Claude Meylan’s Tortue Lady “La Pointe de Sable” is elegant, understated and beautiful. It also comes with a great story of passion from within the watchmaking world.
Claude Meylan have been around since the 1980’s and already specialised in skeletonised watches. Being from L’Abbaye, typical village of the Vallée de Joux in Switzerland, traditional watchmaking is in their blood.
You may recognise the name Tortue Lady, as Claude Meylan already had a collection of it’s namesake, however a meeting set up between 2 people resulted in a fairy tale story when their personalities and love for watchmaking collided to create the Tortue Lady “La Pointe de Sable”.
Pia de Chefdebien from Claude Meylan explains the story which amplifies the history and passion above; the outcome being a unique piece:
I met Philippe Narbel at Salon QP… We talked about our Tortue Lady… He said he loved it and that he would love to buy it for his wife. He said it was the first time he saw a watch like that!
The only thing is that as he is a “Angleur” (he works for big names in la Vallée de Joux), he would open the watch and “work” a bit on it 😉
When he said that, I told him that before he open the watch, he could meet Philippe Belais (the owner of Claude Meylan) and talk to him. We realized that his office was at 40 meters (!!) from our Atelier at la Vallée de Joux. He came, and when he met with Philippe Belais, they got on so well that at the end of the meeting, Philippe B. Gave him one caliber, and said to Philippe N. That he can do what he wants ! Which is VERY unusual for P Belais!!!
And the result is “La Pointe de Sable”
Philippe Belais, owner of Claude Meylan adds “I could summarize it by PASSION. We met and an incredible chemistry took place. Our shared values, vision, and roots, made it obvious for me that Philippe Narbel had to express himself fully. Giving him « carte-blanche » was already in my mind after 2 minutes of exchange.”
Face & case
The case is in 316L Stainless Steel and in the shape of a tortoise (Tortue), a familiar shape from the Claude Meylan range.
At only 31mm across, it is a conservatively sized ladies watch, but there is definitely a lot to look at behind the sapphire crystal.
The face appears to be almost split up diagonally in a kind of ‘Yin and Yang’ shape, of which the dial is very small (less than half the height of the watch) and sits nestled into an area at 12 o’clock, between the bezel and centre of the face, on the right hand curved shape of polished steel, which is actually a hand engraved artistic landscape.
The sky, hills with trees, and a boat on water can be clearly seen here. Various techniques have been used, from hammering to scraping and brushing, but the most extraordinary feature being that the waves in the water appears to shimmer and move as the light catches it from different angles.
The rotor weight is also beautifully decorated and rotates on a central axis, at the same size as the dial, but symmetrically on the lower part of the face.
Moving up the left of the face, main components, such as the balance wheel and bridge, as well as other elements of the caliber are visible, but from the front side and in a contrasting metal finish, which works well visually.
Where there is no engraving or movement at the bottom, the watch is completely transparent.
The crown is proportionally big, with good depth to the ridges for grip. The faint outline of a bear head (with eyes and nose), as well as 3 fish on a rectangle diagonally across it, can be seen engraved on the edge of the crown.
The skeletonised back of the Tortue Lady is very pretty too. Completely openworked and visible through the full sapphire back, every piece has been carved out to allow maximum exposure into the caliber, with multiple metal types and finishes used to create depth.
The words “La Pointe de Sable” can be seen clearly engraved in hand, across the main rotor bridge.
The only visible fixings are four small screws on the back (one located at each of the lugs) hold a fixing plate down.
Claude Meylan have created the open worked Calibre 7.75CM17, which I understand is based on a modified ETA 2671. There is not much physically left of it, due to it being skeletonised, but it has also been adapted to fit the shape of the case (The ETA 2671 was designed to fit into a round case)
Featuring 25 jewels, the heart beats at a frequency of 28’800 A/h and expect around 38 hours power reserve once fully powered up.
The strap is made from printed technological satin and is bright white. The appearance is similar to a soft canvas, however as it has been printed, there are obviously no flaws or thread pulls. The texture is almost silk like and I am sure very comfortable.
Fitting is by a traditional buckle and pin; and is stainless steel with an easily read “Claude Meylan” printed across it in bold caps, one word on either side of the buckle pin.
The strap was unfortunately too short to close around my wrist, so we have a lady modelling the on the wrist shot.
The Claude Meylan Tortue Lady La Point de Sable could well be the watch that many ladies have been looking for.
There seem to be very few watches for ladies that are not either small faced, with plain looking dials, or the complete opposite; flashy pieces adorned with diamonds and jewels. The Tortue Lady La Point de Sable sits comfortably in the middle.
I expect it could be worn as an every day piece and will almost certainly be a conversation starter whenever it is.
This unique piece is priced at a very reasonable 15,500 CHF, so expect it will have already found a proud owner.