As managing director of Macrorich Metro, the stylish Nonthiwat Prabhananda is the Thailand distributor for Frederique Constant and Alpina watches. So it's hardly surprising that he's often seen sporting a wristwatch from one of these Geneva-based firms.
A recent addition to his portfolio of imported luxuries, Ateliers deMonaco was launched here only last month during the Central International Watch Fair, which saw the unveiling of opulent models from this brand like the Grand Tourbillon Carre d'Or (retailing for a cool 6.2 million baht).
Its country of origin is obvious in the name and this was apparently one of the reasons why Nonthiwat was converted into a committed fan.
Miss Universe 2005 Natalie Glebova and Kathaleeya Krajangnate model Ateliers deMonaco timepieces.
"The brand is inspired by Monaco, a unique point of origin," he said, "The sovereign state of Monaco is renowned for its constitutional monarchy, artistic heritage, beautiful architecture, splendid scenery, the prestigious Formula 1 race, Monte Carlo and the glamorous and luxurious lifestyles of its people." Monaco charms with a distinct look and feel and it can sometimes be viewed as a world of opposites: the city-state's Belle Epoque architecture is interrupted by modern high-rises and it is located next to the the azure waters of the Mediterranean which contrast greatly with the formations of sharp brown rock on which the principality is built.
This dualism has been captured in Ateliers deMonaco's designs as seen in the case, whose straight lines contrast with the convex curves of the interior and exterior panels. Another appealing instance of opposites is the use of contrasting materials and finishings for the dial.
The brand's debut in 2009 coincided with the emergence of the so-called Nouvelle Horlogerie (French for "new watch-making") concept, the idea of offering an iconic timepiece equipped with a movement designed in-house.
"The Haute Horlogerie concept refers to using sophisticated techniques in developing a movement," Nonthiwat explained. "But Nouvelle Horlogerie is different in that it challenges existing conventions with innovative creations which make use of the latest technology, materials and production techniques." Ateliers deMonaco has patented several innovative mechanical timepieces whose lucky owners tend to regard them as precious hand-made works of art.
The Grand Tourbillon Carre d'Or, for instance, comes in a unique square casing which consists of 33 hand-assembled components. This made it possible to present different finishings like finely brushed surfaces and contrasting hand-polished edges. The transparent back of the case highlights the mechanical movement, hand-wrought decorations and gold rotor.
The watch is fitted with a movement called the Grand Tourbillon XP1 which features "extreme precision" technology allowing its 28,800 beats an hour to be translated into supreme accuracy.
Another signature component is the sapphire tourbillion bridge which is intended to echo the sensation of floating, often described by visitors as they stroll along Monaco's rocky coastline.
Conventional manufacturing technology is unable to produce small, precise parts from sapphire, but the use of laser-cutting allows for precision as well as the finishing required for the creation of a wonderfully transparent effect. Traditional hand-finishing involves more than 120 hours of highly skilled craftsmanship that gives each watch its unique look and feel.
Other intriguing models from Ateliers deMonaco include the Carre d'Or Squelette Tourbillon Minute Repeater, with its hand-cut, open dial enabling one to see the hand-engraved movement, and the Ronde d'Or, which comes in a round, ultra-light titanium case with 18K gold side panels.
"Watch collectors, who are into technique and mechanics, would value deMonaco for its smart innovations and extreme precision," Nonthiwat enthused. "And those who are into arts and crafts will appreciate the elaborate craftsmanship from these experienced artisans."
Only a limited number of these precious timepieces are produced, however. For instance, the Carre d'Or Squelette, which is a special edition release, has a total manufacturing run of only eight pieces.
The Carre d’Or comes in a unique square case with a transparent back which reveals its Grand Tourbillon XP1 movement.