Since the advent of wearable personal horology, very few constants of watch making have endured the passing of years and remained virtually unchanged, due to their perceived necessity, throughout the ages. Despite the often breath-taking complications achieved by those watch making visionaries, whose boundaries were defined not by what seemed to be technically possible at their time, but by the scope of their imaginations, most complicated watches still required the basics of at least two hands which point to the time, a method of adjusting the position of the hands so as to bring the timepiece to the correct time and a means to re-energize the mechanical movement which powered those hands.
Although it is true that the classic pointing hands have on occasion been replaced successfully, the simple device required to adjust the time and wind the movement has, for the greater part, remained ever-present and virtually unchanged across the generations. Almost every mechanical timepiece has had a crown; an arrangement which was both technically effective and simple enough to be user friendly.
The stunning timepiece collections which emerge from the workshop of AHCI member Marc Jenni are the direct result of a man, driven to embrace the challenge presented by tackling the technical and styling constraints of the long-accepted crown system, ultimately creating a beautifully simple solution to the problems he encountered in his pursuit of his increasingly familiar crownless watches.
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Emanating in an evolutionary arc whose genealogy lies a few years back with his sublime debut, the 2010 Marc Jenni Prologue – the scene-setting ‘foreword’ of the Marc Jenni name – and borne through the following year’s planetary JJJ ‘chapter’ in which he pays tribute to his watch making ancestor, the acclaimed young watchmaker has advanced his unique concept one step further by announcing the arrival of his latest ‘passage’ of work – the delightful and engaging Marc Jenni Arch Collection.
As with it's predecessors, which at first glance bemuse the eye with the absence of the assumed protocol of the traditional side-mounted crown, the new Marc Jenni Arch assuredly carries her parentage forward to embrace a new audience for his work.
In a delightful twist, the technical challenges faced by the watch maker in the pursuit of his lateral winding concept – which, through the absence of a crown, disguises any obvious clue as to how one might set about adjusting the time and date functions - so he presents those unfamiliar with the piece with something of a quandary of their own, albeit one with a very simple explanation as the functionality becomes apparent.
Although the lineage is clear, the new Marc Jenni Arch is distinguishable from her predecessor via the application of softer, more feminine design cues, such as the sensitive placing of diamonds for hour markers and detail, the swooping ‘arch’ device, the skeletal arch-inspired hands and the subtle yet very functional use of colour.
Central and exclusive to the Marc Jenni philosophy is the ingenious lateral winding ‘turning ring’ mechanism, which at first glance might appear to be a seamless part of the watch case, and selector pusher at the four o’clock position, the combined use of which enable the adjustment of time and date as well as the winding of the automatic movement.
Replacing the crown with the turning ring has liberated the watch maker from what is considered to be classic watch design, and this freedom means that the new Marc Jenni Arch is a scintillating combination of fluid, flowing lines, uncluttered styling and gentle motion, as the polished turning ring smoothly glides on it’s journey around the 18Kt white gold watch case as it passes gracefully beneath the arch of the lugs.
Set against the linear slot decoration on the silver opalin dial, the most prominent feature on the face of the watch is the Arch itself, but this is much more than a pleasant aesthetic diversion; it is in fact comprised of three distinct elements; the two overlocking ‘bows’ of the arch and a base of three diamond ‘ramparts’. Each bow a different colour, and each one of these particular to one of the three selectable functions; winding, time and date.
Within the Arch is a centrally located pointer, the position of which indicates the selected function, for it is controlled through the selector pusher and rotates through 360 degrees to specify that the watch is in ‘time’ or ‘date’ correction mode, or at it’s rest position, pointing straight down at the diamond ‘ramparts’ while in the ‘wind’ position.
And it is in the function selection that the use of colour comes into play as, ingeniously, or perhaps somewhat playfully, Marc Jenni has integrated a subtle colour code to define each position of the selector hand relative to a function instead of using text as on the previous Prologue collection.
On pressing the selector button once, the rhodium plated indicator in the centre of the arch jumps to point at the grey bow – the same colour as the date disk – which represents the date adjustment setting. Another push of the button and the hand jumps again to rest before the blue arch – the same colour as the hours, minutes and seconds hands – to denote that the time can be corrected, before one final push which brings the little hand full circle to point once more at the black diamond ramparts at the base of the arch. The power reserve indicator hand being black, so it follows that the diamond ramparts are synonymous with the winding setting.
The Marc Jenni Arch Collection - Summer
Enrobed in a 44mm polished 18Kt white gold case and featuring a sapphire crystal exhibiton caseback - through which can be observed the 22Kt oscillating mass, the design of which itself perpetuates a centuries-old family coat of arms going back to 1780 when Jenni’s descendant , Johan Jakob Jenni, was a watchmaker by profession - the Marc Jenni Arch collection is a melody of ingenuity and reserve, a perfect balance between sophistication and complication. With his non-conformist approach to age-old practices, Marc Jenni’s works represent modernity borne out of tradition, and this is a trait which can be traced back to his long-departed watch making ancestor, almost 250 years ago.
Marc Jenni’s new Arch collection comprises of four elegant models, each one inspired by the four seasons and each defined by colour combinations associated with that season. First to make it’s debut will be the ‘Snowflake’ edition, with white alligator strap with 18Kt white gold folding deployant clasp, Subsequent variations will be the ‘Spring Haze’ with it’s light green and yellow overtones, ‘Sunburst’ representing Summer with vivid red, and finally, with autumnal shades of ochre and light browns the ‘Indian Summer’ version.
As beautiful as they are technically excellent and as clever as they are simple, watch maker Marc Jenni is delighted to invite you to inspect his fabulous new Arch collection of stunning ladies timepieces.
Case: 44mm 18Kt white gold with turning ring mechanism and selector pusher at the 4 o’clock position, Sapphire crystal with exhibition caseback
Strap and clasp; Finest alligator strap with 18Kt folding deployant clasp
Dial: Silver opaline with linear slot decoration, diamond hour markers, skeletal oxidised blue steel hands
Features: Power reserve indicator near the 9 o’clock position, Wind, date, time indicator near the 3, date aperture between the 7 and 8 positions
Movement: Calibre 2010 automatic self winding movement with lateral winding and lateral time/date adjustment
Function: Hours, minutes, seconds, date