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Trilobe - Time liberated, art stimulated

Trilobe Time liberated, art stimulated

Created in 2018, Trilobe has already won over the GPHG jury three times, the founder and collectors of Only Watch twice, as well as artists such as Daniel Buren. Above all, the brand has found its audience**

Three collections in three years, with an immediately identifiable aesthetic approach and impeccable technical content, as we shall see in presenting the trilogy below. Trilobe’s success and the well thought-out, courageous and humble approach of its leaders command respect. As its founder Gautier Massonneau likes to say in a French play on words: Vous avez l’heure, moi j’ai le temps”, meaning “You have the time of day, I take time for time”.

Impelled by its “Time liberated” leitmotif, the brand with an architectural DNA surprised the watchmaking world with the annular time indications of its first line of watches, Les Matinaux (a reference to René Char’s collection of poems), equipped with an exclusive X-Centric calibre and available in five color versions as well as one customizable variations. The unusual aesthetics are as appealing as the name of this promising young company, which refers to the universal three-lobe architectural motif. The eccentric circles are eye-catching and functional, given that the rotating disks indicate hours, minutes and seconds as the numbers engraved on their rings move past the trilobes serving as indexes. Inspired by architecture, Gautier Massonneau also wanted to give the openworked seconds ring the shape of the rosetta adorning the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, framed a case with polished and satin-finished surfaces distinguished by its attached lugs.

In 2021, launches have appeared in rapid-fire succession (see following pages), distribution is becoming more international and Trilobe has experienced some key landmarks. For example, its new Nuit Fantastique (hands-free) collection was selected in the “Petite Aiguille” category of the GPHG, and the sculptor Daniel Buren agreed to create a unique work of art in collaboration with Trilobe for the Only Watch 2021 auction and intended to demonstrate that “this reciprocity between art and watchmaking is as beautiful as it is between audacity and generosity”.

In the 18th century, the German philosopher Hegel defined architecture as the first art and sculpture as the second. Since then, the art of measuring time has been granted status the status of “12th art”. Trilobe has managed to make them work hand in hand.

Another Vision Of Watchmaking

Nuit Fantastique. The name of Trilobe’s latest collection is a clue to the spirit in which its watches are crafted. There are no allusions to manly, historical, automotive, geographical, or Latin terminology. No performance-related boasts, hyperbole, superlatives, “technoid” language or cold numerical nomenclature.

Time liberated, art stimulated

Nuit Fantastique © Trilobe

Trilobe is an architectural and poetic brand. Architectural in its design. Poetic in its language, and even in the objects with which it surrounds itself, since who else has a stack of René Char’s poetry books on their booth at trade fairs? Nuit Fantastique is at the exact crossroads between these two arts.

Time liberated, art stimulated

Nuit Fantastique © Trilobe

Another ‘Pointed’ Reminder of Time

Mechanically, Trilobe is deeply identified with its display principle introduced with its first collection named Les Matinaux. Three rings – one for the hours, another for the minutes and the third for the seconds – each run at their own pace. They are offcentered in relation to the dial and to each other. Les Matinaux literally points to the time by means of three indexes, the eponymous trilobes after which the brand is named. For Nuit Fantastique, the locations are more immediately identifiable. The hour is read off in the 12 o’clock position where the only complete trilobe of this dial is located. The minutes are indicated in five minute increments on the upper part of a figure-eight shaped dial applique symbolizing verticalized infinity, and seconds are displayed in the larger lower section. Within this infinite eight shape occupying an entire vertical axis between 7 and 11 o’clock, the stylized tip of another trilobe merges into the contour graced with a satin-finish surface and a polished chamfer, making this shape stand out even more clearly against the perfectly matt surrounding surface. The large, mainly blank dial features a grained finish and is available in silver, deep blue or black versions. In addition to these three shades, a Havana brown iteration is now available, matched not with a steel case but with the other metal used by Trilobe, pink gold. The Nuit Fantastique collection will therefore also be available in a 40.5mm pink gold case.

