt” the flow of the pigment, meaning that its distribution is the not even.

The last batch of dials came out last Friday, and we had very strong hopes with it, as the factory had used an improved pigment formulation. We also knew that if this one was not adequate, we would need to find an alternative production technique. We thus went to Shenzhen to be able to witness the result and take care of the matter in person.

Upon discovering the disappointing result, we had a very long talk with our supplier to find out how to best resolve this urgent issue. Since the needles were the reason why the pigment would spread unevenly, we had to find a way around them somehow.

We are now making porcelain disks without any holes at first, and then, once they are ready, holes are pierced using laser. The strength of the laser cannot be too intense, otherwise, because the dials are substantially hard (zirconium oxyde porcelain), they would literally explode. This thus implies that the whole process is very lengthy… and therefore very costly. To be fully honest with you, the switch made the dial cost jump by 35%. But as I said before, we are committed to quality, and it sometimes means taking some painful decisions.

So, what are the next steps? The new dials will take roughly four weeks to make, so that will take us to mid May. They then need to go to the surface finish factory, which takes an additional one week and a half. The assembly (+ QC) then takes a further two weeks and a half, which brings us to mid June.

As for the Hao models, we will do our best to deliver them before we start dispatching the Ji. We are thus aiming for late may.

We will go to Shenzhen in person again around early May to ensure that things are going smoothly. As usual too, we will stay in very close contact with our dial supplier, and shall any significant news break in, you will be the first ones updated.

We are genuinely sorry for the long wait; like you, we can’t wait to deliver the watches. We are doing our best to ensure that it will take place as soon as possible, but what we want first and foremost is our watches to be spotless (and they will be so). Thank you for your patience; it is all worth it.

Have a nice day,

Robin.
 

Riva

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Hello everyone!

This is not the kind of news that I am fond of, but, unfortunately, we will have a delay.

We did our best to ensure that we would be on time, and, today, most of the components are actually ready. The cases, casebacks, crystals, hands, movements, straps, buckles, leather pouches, and boxes are all completed and on their way to Fiyta for assembly. The only remaining parts that are not finished yet are the dials.

I do not want you to be under the impression that we have not made dials yet. In fact, we have already made three batches of those. Over the course of producing these thousands of pieces, we were able to get around 250 spotless white ones, which are now at our partner’s in charge of dial surface finish. The process will start by the end of this week.

What about the blue ones, then? In all fairness with you, each of them has either some faint black spots or streaks, and we can’t agree to deliver items with such imperfections. Some other brands would have accepted them (as our supplier had stressed many times), but for us, only a spotless product can fit the bill. We are committed to quality, and this is not a marketing gimmick. Sometimes, it can also mean taking some “painful” decisions.

These faint black spots and streaks are linked to both the pigment and the way the dial mould is. Because of the indexes that need to be applied, tiny needles are inserted in the mould so that there will be some very small holes on the porcelain disk to fix the markers. The liquid pigment is inserted in the mould at the same time as the porcelain mix and the small needles “disrupt” the flow of the pigment, meaning that its distribution is the not even.

The last batch of dials came out last Friday, and we had very strong hopes with it, as the factory had used an improved pigment formulation. We also knew that if this one was not adequate, we would need to find an alternative production technique. We thus went to Shenzhen to be able to witness the result and take care of the matter in person.

Upon discovering the disappointing result, we had a very long talk with our supplier to find out how to best resolve this urgent issue. Since the needles were the reason why the pigment would spread unevenly, we had to find a way around them somehow.

We are now making porcelain disks without any holes at first, and then, once they are ready, holes are pierced using laser. The strength of the laser cannot be too intense, otherwise, because the dials are substantially hard (zirconium oxyde porcelain), they would literally explode. This thus implies that the whole process is very lengthy… and therefore very costly. To be fully honest with you, the switch made the dial cost jump by 35%. But as I said before, we are committed to quality, and it sometimes means taking some painful decisions.

So, what are the next steps? The new dials will take roughly four weeks to make, so that will take us to mid May. They then need to go to the surface finish factory, which takes an additional one week and a half. The assembly (+ QC) then takes a further two weeks and a half, which brings us to mid June.

As for the Hao models, we will do our best to deliver them before we start dispatching the Ji. We are thus aiming for late may.

We will go to Shenzhen in person again around early May to ensure that things are going smoothly. As usual too, we will stay in very close contact with our dial supplier, and shall any significant news break in, you will be the first ones updated.

We are genuinely sorry for the long wait; like you, we can’t wait to deliver the watches. We are doing our best to ensure that it will take place as soon as possible, but what we want first and foremost is our watches to be spotless (and they will be so). Thank you for your patience; it is all worth it.

Have a nice day,

Robin.
After all you've done to ensure every single component is perfect I'm willing to wait a few more months for a truly perfect product.
 

MrZBrown

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Hello everyone!

This is not the kind of news that I am fond of, but, unfortunately, we will have a delay.

We did our best to ensure that we would be on time, and, today, most of the components are actually ready. The cases, casebacks, crystals, hands, movements, straps, buckles, leather pouches, and boxes are all completed and on their way to Fiyta for assembly. The only remaining parts that are not finished yet are the dials.

I do not want you to be under the impression that we have not made dials yet. In fact, we have already made three batches of those. Over the course of producing these thousands of pieces, we were able to get around 250 spotless white ones, which are now at our partner’s in charge of dial surface finish. The process will start by the end of this week.

