Alexandre Meerson’s Altitude Collection: Skeptical To Believer
by Martin Green
Highly skeptical was what I was before my first presentation of the Alexandre Meerson Altitude. To me, this felt like a small new brand wanting to waltz into a market dominated by venerated old names with sky-high reputations.
Good luck with that, I thought.
It turned out that Alexandre Meerson didn’t need any luck, just his sense of style and understanding of the watch industry. Although I have a deep (and eclectic) love for all types of watches, at heart I’m a Cartier and Piaget guy. These are my benchmarks, especially when it comes to dress watches.
To my surprise, though, I have to say that the Meerson watches did not disappoint me. To the contrary: I was actually quite impressed by the sense of dramatic subtleties and eye for detail these watches put on display.
The two-hand Première represents in many ways the essential dress watch, yet in a slightly more contemporary way. It combines a unique, but relatively simple round case with a sober dial. A Savile Row tailor once told me that the biggest insult to his work was if a client walked out of his shop and got complimented on his new suit.
It was his understanding that the suit he made should fit so well that people would assume it has been part of the client’s wardrobe for some time.Dark and light dial versions of the Alexandre Meerson Altitude Première with date
The Altitude Première can proudly boast that same attitude. Meerson avoided the temptation that many new brands succumb to: making a lot of buzz by going over the top in design. The result is an understated composition that seems to naturally take its place in the establishment.
As always, it is the small details that make the difference. Like the velvety color of the dial or the slight asymmetry of the hands. The subtle difference in play of light that the latter provides elevates the entire watch.
Meerson understands that true luxury is in the details. This is also why you don’t simply buy an Altitude Première or Officier. You have one built for you.
From different dial colors to case finishes, it’s the client who ultimately determines how his or her Altitude will look. This is an experience very similar to going to a tailor and personally selecting the design, fabric, and finishing touches of a new suit.
Actually, to some extent buying a Meerson is really like going to your tailor because when you purchase your Altitude, you can actually have your wrist measured for a handcrafted strap for your new watch. The brand has an impressive array of leathers for you to choose from, which include more exotic choices like wolf fish and Nile perch alongside the more conventional Mississippi alligator and Barenia calfskin.
These days the rich and famous simply order a Bentley Bentayga to conquer the world. But do you remember the old days when gentlemen would actually outfit a Rolls-Royce to race from Peking to Paris? Meerson has captured that sense of stylish adventure in the Altitude Officer.Alexandre Meerson Altitude Première with blue dial
The railroad track, baton hands, and elegantly crafted numeral(s) come together in a stylish, and very British, sense of purpose. The version with subsidiary seconds resonates with this feeling the most: driving your Rolls on the dirt roads of Mongolia in your three piece suit tailored on Savile Row just for this occasion, of course.
The time-only version is for the evenings when, far from civilization, the star-studded sky falls over you like a blanket and time loses most of its meaning. The Altitude Officier with date is for either Peking or Paris – where civilization surrounds you and its pace impacts your own.
Do we need the date?
I am not quite as excited about the date versions of both the Première and Officier. These complications are as well incorporated in the overall design as you can expect, and on par with benchmark dress watches by Patek Philippe and Piaget, but as I also prefer my Calatrava or Altiplano without a date window. I feel the same with the Meerson.
The design of these timepieces is so pure, so polished to perfection, that no matter how well designed and executed it is, a date does take away from that purity.Alexandre Meerson Altitude Première in pink gold
Meerson uses a Vaucher Manufacture Fleurier caliber to power the Altitude, which is an elegant choice. It features automatic winding, modern 4 Hz frequency, and a power reserve of 50 hours thanks to two spring barrels operating in series.
The movement’s height of only 3.7 mm it allows the Altitude to be housed in a slender case 41 mm in diameter by only 8.6 mm high. On the wrist, the Altitude shows less attitude than its diameter would indicate, and it wears more like a 38 mm thanks to its svelte height.
So it’s fair to say that I went from being a skeptic to becoming a believer. Meerson has convinced me that he knows the essence of luxury, and the Altitude collection is aimed right at the sweet spot of it.
This watch breaks away from the establishment without giving up its place in the establishment, and that is quite an impressive accomplishment.Alexandre Meerson Altitude Première with blue dial
For more information please visit www.meerson.com.
Case: 41 x 8.59 mm, titanium or pink gold
Movement: automatic Vaucher Caliber AM4808 with 50 hours’ power reserve thanks to twin serially operating spring barrels
Functions: hours, minutes; optional subsidiary seconds and/or date
Retail price: starting at $10,900 excluding tax