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Atelier Wen plants Franco/Chinese flag in the heart of Geneva’s watchmaking establishment

Watchmaker will be demonstrating how it is preserving traditional crafts at its Beau Rivage Hotel presentation.

Atelier Wen is flying the flag for Chinese watchmaking from an exhibition at the Beau Rivage Hotel on the banks of Lake Geneva.

Taking up residence in one of Switzerland’s most venerable hotels is a signal that the watchmaker wants to be judged among its peers at the heart of the country’s industry.

Atelier Wen aims to tackle the stigma of manufacturing in China. Even its name is an olive branch to the Swiss — combining the French word for workshop, Atelier, with the Chinese word for culture, Wen (文).

The brand’s co-founders, Robin Tallendier and Wilfried Buiron, are both French with deep connections to China, and are determined to blend Chinese and French culture, art and engineering in their watches.

“At Atelier Wen, we have made it our mission to celebrate and elevate the global perceptions of Chinese culture and craftsmanship. Through our partnerships with some of the finest artisans, artists, designers and watchmakers in all of China, we seek to push the boundaries of what Chinese watchmaking can be. In collaborating with these individuals, we aim to breathe life back into forgotten Chinese crafts, inspiring a new generation of undeniably-Chinese style and watchmaking artistry,” Mr Tallendier says.

Atelier Wen’s first collection focused on the production of art on perfect porcelain for the dials of its Porcelain Odyssey watches.

That line has now been discontinued as the business focuses on its more sporty Perception family, which showcases hand-turned guilloché work by China’s only master craftsman in the art, Cheng Yucai.

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Atelier Wen invested in the artist’s studio, which has allowed him to train several students and set up an academy to teach the guilloche technique.

Mr Cheng is heading to Geneva to demonstrate his craft in the heart of Geneva. He will be turning dials live at the Beau-Rivage, which will then be used in complete watches that will be inscribed, playfully, with Crafted in Geneva.

Each dial takes most of a day to create, so only a handful of these special editions will be made. The first is expected to be auctioned with proceeds from the sale invested back into preserving culture and craftsmanship in China.

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