This may not be a brand that many have heard of, but it’s certainly worth watching. Trilobe is a relatively small watch company based out of France that got up and running only in 2018. I think the first time that I really paid attention to Trilobe was when they submitted a unique piece for the Only Watch 2019 auction (speaking of, please visit this article if you want to find out more about this year’s upcoming Only Watch auction that benefits Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research). To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with their initial design. The watch wasn’t bad, but it felt a little boring and left a lot to be desired. Luckily, that seems to have now been fixed, as Trilobe has since launched a number of new collections and variations of their existing watches, taking a company that I thought I’d never be enthused about to a point where they’re quickly becoming one of my favorite watchmakers. Their best release of all though, and what I want to focus on now, may be the relatively new Une Folle Journée (translating to “A Crazy Day” in English) line, a collection that takes what’s become their standard design language and pops it out into a unique three-dimensional form.
The first thing that needs to be mentioned is the visual depth of this watch. The watch measures in at 40.5mm in diameter, but 17.8mm in thickness when including the crystal. The sapphire crystal of this watch is dramatically curved to allow for the significant structural depth inside. Manufactured in Japan via flame fusion, the domed sapphire crystal is ultimately smoothed and polished by Trilobe in Switzerland. Speaking of, while Trilobe is a French company, it’s worth mentioning that their watch production is done in Switzerland. The dramatic curvature of the sapphire crystal on this watch, combined with the three-dimensional properties of the time display, give us a watch that flew others can compare to.
Moving to what’s underneath the sapphire crystal, the watch uses three rotating rings, which stand at a height of 10.2mm above the rest of the “dial”, to display the time. These rings are crafted out of a special titanium-aluminium-vanadium alloy which allows for their lightness and therefore the ability for them to be held up more easily from the rest of the movement. The rings are later DLC-coated to give them their final color and pad printed (difficult to do considering the curved nature of the rings) to apply their numerals. Going from the innermost ring out are seconds, minutes, and hours. Since each has its own individual section, I guess you could even make the argument that this is a regulator, even though it potentially qualifies in a very unorthodox way.
The time is read via a triangular indicator located between the hour and minute rings at the bottom of the dial. Using the indicator, you can create an imaginary vertical line where whatever that line touches on the bottom portion of any ring will be the number you’re looking for to tell the time. It’s definitely not your standard time display, but I think anyone wearing this watch would get used to it pretty quickly. In between the seemingly floating rings are exposed portions of the movement that form the dial of the watch. The exposed sandblasted plate creates a nice contrast against the smoothness of the floating rings.
The case is available currently in either rose gold or titanium. The titanium case is currently available in the following three options: with either black rings and blackish grey movement, blue rings and blackish grey movement, or in “dune”, a combination that features greyish rings against a somewhat rose gold colored movement. Among the non-limited edition models, the rose gold option is available only with the dune option. The case is a mixture of satin and polished finishes and is water resistant to 50m. Trilobe also likes to point out that they’ve replaced the usual fish symbol that denotes water resistance with that of a duck. Your guess is as good as mine.
Inside the watch is Trilobe’s X-Centric movement. This in-house movement is actually pretty visually pleasing from an architectural standpoint, but also has some subtle, yet nice chamfering on the plate edges to reveal some silver coloring against the mostly black back of the movement. At the top of the movement is a micro-rotor, so of course it’s an automatic movement. The movement beats at 4 Hz and has a power reserve of 48 hours, which should be a pretty adequate number for most wearers. The watch comes on an alligator strap in either brown, blue, or black, depending on the mode. The strap also is fitted with a quick-change system and comes with a pin buckle.
I’m not going to pretend like these are inexpensive watches, but when you factor in the uniqueness of the design and compare it to other companies doing sort of similar atypical designs, the price is actually fairly good. MB&F is a big one that comes to mind, specifically their HM7 Aquapod which retailed for over 100,000 USD. Additionally, with this Trilobe’s dramatically curved sapphire crystal, we can start to draw some similarities to Jacob & Co.’s Astronomia collection too, where the prices are well into the hundreds of thousands. I’m not saying Trilobe’s offering is the same as MB&F’s HM7 or Jacob & Co.’s Astronomia models, but does the Trilobe share similarities to those two and have lots of things to like? Absolutely, and it does so at a fraction of the price. You’re getting lots of depth, a dramatically curved sapphire crystal, an atypical time display, and it does all of this without being a “look at me” type of watch. This is definitely a fun, conversation-starting watch, but it doesn’t get that title by being flashy… it does it by being interesting. The colors and design of the watch allow it to be as loud or subtle as the wearer’s personality, something I definitely can’t say for any Astronomia. In my mind, this watch is what would be created if Chanel brought in Max Büsser of MB&F to overhaul the Monsieur de Chanel line.
I’d like to see Trilobe continue to release more models for this line in different color combinations as well as more novelty options in the future. While this platform can be more subdued like the examples referenced here, I think there’s also plenty of room for more artistic dials for limited edition variants. There’s definitely some room on the right side of the dial if they ever want to do anything artsy to make use of that space. Overall, I give this watch very high marks, which is even more impressive considering how young the company is. Let’s hope they continue to impress.
The Trilobe One Folle Journeé is available in either titanium or rose gold at the prices of 19,583 EUR and 29,583 EUR, respectively.