What about the blue ones, then? In all fairness with you, each of them has either some faint black spots or streaks, and we can’t agree to deliver items with such imperfections. Some other brands would have accepted them (as our supplier had stressed many times), but for us, only a spotless product can fit the bill. We are committed to quality, and this is not a marketing gimmick. Sometimes, it can also mean taking some “painful” decisions.

These faint black spots and streaks are linked to both the pigment and the way the dial mould is. Because of the indexes that need to be applied, tiny needles are inserted in the mould so that there will be some very small holes on the porcelain disk to fix the markers. The liquid pigment is inserted in the mould at the same time as the porcelain mix and the small needles “disrupt” the flow of the pigment, meaning that its distribution is the not even.

The last batch of dials came out last Friday, and we had very strong hopes with it, as the factory had used an improved pigment formulation. We also knew that if this one was not adequate, we would need to find an alternative production technique. We thus went to Shenzhen to be able to witness the result and take care of the matter in person.

Upon discovering the disappointing result, we had a very long talk with our supplier to find out how to best resolve this urgent issue. Since the needles were the reason why the pigment would spread unevenly, we had to find a way around them somehow.

We are now making porcelain disks without any holes at first, and then, once they are ready, holes are pierced using laser. The strength of the laser cannot be too intense, otherwise, because the dials are substantially hard (zirconium oxyde porcelain), they would literally explode. This thus implies that the whole process is very lengthy… and therefore very costly. To be fully honest with you, the switch made the dial cost jump by 35%. But as I said before, we are committed to quality, and it sometimes means taking some painful decisions.

So, what are the next steps? The new dials will take roughly four weeks to make, so that will take us to mid May. They then need to go to the surface finish factory, which takes an additional one week and a half. The assembly (+ QC) then takes a further two weeks and a half, which brings us to mid June.

As for the Hao models, we will do our best to deliver them before we start dispatching the Ji. We are thus aiming for late may.

We will go to Shenzhen in person again around early May to ensure that things are going smoothly. As usual too, we will stay in very close contact with our dial supplier, and shall any significant news break in, you will be the first ones updated.

We are genuinely sorry for the long wait; like you, we can’t wait to deliver the watches. We are doing our best to ensure that it will take place as soon as possible, but what we want first and foremost is our watches to be spotless (and they will be so). Thank you for your patience; it is all worth it.

Have a nice day,

Robin.
Thanks for the update. Its much better to be honest and let everyone know so we have an idea of what went wrong in the process. Did you have any picture you could share on the black spots/streaks? I think that would be really enlightening.

As for the delay, like Riva I would much prefer a well made watch over a rushed one, so take your time. These updates are useful in letting us know its not a sham kickstarter and because of that I am not particularly worried about the timeframe. Can't wait to get mine.
 

MrZBrown

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@Fandegrue Robin/Wilfred, I received my watch yesterday and its very very nice. Although I disagreed with you earlier about the cardboard box, I have to admit the box was excellent! The pouch was well done and the book was well received as well.
So before I get to the unboxing to share with the thread, here are couple pros and cons from day one.
Pros- that dial, wow. the leather strap and buckle are nice as well. The design on the caseback is awesome. The additions you made to the case sides and the brushed angles on the lugs help make the case feel less plain. the build quality seems great.
Cons - its a bit thicker than I expected. Still fits under a cuff even though its a dress casual instead of pure dress. I think I prefer the indices to be applied.

All in all a good value for a unique product from a brand that is doing a great job and I am happy to support. Good work guys, let your team in China they did well. And HK post didn't mess up delivery!

Here are some unboxing pics:
IMG_0008.jpg
IMG_0009.jpg
IMG_0010.jpg
IMG_0011.jpg
IMG_0012.jpg
IMG_0013.jpg
IMG_0014.jpg
IMG_0016.jpg
IMG_0022.jpg
 

WilYa

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@Fandegrue Robin/Wilfred, I received my watch yesterday and its very very nice. Although I disagreed with you earlier about the cardboard box, I have to admit the box was excellent! The pouch was well done and the book was well received as well.
So before I get to the unboxing to share with the thread, here are couple pros and cons from day one.
Pros- that dial, wow. the leather strap and buckle are nice as well. The design on the caseback is awesome. The additions you made to the case sides and the brushed angles on the lugs help make the case feel less plain. the build quality seems great.
Cons - its a bit thicker than I expected. Still fits under a cuff even though its a dress casual instead of pure dress. I think I prefer the indices to be applied.

All in all a good value for a unique product from a brand that is doing a great job and I am happy to support. Good work guys, let your team in China they did well. And HK post didn't mess up delivery!

Here are some unboxing pics:
View attachment 1191095View attachment 1191096View attachment 1191097View attachment 1191098View attachment 1191099View attachment 1191100View attachment 1191101View attachment 1191102View attachment 1191103
Looking awesome! I agree that it doesnt look slim enough for a dress watch.
 

MrZBrown

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Its give or take 12mm which is fine for dress casual, but not a pure dress watch. Although I dont think they were going for a dress watch exactly either. It just surprised me how thick it was. Still worth it and still well made.
 

WhyUEarly

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Received my Hao yesterday and finally got around to unpacking. My first reaction was Wow! My expectations were definitely exceeded. The leather pouch and box were impeccable. The dial is STUNNING, definitely better in person, as cliche as that statement is. Look at that buckle. It's a great watch at any price. The only shortfall as I mentioned a while ago is the case design. No issues on workmanship or execution. Just that the case design does not elevate the watch, merely decent.

20190613_230617.jpg
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