Michel Perchin Timepiece #1: From Pens To Watches, Elegance Reigns
by Nancy Olson
I first met Patrick Pinkston more than two decades ago, shortly after he founded the luxury brand Michel Perchin, which at that time was offering some extremely elegant – and commensurately pricey – pens.
Pinkston named his company after the goldsmith who headed Peter Carl Fabergé’s workshop from 1885 to 1903, Perchin’s style setting the tone for his company’s designs. Perchin, the so-called Fabergé workmaster, was responsible for a number of Fabergé’s famed Imperial Eggs, and Pinkston’s pens were an homage to his aesthetic comprising enamel, guilloche, and gemstones.
Pinkston sold the pen business in 2004, but as a self-described designer who views the world through his own creative lens, the ideas kept coming, and he was ready for a new challenge for his St. Louis-based firm. So he turned his attention to watches.
As an aside, he also enjoyed a somewhat successful – even making it to Redbox – foray into screenwriting between the pens and the watches.
“I draw my inspiration from many different areas including the decorative arts, architecture, nature, automobiles, and life,” Pinkston explains, adding that he strives to take everyday things – like a watch or a pen or even an experience or observation – and elevate them to a work of art.
Pinkston’s background in making precious metal and enamel pens didn’t hurt his quest to create a like-minded timepiece since he had learned his way around producing luxury accessories, and he understood the gumption it takes to make things happen. He also knew where to turn for the quality and craftsmanship he was looking for in the watch’s construction.
For the Michel Perchin Model #1, Pinkston – who sketches his own designs – sought the talent of a small, but well-versed, goldsmith workshop in the United Kingdom that, as he describes, “literally fabricates one case at a time.” There, each 36 by 55 mm white gold case is hand-finished and -engraved.
“While designing a piece I go through many different drawings, as I do it all by hand,” says Pinkston. “Each step is copied so I can consider several possible additions before finding the perfect one.”
The enameling is also done in England. There, each dial is decorated on the front in a flowing ice-blue “drapery” pattern that accentuates the guilloche beneath.
The back of the dial is coated as well, and this counter enameling allows the hot material to cool more evenly, thus staving off cracking, Pinkston explains.
Two sides of the case are finished with swaths of ice-blue translucent enamel, while white opaque enamel frames the bezel.
The dial features bezel-set diamond hour markers at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. The Michel Perchin logo in 18-karat gold replaces the 12 o’clock marker, while delicate skeletonized sword-shaped hands mark the hours and minutes.
A subtle diamond flourish accentuates the case’s four corners, and a blue cabochon finishes the crown. Beyond these, the front of the watch is devoid of any other decoration. And this, I think, is a good thing. There’s just enough going on.
The solid white gold case back is engraved with the Michel Perchin name and logo, “Handmade in England,” the requisite English hallmarks, and the limitation number of the watch within the edition of five timepieces.
The case back may be personalized with an engraved message or initials. The choice of a dark blue leather strap is a smart one, since it complements the dial while allowing it to take center stage – as it should.
A modified Vaucher VMF 3002/H,M automatic movement – 25.6 mm in diameter and 3.7 mm in height – powers the hours and minutes.
The Vaucher movement has 28 jewels, a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour, and a power reserve of 50 hours, thanks in part to its double barrel. U.S. master watchmaker Craig Stone of the Illinois Watch Co. in Quincy, IL, assembles, tests, and calibrates each watch.
Future designs will include Michel Perchin’s signature enamel dials in varying colors paired with white, yellow, or pink gold cases. Each variation will be a five-piece limited edition.
For more information please visit www.mpwatch.org.
Quick Facts Michel Perchin Model #1
Case: 55 x 36 mm, white gold and enamel
Movement: automatic VMF 3002 /H,M, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, variable inertia balance
Functions: hours, minutes
Limitation: 5 pieces