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<BR><h1><font color=brown>Guillermin Mollet Premiere Edition 2003</h1>
<P><h2>Product Review</h2>
<P>by C. Bradley Jacobs</font></center>
<P><A HREF="http://www.fototime.com/D9D08AF4BD6E198/orig.jpg" target=_new><IMG SRC="http://www.fototime.com/D9D08AF4BD6E198/orig.jpg" align=right WIDTH=250 HEIGHT=200 hspace=5 VSPACE=5 alt="Guillermin Mollet Premiere Edition 2003"></A><b>In an age </b>when massive sports watches and steel chronographs are the rage, when even the most venerable houses are jumping on the bandwagon of adding diamonds and dial-cluttering retrograde complications to make their watches stand out, it is a rare pleasure to find a watch such as the Guillermin Mollet Premiere Edition 2003. The initial offering of the new brand Guillermin Mollet, this watch is more than just an example of retro-modern styling, it is a timepiece that pays homage to an historic design as well as an era. <P>
<P>As the brand’s literature indicates, the firm of Guillermin Mollet was well known in post-war Paris for “exceptional designs and international clientele.” Around 1950, a special wristwatch case was designed and hand-crafted for Patek Philippe. The case was made in low numbers--only three are known to exist—but it has been faithfully reproduced in a larger, yet limited, edition to allow those who appreciate this distinctive design to acquire one of their own. One hundred-fifty pieces are available in each of three colors of gold. The example reviewed here is one of the rose gold examples with cream dial and applied gold roman numerals. In all, fifteen different styles of the watch are available, representing combinations of various styles of marker, three colors of gold case and four dial colors.
<P><A HREF="http://www.fototime.com/9103438CEAD8A3E/orig.jpg" target=_new><IMG SRC="http://www.fototime.com/9103438CEAD8A3E/orig.jpg" align=left WIDTH=250 HEIGHT=200 hspace=5 VSPACE=5 alt="Buckle"></A>The Guillermin Mollet website indicates that “Each watch is fitted with a genuine Alligator strap, made entirely by hand in Italy. We offer these straps in three classic colors- black, brown and rust in glossy and mat finish. All our straps are fitted with Retracto integrated spring bars for easy removal, giving you the freedom to change the strap to suit your attire. Each strap is finished with a hand made18k matching sculpted buckle designed to fit the distinctive style of the watch.”
<P>One may look at this watch and think at first that it is small. Considering the current trend of large watches, where even a classic tank can be as wide as a large, round diver’s watch, the GM is comparatively small. It is, however, a substantial timepiece. At its widest points, the case measures 28 mm; it measures 40 mm from 12:00 to 6:00; the thickness at the center is 11.4 mm; and measured on the diagonal, the dial is approximately 30 mm. Visually, the design appears compact, but its dimensions, a substantial crystal (more on this below) and its 80 gram (2.8 oz) weight combine to create a watch with serious “wrist presence.” The straps are 19 mm at the case and 16 mm at the buckle.
<P><A HREF="http://www.fototime.com/4A3B763051FDA90/orig.jpg" target=_new><IMG SRC="http://www.fototime.com/4A3B763051FDA90/orig.jpg" align=right WIDTH=250 HEIGHT=200 hspace=5 VSPACE=5 alt="Rose gold GM with cream-colored dial"></A>Of course, such an elegant watch should not be compared with the utilitarian sport watches of today, but it seems that the wristwatch market demands increased size across the full spectrum of products. Guillermin Mollet has accommodated this desire. Whether or not the original design was as large as this reproduction, I do not know, but if concessions to popular taste were made, GM has created their watch in a size that should please today’s connoisseur and still remain timeless.
<P>The case design has a theme, which I will refer to as “stacked.” This combines a stepped and flared hood at either end of the case (it’s really a sort of lug-less case rather than “hooded” as early Rolex Bubblebacks are described), an angled, three-section profile (contributing greatly to comfort of the wrist), and a massive, curved crystal. This crystal, which is roughly the full size of the dial, is of thick sapphire with a bold curve, flat sides and finely beveled edges. Its complex shape serves alternately to magnify and slightly distort the dial, and it also serves to cast and reflect light in a most appealing manner. The variety of angles at which light hits the dial enhances the various patterns visible there. <A HREF="http://www.fototime.com/57504BABF23B0AD/orig.jpg" target=_new><IMG SRC="http://www.fototime.com/57504BABF23B0AD/orig.jpg" align=left WIDTH=250 HEIGHT=250 hspace=5 VSPACE=5 alt="The automatic movement is an ETA 2000"></A>The dial of this example features a guilloché-type pattern in the center, framed by a series of concentric rectangles upon which are mounted the gold markers and roman numerals. Gold hands and a printed nameplate complete the design. Although the description sounds busy, the overall effect is harmonious and the structural elements of the case function to draw your eye to the dial, exactly where it belongs. The stacking effect of the case is repeated on the strap buckle of matching 18k gold.
<P>The watch is powered by an ETA 2000, the rotor of which, if listening is any indication, spins long and freely. I have not timed this watch, but would expect that it keeps time to near chronometer specifications as do most of the highest-grade ETA automatics. Surely for a watch with retail prices of $6000-6400 this is not an unreasonable expectation.
<P>A lovely honey-colored hardwood box, lined in leather, contains the watch and paperwork. The shape of the box, though it does not exactly mimic the watch, nicely complements its steps and curves.
<P><A HREF="http://www.fototime.com/383BB5E8EEBF94C/orig.jpg" target=_new><IMG SRC="http://www.fototime.com/383BB5E8EEBF94C/orig.jpg" align=right WIDTH=250 HEIGHT=250 hspace=5 VSPACE=5 alt="Guillermin Mollet packaging"></A>Overall, this is a nice package. The original of this design was signed by Patek Philippe, which certainly sets it apart from any unofficial reproductions in both price and pedigree, but only three are known to exist, making it nigh on impossible to acquire. Guillermin Mollet has resurrected a stunning design and done so by making available a reliable and exclusive timepiece at a reasonable price. The inclusion of a more exclusive movement would have greatly enhanced the package, but at what price? As is, the watch seems to operate very well, which is enough for most folks who are looking for a distinctive dress watch.
<P>For more information, visit <A HREF="http://www.guillerminmollet.com" TARGET="_blank">the Guillermin Mollet website</A> where there are photos of each different model as well as more information on the history of the brand name. Guillermin Mollet is no longer a fashionable jeweler in Paris, but this new company in California is doing a fine job of carrying on its tradition.
<BR><font color=gray>Text & Images ©2003 C. Bradley Jacobs.</font>
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