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Atelier Wen – A Brand Bold Enough For The Challenge

By Daniel Yong


In a sea of brands popping up all over social media, one can easily get lost in the many offerings. To be honest with you, there are so many new companies out there attempting to execute something different but unfortunately fail to do so. Writing made up history to back up their watch designs and paying for advertisements that feel like they are being shoved down the throats of unsuspecting viewers. Yes, it’s true, it can get pretty damn annoying how certain platforms execute their marketing ploys. Like come on man, I just want to stalk my friends in peace, not be lured into your random ads on Instagram. So what makes Atelier Wen so special then? Why do they stand out? I’ll attempt to answer this in three sections. First, their daring attitude to debunk stereotypes against Chinese manufacturing through their quality watches. Their ability to collaborate across two cultures and create beautiful things. And finally, why Atelier Wen offers extremely competitive watches in a crowded market.



Brave enough to challenge assumptions


First of all, I’m not going to lie, this article may or may not show signs of bias. I’ll make it clear that I am of Chinese heritage (although I can’t speak any dialects to save my life) and this brand excites me. Why? I’m all about the little guy taking on the big guy. I tend to overuse the David and Goliath story but stuff it, I’ll use it again. Similar to the story of Grand Seiko, there are certain parallels with the narrative of Atelier Wen and what they are setting out to achieve. So let’s rewind the clock and get back to the origins of the company. Two French dudes, Robin and his mate Wilfred, both of who have strong ties to China, decided to create beautiful watches that celebrate Chinese watchmaking. Now they don’t assume to be experts in Chinese design, but they sure as heck know where to source people who do. This is where designers Liu Yuguan and Li Mingliang come in. Two gentlemen, whose skillset was forged out of one of China’s finest design academies and possess a specialty in watch design and traditional Chinese art.



Unlike some brands who keep this information hidden, they are proud to share this. And this is where they stand out above the rest. They are honest. They just want to make good quality watches and are extremely proud of it being made in China. The boys explain it better than I could, so here’s a quote straight from their site’s homepage, “China’s horological tradition goes back over 1000 years and Chinese watchmakers today are actually supplying many supposedly Western brands. We don’t believe in branding tricks and that’s why we decided to create items that truly celebrate Chinese culture, craft and watchmaking”.




Two cultures working together


As an educator myself, something that I hold dear in classrooms, is instilling an appreciation for culture and the ability to collaborate with others. I love that brands are proud of their national identity. But imagine if some of the bigger brands collaborated across borders, I wonder what masterpieces they could create? Now you might be wondering where the brand’s name comes from. Atelier Wen? Why not just Wen if it’s a brand that’s supposed to celebrate Chinese watchmaking? According to the founders, if they were simply branded as Wen, customers might be alarmed to realise that the brand is actually run by two French guys. They believe that this might cause potential customers to feel tricked and so therefore, combined words from both the French and Chinese language, to pen the company’s brand name. Atelier, French for workshop. And Wen, Chinese for culture. The name also pays respect to the collaboration between Robin, Wilfred, Liu and Li.


In terms of the watches, you can clearly see where the dials draw their inspiration from. If we explore the Hao (white model) for example, you have the Chinese elements in the white porcelain dial with blue accents inspired by Qinghua Ci porcelains. If you zoom into the seconds sub-dial, you’ll also notice that there are two characters, Mao located at the bottom right and You, top left. These characters represent 5 am to 7 am and 5 pm to 7 pm indicating sunrise and sunset. This sweet little detail is borrowed from the traditional time measurement system called the Earthly Branches.




Enormous value


Now as much as I love the design elements and reasoning behind the brand, value for money is what would influence us to draw out our credit cards. You might be thinking, “Oh shut up already Daniel, how much are these things?” Okay let’s get straight down to business. These pieces will offer you a well-executed porcelain dial, heated blue hands and a beautifully polished steel case with a solid movement. No, not $10 000 USD. Try $720 USD. Trust me, I’m pleased to say that I didn’t forget to add a digit. I can tell you right now, I’m yet to see another brand offer a porcelain dial for under a grand. But hey, if you’re a brand junkie and care about logos, I’d probably say that Atelier Wen may not be for you. But if you want a watch designed and crafted by people who love and believe in what they do, then consider a watch by Atelier Wen today.



Follow Atelier Wen on Instagram now @atelierwenluxury


Model: Hao

Case: Stainless Steel 39 mm

Movement: Liaoning Peacock SL-3006 (+/- 10 s/d accuracy)

Dial: White Porcelain

Hands: Heat-blued

Lens: Sapphire with A/R

Water Resistance: 5 atm

Lug Width: 20 mm

Thickness: 11.7 mm


Model: Ji

Case: Stainless Steel 39 mm

Movement: Liaoning Peacock SL-3006 (+/- 10 s/d accuracy)

Dial: Blue Porcelain

Hands: Rhodium-plated

Lens: Sapphire with A/R

Water Resistance: 5 atm

Lug Width: 20 mm

Thickness: 11.7 mm

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