Time liberated, art stimulated

Nuit Fantastique Havana Edition © Trilobe

The Same Spirit

For anyone who may have thought Trilobe’s statements regarding its affinities with architecture and design were mere distant hints, the brand has just provided an unequivocal answer. As part of the ninth edition of Only Watch, and for its second participation, Trilobe has created a one-of-a-kind model in a new format stemming from collaboration with one of the most famous French sculptors. La Réciproque was indeed designed with Daniel Buren and its name sums up the sense of community and sharing that gave it life. It is no longer a wristworn piece, but instead a square-shaped clock bearing the artist’s signature motif: wide, graphic black and white vertical stripes creating a distinctive structure through their regularity, their contrast, their defining force. Twice a day at precisely 2:13pm, these stripes are perfect when Trilobe’s three signature rings align with the case, creating for one fleeting moment an unlikely match between rectangle and circle, resulting from a dialogue between equals. An aesthetic and design touch based on an impressive degree of mastery achieved by the still youthful brand.

Time liberated, art stimulated

La Réciproque by Daniel Buren © Trilobe

Another Mecanism

As if Trilobe’s approach to watchmaking were not sufficiently original and iconoclastic enough, it includes the mechanical heart that makes them tick. Right from the outset, Trilobe has relied on a display principle developed to its specifications to install the indication of the hours, minutes and seconds on off centered and non-concentric rings. As a result of this layout, it is impossible to guess that they must be driven from the inside. There was thus no way of using a wheel with external teeth and they had to be cut entirely to size. From the beginning, the project was to offer a caliber entirely dedicated to Trilobe and made to measure. It is now done with the X-Centric caliber. And as usual, the brand has not made it easy. This movement is thus integrated, thin, self-winding and to reconcile these two characteristics, it has entrusted its winding to a micro-rotor. As a result, the X-Centric caliber performs all the necessary functions for Trilobe within a total thickness of 5.78mm. The architectural layout of the vertically aligned movement organs provides an interesting counterpoint to that of the dial indications, representing further proof that Trilobe definitely loves paradoxes.

Time liberated, art stimulated

Calibre X-Centric © Trilobe

Another unique Feature

In a new reversal of watchmaking codes, Trilobe is introducing a new shift in meaning. A “secret” watch suggests a cover, an animation that reveals a color, a shape. But Secret de Trilobe is far more intimate, for its secret is yours. A hidden meaning, a mystery event, a date that only makes sense to you, to him, to her. “Secret” is therefore a personalized dial, installed in a model from the Les Matinaux or Nuit Fantastique collections, in steel or pink gold. This made-to-measure dial takes the form of a map of the night sky, with stars appearing in relief against a blue sunburst pattern (also available in other colors). An internal algorithm defines the sky chart at a given date, time and location. Prior to that, the brand will have collected noted the client’s request, defining the where and the when that are precisely the secret in question. A Trilobe Secret is therefore the watch of a very special moment in life: that of a birth, a union, placed under celestial auspices. The stars studding the dial of a Trilobe Secret are revealed in a new light... at night, since they are luminescent. This specific night sky is therefore illuminated every evening.

Time liberated, art stimulated

Les Matinaux Secret © Trilobe

Another Envelope

Trilobe has added an extra level of customization to the Secret watch. Secret is also adorned with an exceptional case. Beneath the sycamore and cedar wood cover, a sky chart produced by the company’s algorithm becomes a decorative element of a precious arena. Initially intended to house the watch, it can if desired take on a new, more aromatic role. Each case is made by the Parisian table-maker Elie Bleu. A specialist in precious boxes, he handcrafts board games, made-to-measure boxes and, in many cases, humidors. The large blue lacquered box is designed to accommodate up to forty cigars, Robusto format, in the best conditions. For those who are interested in this cigar box alone, it is available independently from the watch and offered for any watch in platinum edition.

Time liberated, art stimulated

Nuit Fantastique Secret © Trilobe

*As a World Tempus reader, we are delighted to offer you the latest digital version of this GMT magazine that you can download here. Happy reading!

**Article written in collaboration with David Chokron


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An audacious idea born out of a desire to break from the traditional watchmaking codes. A new way of reading time. Poetry on the wrist, an intimate link to time. Trilobe is all of those things, and so much more.

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