I often find myself, on a Saturday morning, listening to the Worn & Wound podcast. I was doing this the past weekend, and happened to stumble across an exclusive interview with Colin De Tonnac. Colin is 30 years old and hails from Bordeaux, in the south of France. Having worked in the quality department, then as a workshop technician of none other than Patek Phillipe for the past four years, Colin has decided to start his own watch company, Semper & Adhuc. The thing that caught my eye and excited me so much about this particular brand and their story, is their philosophy. Having conversed with Colin personally over the last few days, what is really clear to me is his ambition to not just be another newcomer who starts on Kickstarter in the hopes of it leading onto better things. Colin is not only incredibly passionate about watches, but is technically very gifted, having studied watchmaking for five years and receiving a diploma in watchmaking.
“In a world dominated by the quartz era, the omnipresence of screens of all kinds, and ‘always on communication’ , mechanical watchmaking rehabilitation offering manual winding watches and minimalist design was a beautiful challenge.”
Colin de Tonnac
The ethos of Semper & Adhuc very much emulates the city from whence they are founded. Bordeaux is a city which is synonymous with antiques, and the saving and restoring of gorgeous old furniture, and given them new homes in the 21st century. Colin has used this at the heart of his company. He takes old movements from days gone by and companies that got ‘killed off’ by the Quartz crisis in the 70’s, restores them and gives them a new lease of life. Using new cases and dials, designed by himself, he turns these old, forgotten movements, into stunning new watches.
This company is brand new. I mean Colin has been working on these watches for two years in secret, and has only in the past month announced the brand to the world. Outside of the Worn & Wound podcast that he did, no other watch publications have written or spoken about his brand, not even a certain company that rhymes with shmodinkee… So this really is an exclusive article! As a result of this being so new, we are not yet able to get our hands on a piece or two to do a hands on review. As a result of this, Colin has been very kind in sending us a press pack with stunning photos of the prototypes he has created, which you will be able to see throughout the article.
Now a bit about the branding and the name. ‘Semper' & 'Adhuc’ are both words of Latin origin. Colin says that the name is the very essence of what the brand is. It sums the brand up perfectly; to restore old mechanisms in the rules of art and to offer them a new skin, subsequently creating a new watch that is completely unique.
When it comes to the logo, this is the part of the branding which really strikes a cord with me and is very much something that only Colin himself could really tell you about. In a sense, it is not one of those logos that you look at and instantly understand it’s hidden meaning.
“The three intertwined faces of the logo are those of the “Three Fates” of Greeko-Roman mythology. These sisters, goddess of human destiny, held a mysterious thread, symbol of the course of life. The first wove it, the second unwound it, and the third cut it. Thus, they measure the time of a mans life, from birth to death, playing in a certain way the role of the very first watchmakers.”
Colin de Tonnac
Now no review of such a fantastic new company would be complete without at least telling you guys the technical specifications of the watches on offer.
Case: 316L stainless steel
Three forms of cases: Round, Cushion, Oval
Crown orientation: At the choice of the wearer
Apparent movement: By caseback eye cup
Restored mechanical movement: Swiss origin 5 1/2 (hours, minutes)
Frequencies: 18000 alt/h 2.5Hz and 21600 alt/h 3Hz according to model
Power reserve: 36 hours
Water resistance: 3ATM
Leather straps: made in France by hand, engraved steel ardillon buckle
Unique manufacturing number
Manufacture warranty: 2 years
Public price: €1500
Taking a look at the technical specification above, I think you will all agree that it makes for some pretty attractive reading. A 316L stainless steel case (the same steel used by Rolex, Omega, Tudor, Tag Heuer etc), in three contemporary but classic case shapes, is a very good start. It shows that Colin has thought about not only durability but inclusivity too. Whilst on the topic of dimensions, the eagle eyed amongst you will notice that case width is not mentioned above. Of course this is incredibly important as it, along with the 8mm depth, dictates the wearability of the watch! Well Semper & Adhuc have come up with quite an ingenious way of offering three different watches in the same case size, which you can see below:
The three different case shapes offered by Semper & Adhuc
As you can see, the difference in width between the different case sizes is relatively minimal. But every one of the 3 cases fits within a 37mm dimension. This dimension is the height of the case, excluding the lugs, as opposed to the more traditional ‘lug to lug’ dimension we are all familiar width. This choice of size is a very interesting one in this day and age. Although there are a lot of people, myself very much included, whom love smaller watches, nowadays the trend is very much one of wearing larger watches. I think Colin’s decision to go for a sub 40mm case size is a very inspired one. This is because, due to the very clean and elegant dial design, they can be pitched at both men and woman. Moreover, they can also be worn by people with smaller wrists, where the watch would sit larger, and those with larger wrists, where the watch would sit smaller. As a result, he is able to cater for pretty much every wrist size. Very smart move from them, from the 'Claude-Biver' school of thought....
To bring this article to a conclusion, as I feel my passion for this brand may be at risk of meaning I keep writing and writing, I love, and I mean LOVE, this brand. Not only are they doing something I don’t think anyone has ever done before in respect to repurposing forgotten movements, but they are doing it in very clean, attractive, well proportioned cases, made entirely in France. It also goes without saying that, having spoken with Colin first hand, I know his passion for the brand he has started is inspiring and we highly recommend that you check out their website, which I have included below. You can also find the address for their kickstarter campaign below. Kickstarter campaigns for watches are quite often overlooked by us watch geeks, and with good reason. Usually the campaigns are from young companies who are trying to “disrupt the swiss watch industry” by offering “affordable luxury” watches. We all know that both of these statements are well... exaggerated. However, Semper & Adhuc are the most genuine and horologically-respectable Kickstarter brand I have ever seen. So please, please do not discount them as another Kick-starter-no-starter!
As I said above, please do go and check out Semper & Adhuc at their website:
I would like to thank Colin de Tonnac for giving us this amazing opportunity to write about his fantastic brand. Hopefully this is the start of a longstanding relationship that we are very grateful to have been able to start.
Founder & Editor
Editor & Co-Founder