The Chronoswiss SkelTec collection is celebrated for its extremely reduced, hand-wound movement with an open balance wheel and its organically shaped case with skeletonised lugs. With royal blue colouration added on the new model called SkelTec Azur, the sky is the limit.
You could easily mistake the SkelTec Azur for the crescendo of a horological striptease revealing sensually ticking mechanics. But it is more than just a pleasing package. The 166-part hand-wound C. 304 movement is a modern mechanical marvel with an X-shaped monobloc construction vertically aligning the timekeeping with the open balance wheel while surrounded by contemporary twists on one of the most royal of colours there ever was – that of a sky without clouds. Historically symbolising loyalty, strength, wisdom and trust, this hue is widely associated with one of Picasso’s artistic periods (1901-4) as well as Cleopatra’s eyeshadow. This intense blue was achieved in the past by pulverising the mineral azurite and mixing it with oil to various viscosities. “Here at Chronoswiss we chose to create this ancient hue in a contemporary way by using chemical vapour deposition”, says Chronoswiss head of design Maik Panziera.
The extremely minimalist dial is held in place by four bridges in the shape of perimeter triangles placed at 11, 1, 5 and 7. The black central X gets its matt finish from a chrome coating – a dramatic backdrop to the white lacquered hour and minute hands filled in with Super-LumiNova providing a discreet green lustre in the night. The star-shaped roof of the mainspring barrel, the moving wheels and pivoting pins are plated with rhodium, the extremely stable and corrosion-resistant noble metal with the atomic number 45. Through the screwed-down case back with sapphire crystal with double anti-reflection treatment you will see a more classical approach to decoration. One example: the dexterously stretched out spring doing the horological equivalent of a three-legged splits. Equally eye-catching is its satin-brushed finish, with chamfered, polished angles.
The design of the SkelTec case features organic free-flowing forms, which reflect the fluidity of time itself. The sculptural curves of the crown guards exemplify this design approach, which crescendos in the sensually hollowed-out lugs. When these revolutionary elements come together, the overall look is delicate, yet bulletproof, while maintaining the iconic Chronoswiss signifiers. “I love the SkelTec case,” says Panziera. “The architecture of it really pushes the limits of what is possible with a five-axis CNC machine, while also celebrating old-school horology. This is the modern mechanical approach.” The strap in calfskin and textile is developed especially for the SkelTec collection, while using Chronoswiss screwed-in lugs with the patented Autobloc system.
The chemical, yet playful interpretation of stunningly colourful minerals also has a link back to Panziera’s childhood – back then he was, in his own words, “a nerdy mineral hunter.” “On weekends I always went out with a hammer and chisel, and my cupboard was – to my mother’s horror – full of stones,” he laughs before examining the SkelTec Azur, using the loupe to look closer. “I was always fascinated by Azurit. It is such a spell-binding blue used for the coats of arms of countless royal dynasties. By using modern nano-technology Chronoswiss is able to create the same kind of intensity in the blue details of SkelTec Azur. This is our way of honouring history in a modern mechanical way.”