In-Depth with Le Rhöne’s Illustrious Moon Phases and More!

In-Depth with Le Rhöne’s Illustrious Moon Phases and More!

Illuminating the moon's cycles or fuelling our wanderlust? That is the question we pose today.

By Joël A. Grandjean

For the brand with the two dots in its name, a symbol that conjures up all the rigours of watchmaking excellence (see our article on "Le Rhöne: Friendship and horological complications"), growth has been remarkable: markets are opening up all over the world, including: Finland, Latvia, Italy, Switzerland, France, Malaysia, Japan, Uruguay, Santo Domingo, and St. Barths. A shower of new products in 2018 rained down on the fertile lands of Baselworld. The number of Le Rhöne references has thus risen to around 35 models spread across 3 collections: Haute Horlogerie, Road Racer and Hedonia.

Hedonia 2018: quarter moons writ large

A gentle lunar light is cast in this innovative addition, coupled with a starry sky spangled with gold, to lift the Hedonia collection created in 2017 to new celestial heights… The Grande Phase de Lune model refers the enthusiast, or would-be aficionado, back to the original purpose of this legendary complication. Programmed by the stars to complete its revolution of the earth in 29.56 days, the moon obeys different laws. That said, watchmakers would never go about developing such mechanisms just to make their lives more complicated. A knowledge of the moon cycles was useful to those who knew, back in the day, that a good harvest depended upon the timeliness of sowing and ploughing.

Thus, almost taking up the entire dial, the moon illuminates the whole watch. As clearly as a cloudless sky, it reveals the progression of the earth's satellite at the end of the wrist of either sex, for the 41 mm diameter masculine model is now available in 37 mm. Surrounded by a Super-Luminova star-studded sky, the disposition of elements are seemingly suspended in a Milky Way lit up by mother-of-pearl or texturized metal crescent moons.

The materials selected for this 2018 timepiece are steel, rose gold, and white gold, although rose gold is only found in the somewhat more feminine 37 mm version. In the precious gem version, we see diamonds arrayed in a row around the bezel and in "snowflake" settings around the flange. The effect is a window onto space and a starry sky illuminated by an incredible moon conveyed in near-imperceptible shades of grey. And for those wanting to keep their feet firmly on the ground and ignore the magical pull of the moon, there is also a new no-nonsense, masculine, non-bejewelled version, sporting a black cosmic dial and a more metallic-textured moon.

The very first JMT: jumping from one time zone to the next

The other new Hedonia making waves among the profusion of new models for 2018, is the JMT model. Yes, you read correctly, that's "J", as in "Jumping" Meridian Time. While the end of 2017 saw the addition of a simple automatic model to the range, also 41 mm in diameter, we now have a dual time zone piece, where the wearer's home time remains fixed inside its aperture. Upon activation of the push-piece, it is only the local time that jumps. It's almost as if time has broken free momentarily from the bounds of Earth's horizon to appear in another zone. The dial itself is an invitation to intercontinental travel. A motif of the earth's globe raised in relief depicts those areas covered in water in blue and divides the dial into strips by lines of longitude.

The Road Racer range, still spearheaded by the all-gold model with anthracite dial, pays tribute to the old 1969 Camaro, a legendary vehicle, from which certain DNA fragments were extracted for the needs of its production. The chronograph line, launched six years ago, continues to evolve and grow. Now it is joined by a splendid new blue version, crafted in all-steel with a distressed DLC coating. We also now have the Infinity all-black model with its intriguing and sophisticated shadow-play.

Finally, there is the original concept of the one-of-a-kind creation, a single expression of uniqueness within which there are myriad variants and options. The Le Rhöne watchcases, conceived by Loïc Florentin (who co-founded the brand together with Timo Rajakoski) and designed by Yvan Ketterer, present seven different levels of customisation or possible combinations among the material matches available. You get to choose the marriage of finish and surface treatment, or whether or not to decorate those parts reserved for personalisation, such as the substantial lugs extending into the inter-horn space, or the aesthetic flange surrounding the bezel.

The journey promises to be long. The Le Rhöne brand is not the ‘long tranquil river’ with which it shares its name… Thanks to the power of the wrist, it is suffused with the dignity and confidence of its wearer, and flows unimpeded, tracing its unstoppable, triumphant, determined path.

(Photography by Liam O’Donnell)

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