A Hidden Gem: The Hand-Crafted Chronometer Series 2 from Pascal Coyon
After delivering a 60-piece Chronometer Series 1 featuring top-notch hand finishing and an incredible price, the French independent watchmaker Pascal Coyon has embarked on a new horological endeavor: creating the next generation of time-only timepieces using traditional watchmaking techniques, exceptional hand-finishing, and delightful customization options.
Here is a tale seasoned watch collectors have been sharing with newcomers to the hobby: About 12 years ago, a very talented French watchmaker decided to create a classic chronometer that bore his name, hand-finishing, and an unbelievably affordable price. It was to be a 60-piece limited edition, with 20 pieces in 3 different movement colors – yellow, pink, and silver. And while all 60 sold out quickly, it took the watchmaker more than four years to finish making them. Today, the market prices of these watches are 4 to 5 times higher than the original price.
The name of this independent watchmaker is Pascal Coyon.
Based in Bayonne in southwestern France, Pascal Coyon started out by restoring antique clocks and watches, a common path for many top independent watchmakers. This experience made him an expert in traditional watchmaking and hand-finishing, which he put to good use in the 60-piece Chronometer Series 1 when he built the Calibre 1900 by referencing the Longines calibre 19.70, a pocket watch movement from the first half of the 20th century. And given the success of this first model, Pascal was ready to take it to the next level.
In November 2019, the Pascal Coyon Chronometer Series 2 powered by the new calibre 19 was announced. It is a made-to-order watch (with various customization options) that is meticulously handmade by Pascal and his daughter Barbara Coyon at a rate of only about one per month.
The final product undergoes strict precision testing at the Besançon Observatory. The price is €30,500 for a case in either white or rose gold. Although the price tag seems high, this is actually a very reasonable sum considering the exclusive chronometer movement, high-end hand finishing, and ample dial and hand options. Furthermore, clients get to work with Pascal and Barbara to finalize the design and see the watch come together.
Despite the aesthetic similarity to the Calibre 1900, the Calibre 19 is a new movement designed from the ground up using traditional watchmaking methods and very high standards for timing precision.
At first glance, we see the massive balance wheel beating at a slow rate of 2.5Hz, which helps maintain the stability of the movement. As an added benefit, the 2.5Hz rate is perfect for hearing the soothing tick of the watch. It is a manually wound calibre, without a rotor to obstruct viewing of the intricate micromechanical wonder. (Bonus: The winding action is smooth and makes a satisfying sound.)
The movement is available in three colors: 19C (which resembles pink gold), 19B (which resembles platinum), and 19H Havana (which looks like a blushy yellow gold). The engraved serial number on the movement would be 19C01, 19C02, etc.
We may see beautifully engraved “France” and “P. Coyon 2” on the main plate. One highlight of the movement design is the escapement wheel bridge made of brass and steel. The contrasting colors add sophistication to the classic escapement mechanism.
Lastly, the finishing of the Calibre 19 is nothing short of astonishing! Even the most discerning collectors are amazed by the exquisite beveling, côtes de Genève, mirror polishing, and perlage. What the father-daughter team offers is the apogee in traditional watchmaking and hand-finishing, which is incredibly satisfying to admire, either with the naked eye or under a 10x loupe.
Pascal offers two basic dial designs for the Series 2 timepieces. One is a sector dial with a ring matched with the hour hand, gold numerals and appliques, and graduations on the periphery of the dial. The other design has only numerals and dotted minute markers. The small seconds sub-dials are present at 6 o’clock in both designs.
These classic dials are reminiscent of the elegant time-only watches produced by Patek Philippe in earlier eras. Clients receive a few initial design options and can choose the dial color and upgrade to enamel dials. However, perhaps our favorite dial is the result of a client requesting the use of the numerals from the dotted minute marker design on the sector dial. It turned out beautifully!
Another delightful experience for clients is choosing the hands for the Series 2. Made of either gold or blued steel, the hands come in several styles, including sword, classic marine, new marine, leaf, and Breguet.
Plus, since the hands are center stage in this horological art, the opportunity to decide on a particular design feels more significant.
Besançon Observatory Certificate
Owned by the French National Center for Scientific Research, the Besançon Astronomical Observatory is one of the observatories that test watch movements for accuracy (Fun Fact: Independent watchmakers Rexhep Rexhepi and Atelier de Chronométrie also submit their watches to the Besançon Observatory for certification). The testing is lengthy and quite strict, with a limit for an average daily rate of -4 to +6 seconds per day and an overall standard consistent with COSC’s Category 1 certification.
Pascal Coyon’s Series 1 and 2 timepieces have been certified by the Besançon, but seeing as it can only handle about 100 watches per year, it is quite prestigious to obtain this certificate. Once certified, the Besançon Observatory affixes a viper symbol on the movement’s plate.
Pascal Coyon has perhaps the lowest profile of any independent watchmaker; however, his work is appreciated by discerning watch collectors, even as his name continues to spread through word of mouth. He doesn’t even have a website, although he shares his latest creations on Instagram and Facebook. He also occasionally chimes in on discussions at watch forums like WatchProSite and still takes on watch and clock repair work. All while meticulously handcrafting a Series 2 classic chronometer each month.
The wonderful timepieces from Pascal Coyon are hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Any interested buyers can contact him or his daughter by email or Facebook. There are ample options to customize the Series 2 and make it a personal piece.
Of course, the wait time could be 2-3 years due to all the hand-finishing work required. Still, we think it’s worth it, seeing as the end result is a beautifully crafted timepiece, inside and out, made with traditional watchmaking skills and uncompromising hand-finishing. It will be a timepiece any owner can take pride in and enjoy to the fullest.