Alchimie is the name of a graceful women’s watch in the Fair Lady collection by Emile Chouriet. It is available in different dial colours, and with satin strap or steel bracelet. Its price of between 1,000 and 1,180 Swiss francs makes it an accessible piece. I saw the brand at Baselworld, I was impressed by the watches, though I’m still trying to work out the real identity of the company.
The watch is 30 mm in diameter, with stainless steel case and a sapphire watchglass. It has the standard water resistance of 30 metres. The dial colours are silver-white, bordeaux, champagne or dark grey, while hands are black or silvered.
There is an attractive coordination between the crown and the decorative elements on the lugs.
The real significance of this piece for Emile Chouriet lies in the movement, the brand’s first in-house calibre. For a large watch company that does everything in-house, a new movement means an investment of about 2 million euros. For a smaller brand such as Emile Chouriet, an in-house movement is an ambitious enterprise, involving a lot of design study by their engineers, who have to reconcile their ideas for the movement with the parts available from third-party suppliers. This is a new watch, I haven’t seen the movement, I can’t say anything about the finish…
Work on the movement began three years ago. The EC5318 calibre is 19.4 mm in diameter and 4.8 mm thick, self-winding, with 138 components and 28 jewels. The balance runs at 28,800 vibrations per hour, 4 Hertz, and the movement has a power reserve of about 45 hours. It is presumably a conventional movement, though the brand are justifiably proud of the fact that they make their own balance springs, and so can describe their escapement as the Chouriet Swiss lever escapement.
And so Alchimie is a watershed for the brand, a step towards achieving true independence. EC5318 will soon be followed by a movement for men’s watches, and successively by complications. Emile Chouriet have shown that it is possible, and so those brands that talk about “the dream of bringing all stages of movement production in-house” while continuing to purchase movements by ETA, Sellita, Soprod and Miyota and plugging them into cases are not being entirely sincere.