Three watch-world powerhouses teamed up on a gorgeous new vintage-inspired timepiece

The 1952 Observatory Dial Limited Edition is the brainchild of Phillips, Massena LAB, and renowned designer Raúl Pagès

Over the course of horological history, some of the most beloved timepieces have come to life as the result of simple conversations between friends who share a passion for the art of watchmaking. Among watch lovers, what might start as an evening of food and fellowship will inevitably lead back to the topic of timepieces—a problem to solve, a dream design to be created. This sets our stage for the origin story of the new 1952 Observatory Dial Limited Edition, developed in collaboration with longtime friends Aurel Bacs, senior consultant for Phillips Watches; Alexandre Ghotbi, Phillips deputy chairman and head of watches, Europe and Middle East; and William Massena, founder of Massena LAB along with award-winning independent Spanish watchmaker Raúl Pagès.

“We loved the Magraph that William had launched using a proprietary movement developed by the great Raúl Pagès and a tribute to the beautiful vintage Audemars Piguet VZS calibres,” shared Bacs and Ghotbi. This went on to lay the foundation for the 1952 Observatory Dial Limited Edition. This model houses the manual-wind, proprietary calibre M690 from the 2022 Magraph Limited Edition, marking its first-ever appearance in a publicly released wristwatch. “The movement is a nod to the JB champion chronometer,” William Massena told us today when asked about the inspiration for the project. “We love these movements that were made for precision timing like some cars were made for racing.”

For this brand new collaborative watch, the design of the Patek Philippe Ref. 2458 made for Joe Ben “J.B.” Champion, Jr. also informs the dial configuration. Here, the sub-seconds register is situated at nine o’clock and, in perfect symmetry, a second “register” sits opposite at three o’clock. In the original 2458, this subdial featured text reading “Geneva Observatory” framing the movement number “Bulletin No. 961121,” and for the 1952 Observatory Dial Limited Edition, we get the collaborators’ brand names. “The dial was really fun to make,” adds Massena. “I love the contrast of the two tones of grey against the yellow gold.”

At first glance, the model takes a rather monochromatic aesthetic with a perfectly sized 38.5mm stainless steel build and complementary gray dial. However, the yellow gold accents on the indices and hands provide a subtle pop of contrast. The full package pays homage to the golden era of watchmaking while remaining resolutely relevant to contemporary aesthetic codes.

The 1952 Observatory Dial is available today in a limited run of just 99 pieces, priced at 8,000 CHF and can be purchased exclusively through Phillips.

This story was first published on Robb Report USA