In Focus Watches

Simon Brette is the Breakout Independent Watchmaker to Watch

Simon BretteChronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition

If you spotted an interesting watch winning the 2023 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève prize for Horological Revelation and didn’t recognise the name, you’re not alone. That’s because Simon Brette is one of the most exciting new independent watch brands to emerge across the last few years. Conceived in 2021, the brand, which consists of movement designer Simon Brette and a team of artisans, developed their debut project for two years prior to its release last year. That watch is the Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition, a three-hand beauty in titanium, steel, gold and zirconium.

Simon Brette

While Simon Brette as a brand are one of the major breakout stars of modern horology, Simon Brette the person is an industry veteran whose work you’re probably familiar with to some degree, even if you have never heard of him. After completing his engineering studies in 2011, he joined renowned watchmaker Jean-François Mojon’s movement conception and development company Chronode, before moving on to MCT and most recently MB&F as Development Project Manager. As you can imagine, being in charge of MB&F’s movement R&D is quite the important job.

Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition Sketch

It was the birth of his daughter in 2021, as well as a connection to his father, an independent carpenter, that led Simon to take the plunge and establish an independent brand of his own. And he’s brought with him all of that experience as a manager of highly skilled craftspeople and being one of the foremost minds in horological development. Although one thing he hasn’t brought with him is the avant-garde, hyper modern, futuristic aesthetic of MB&F, instead favouring more classical designs and techniques.

Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition
Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition

This emphasis on tradition puts the brand in a similar bracket of high-end, classical watchmaking to brands like Ferdinand Berthoud or Simon’s personal inspirations such as Urban Jurgensen, George Daniels and Derek Pratt. All of which is well and good to say, but why did the Chronomètre Artisans win a GPHG award?

Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition Caseback

Normally we’d start by looking at a watch’s dial but with this timepiece, it’s probably worth starting with the view through the exhibition caseback. It’s a beautifully organised and relatively understated layout of components with a gorgeous line of symmetry running horizontally through the piece. The four main mechanisms on display are the duo of concave power reserve barrels, large and unobstructed balance wheel and lastly the winding mechanism. It’s this that is regarded as the technical highlight of the piece, as Simon developed an updated version of what is often a rarely revised mechanism that provides a much more responsive feel while winding in addition to reducing the number of components involved.

Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition

Turning to the dial side, you can see the gorgeous ‘dragon scale’ pattern gold mosaic decoration, which flows like a river around the asymmetrical open worked apertures. On the left towards nine o’clock you have the rest of the balance mechanism that you can’t see from the caseback side, as well as the open gear for the seconds hand. At three o’clock you have a function that’s rarely highlighted, the crown mechanism that shows whether the crown is set to time setting or winding.

Simon Brette Chronomètre Artisans Subscription Edition

The combination of a world class movement and classical case executed by a team of independent artisans makes for a potent combination. The Chronomètre Artisans really is a breakout piece of horology that has brought the Simon Brette name out from the research departments and onto the main stage of the watch industry in a big way. After more than a decade, Brette is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

More details at Simon Brette.

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About the author

Michael Sonsino

As Digital Editor for Oracle Time, Michael needs an eye for detail, which makes it a good thing that his twin joys in life are miniatures and watches. He's a lifelong fan of fine timepieces, especially those of a more historic nature - if it has a twist of Art Deco, all the better. Recent purchase: Seiko Prospex 1959 Alpinist Modern Re-Interpretation. Grail watch: Vacheron Constantin Historiques American 1921.