The Truly Challenging And Bold Habring² × Massena Lab Erwin LAB03
It is not a typical collaboration of two partners. If you wanted to be completely precise, it would look like this: Habring² × Massena Lab × Joshua N. Shapiro × HSNY. What’s best is the fact that Massena squeezed a hot novelty out of each one involved.
It was the moment I landed the vintage Tourist Radio-Top with a caliber Chézard 7402, that I fully understood how charming the dead seconds complication is. It’s light, amusing, and perfectly elegant. Dead seconds are stripped-down simplicity and foresight. If I was about to give dead seconds a human character, I would say they’re like an old, calm, and wise gentleman. Well, it seems I’m not the only one who finds pleasure in this playful complication. The previous Habring² × Massena Lab models LAB01 and LAB02 were both limited to pieces and both sold out within five and three hours respectively. When the market is still hungry, it would not be silly not to give it another go.
Massena doesn’t know it can’t be done
Fortunately, watch sequels usually don’t suffer the movie sequel syndrome. Quite the opposite, there is always so much to do. And let me tell you, William Massena went like a guided missile on this one. He imagined it would be fun if Josh Shapiro made his first-ever bronze dial and put it together with the beautiful Habring² movement, for the first time ever finished in rose gold. And after that, he would take it and without one blink of an eye and let it be certified as a chronometer. Something challenging given we are talking about a movement that has been out there for some time and never strived for such certification.
Good news for all Habring² Erwin owners, you all probably own a deadbeat seconds movement with chronometer specs. It’s an admirable level of self-confidence. A chronometer spec watch that hasn’t felt the urge to tell anyone about it for years. Massena, of course, did it with style. He agreed for the Habring² × Massena Lab Erwin LAB003 to be the first watch ever to pass the new testing service offered by The Horological Society of New York. The HSNY claims it exceeds international standards. To pay tribute to the Horological Society of New York that was founded in 1866, the entire Habring² × Massena Lab Erwin LAB003 collection will be limited to 66 pieces with delivery to take place from January 2022.
Massena listens to people
The story started three years ago when Massena first met Joshua Shapiro at an HSNY lecture and liked his work. Later on, it was one of the customers who planted the idea of creating a new kind of magic using an 80-year-old straight-line guilloché machine. But while most salmon dials are usually painted or copper plated, Massena decided it would be nice to make it from real bronze. Since Josh agreed, he now spends almost 5 hours on each dial. Each is grained using a Water of Ayr stone famed for its very fine texture.
A lot of traveling
The Breguet style hour, minute, and seconds hands are navy blue, to fit the dial printing. “The dial design incorporates that Bauhaus style of sector dial with a classic English style of guilloché. We selected the font of the Roman numerals very carefully,” Massena explains. Once Josh finishes his part of the craftsmanship, the dials move back to Europe. Before they arrive for the final assembly in Austria, the dials have to be pad printed in Germany. As the dials are made of solid bronze they receive an extra layer of lacquer protection.
A lot of transport involved sparked the question of how the transatlantic cooperation with the Habrings worked. „If there is will there’s a way. And I really enjoy working with Maria and Richard Habring, it is like working with family,“ says William.
Habring² × Massena Lab Erwin LAB003 on the wrist
I found the Erwin LAB001 to be truly vintage-inspired. The Erwin LAB002 struck me as a classy, but younger and more sporty watch. I haven’t seen the Habring² × Massena Lab Erwin LAB003 in the flesh, but it looks warmly unusual and highly individualistic due to the basketweave pattern. I get the impression that the majestic numerals located closer to the center might give a deceptive feeling of the actual size. It really makes me feel like the watch looks smaller, but the 38.5mm diameter is very generous and ideal for such a strong dial personality. I would highly suggest checking out the wrist shot. Additionally, it’s worth pointing out that Massena has an eye for straps. The dark blue deer leather strap with a stainless steel tang buckle seems like the perfect fit.
Finally, when I asked William what gave him the biggest headache, the answer was clear. „The biggest challenge was to make a real and unique hand guilloché dial with an in-house movement and a small complication for less than $10,000.“ He thinks that including an American dial-maker and watchmaker in the Habring² × Massena Lab collaboration was an excellent idea. I totally agree, and the market will tell us its opinion in a few days. Or a few hours… We shall see. Meanwhile, what I see is an unorthodox, but very eclectic mix of a forgotten, but charming complication in a re-invented Austrian style, and aristocratic dial craftmanship. It looks elegant, but not old. It has spirit and gusto.