Chopin Opus 10 No. 12: The First ‘Etude’ By A Musically Inspired Independent Brand From Poland
There is a new watch brand on the scene from an unexpected place: Poland. My home country might be well known for its fine spirits, excellent cuisine, expansive nature, and exceptional hospitality.
But watchmaking? Not so much (if at all).
And to be perfectly frank, the new Chopin brand will not make Poland known as a watchmaking country either (as the watch is not made here, but rather in Switzerland).
But this new watch certainly deserves some attention.
Chopin Opus 10 No. 12: background
The new Chopin brand is dedicated to the famous composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin, who was born in Żelazowa Wola on March 1, 1810. When he died in Paris on October 17, 1849 he was only 39. But in that short time span, he became a legendary music composer, one of the best in the annals of music history.
Chopin was based in or near Paris for most of his professional life, but he also had an important period in Poland, including Warsaw where he moved with his parents when he was only a few months old.
It is here in Warsaw that a great museum and musical institute bear his name, and within its vaults there is a pocket watch little ten-year-old Fryderyk Chopin received from his piano teacher Angelica Catalani. While this is likely the only connection the composer had to horology during his lifetime, it was a good enough one to inspire a fresh new watch brand named for the great composer.
Created by the same group of young entrepreneurs behind the small, affordable brand Błonie, this new project represents by far the most advanced watch by a Polish company in quite some time. It is meant to be the start of a great new adventure.
The timepiece issuing as the debut is linked to Chopin’s Étude Op. 10 No. 12 in C minor, famously known as the “Revolutionary Étude.”
How the Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 came together
Chopin’s team, led by Michał Dunin, had a clear vision of how the first timepiece should look, but due to Poland’s limited horological resources they turned to Switzerland. The watch’s interesting looks were conceived with famous Swiss designer Antoine Tschumi, founder and director of the NeoDesis studio.
What came out of that collaboration is a watch packed with musical motifs, subtly paying homage to its spiritual patron.
A large but comfortably wearable 43 mm case of stainless steel has longish, curved lugs vaguely shaped like the legs of a piano. Polished (no pun intended) case sides present a thin guilloche case band that takes its pattern from the aforementioned pocket watch belonging to Chopin. Sapphire crystal protects both sides of the watch.
The dial of Chopin’s Opus 10 No. 12 has a lot going on, but that’s due to the choice of making it a semi-openworked face offering a view of the movement underneath.
The piano keys-shaped power reserve indicator at 9 o’clock presents a prominent musical theme. The rest is quite modernly classic with central minute and hour hands in blued steel, blued steel hour markers (including the highly symbolic Arabic numerals 10 and 12), and small seconds at 6 o’clock.
That subdial is also adorned with the name of the model and a small, interesting detail not seen elsewhere: a red rim encircling the subdial made of carnelian, which represents Chopin’s heart currently at rest in Warsaw’s Holy Cross Church.
Mechanical heart of the Chopin Opus 10 No. 12
The Opus 10 No. 12’s own heart is Polish-Swiss, beating with the help of the well-known Schwarz Etienne manufacture from La Chaux-de-Fonds.
This old family-owned movement maker might not be the first one that jumps to mind when thinking of mechanical calibers, but it does have the reputation and skills necessary to make a high-grade bespoke mechanism (Schwarz Etienne has also made movements for Ming Watches).
Hand-wound Caliber MSE210 boasts 96 hours of power reserve thanks to twin serially operating spring barrels, one of which is inscribed with an engraved Chopin quote reading, “Time is the best censor and patience the most perfect of teachers.” The other is engraved with important dates in Chopin’s life.
Also noticeable on the plates is an engraved sentence from a letter Chopin wrote just after the November Uprising in Poland ended on October 21, 1831.
And there is one more dedicated element to the great composer, inspired by Chopin’s above-mentioned heart: a red balance wheel. It took Schwarz Etienne months to develop the coating correctly to create a balance wheel like that, but the result was definitely worth the effort.
Each watch is presented in an attractive wooden box, hand-crafted in Poland.
For more information, please visit www.chopinwatches.com.
Quick Facts Chopin Opus 10 No. 12
Case: 43 mm; stainless steel
Movement: manually wound Caliber MSE210 made by Schwarz Etienne; 96-hour power reserve; 21,600 vph/3 Hz frequency, twin serially operating spring barrels
Functions: hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds; power reserve
Limitation: 56 pieces
Price: €12,750/14,500 Swiss francs