Ateliers DeMonaco, the high end watchmaking arm of Frederique Constant‘s group of watch brands, joins a growing list of watchmakers that have created timepieces not just inspired by a car, but only available by purchasing the car. In collaboration with Prato Automobiles, the brand recently announced the Ateliers DeMonaco Tourbillon Oculus 1297 Orage watch.
If you haven’t heard of Prato Automobiles before, that’s because the manufacturer is young. They recently opened orders for their first car, the Orage, with deliveries slated for late 2018. Given that the Orage is a performance car (the brand emphasizes the naturally-aspirated V8, 8.1l powerplant that can generate 900hp), it seems the collaboration watch could have easily been a variant of, say, the Admiral Manufacture Chronographe Flyback as flyback chronographs in particular are often associated with racing and automotive themed watches.
Getting back to the watch, the Oculus 1297 Orage features the same Tourbillon XP1 movement found in the Ateliers DeMonaco Tourbillon “Xtreme Precision” Oculus Petite Minute watch that Ariel discusses in detail here and that we previously saw in the Tourbillon Oculus 1297 Titane here. The movement offers a silicon escapement, sapphire tourbillon bridge, 22k gold rotor and hand-finishing all over. The caliber dMc-980, as it is called, offers 42 hours of power reserve and beats at 28,800bph.
The primary difference with this version of Oculus 1297 is the case material – carbon fiber and white gold this time with an “ultralight titanium core.” By core, I can only assume they are referring to the spacer ring between the movement and the case but it’s hard to tell without any caseback images. The carbon fiber doesn’t have a uniform threading pattern, instead you see the white gold forming random tendrils through the case, creating a marbling effect. The case measures in at 44mm x 13.1mm and is rated to 30m of water-resistance.
The dial is nearly the same as the one found on the Tourbillon Oculus 1297 Titane, with the repeating “lozenges” in relief, which I still think looks like a faux carbon fiber pattern – appropriate for a racing theme. The dial at the top for telling time is a skeletonized, white gold ring with dauphine shaped hands. The only differences from the Titane version are the presence of the the limited edition numbering on the left, the Orage logo on the right, and the background of the time telling sub-dial, which is similar to the case. The dial is also encircled by the repeating Prato Automobiles logo on the rehaut.
The Ateliers DeMonaco Tourbillon Oculus 1297 Orage is a limited edition of 19 pieces, just like the Prato Orage, and as mentioned above, the watch is sold with the car. To make this relationship between the two products more significant, the alligator strap (with white gold threading, no less) of the Oculus 1297 Orage is embedded with an electronic chip that acts as a key to allow keyless access to the car. Not sure if that comes across as gimmicky or a nice touch, but I doubt it adds much practical value as collectors often prefer to rotate watches and swap out straps.
The Ateliers DeMonaco Oculus 1297 has always been, in my opinion, a watch that appeals to a small group of people. If you do happen to be one of them and want one similar to this, your best bet (aside from buying a Prato Orage) would be the Tourbillon Oculus 1297 Titane with gold dial. Since the watch comes only with the €850,000 car, it does not have a price on its own. ateliers-demonaco.com