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Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 “Violet Edition” Watch Review

by Nov 26, 2023Chopin, Limited Edition

“Polish” and “Swiss watchmaking” are not words often heard in the same sentence, however, the 2 have come together to celebrate the life of Frédéric Chopin, the Polish composer and virtuoso pianist.

The watch brand Chopin, was founded in Warsaw (the Polish Capital city close to where Chopin lived) in 2019, by Michal Dunin, who you may also know from the relaunch of historical Polish watch brand, Błonie, back in 2012. 

Inspired by the revolutionary Étude (Opus 10 No. 12), each timepiece is of the highest quality of Swiss craftsmanship and represents a beautiful commemoration of the composer’s incredible achievements.

Michal explains the inspiration behind the Chopin watch:

With over a century of watchmaking tradition and decades of design experience, the brand combines the composer’s originality with contemporary watchmaking to commemorate the timeless heritage of an outstanding artist.  Passion for protecting the composer’s image is mirrored in the brand’s exclusive series, limited to the production of 56 watches.  With its utmost attention to every detail, the Chopin brand reflects the timelessness of the composer’s work and its appeal to the heart and soul.

Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 Violet Edition

Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 Violet Edition

Face & case

Presented in a 43mm polished stainless steel case, the Chopin watch has a double level bezel, which steps down smoothly from the slightly curved, sapphire crystal. The sides of the case are wrapped with 2 sets of engraved cross hatch lines, only broken by the placement of the polished steel lugs and crown on the right hand side.

A multi layered construction dial, starts with the highest point on the outer edge, which is a creamy/silver hour ring.  Look closer and you will see there are 5 lines engraved into it; their appearance being like musical staff lines, separated by applied indices, which in turn appear to represent double bars in the place of the hour markers.  Numerals for 10 and 12 o’clock replace the double bar markers, as a tribute to Chopin’s Étude in C minor Op. 10 No. 12.  The hour markers look black/navy blue in normal lighting conditions, but under sunlight they change to a bright reflective blue.   Short, thin, black minute markers can be seen at the outer edge, filling up the space between hour markers above the first staff line.

Inside the hour ring and on the lowest level, the majority of the dial is open; multiple parts of the movement are on view, with many different finishes and colours, the majority having a light silver frosted finish.   

There are 3 other main things going on in the intermediatory dial level, between the two main layers.  At 12 o’clock, stepping down from and in the same silvery/cream background colour as the outer ring, Chopin’s signature is printed in black.  Moving anti-clockwise around the dial, a power reserve indicator in the shape and design of a curved white and black piano keyboard, which is situated between just before 8 o’clock and just after 10 o’clock.  And finally, situated at 6 o’clock, is the dual level, violet purple subsidiary seconds dial with white printed markings (seconds markers and the words (OPUS 10 No. 12 CHOPIN REVOLUTIONARY ETUDE) and a subtle red rim made of carnelian, a precious volcanic stone.

The blue hands float above everything; designed to mimic styles popular during Chopin’s time, they have been plated to attain their bright blue hue, which are also positively animated by sunlight.

A subtle crown guard flanks either side of the substantial crown.  Its circumference has a deep ridge for ease of turning and the end is blue, with a polished finish.

There is just about as much (if not more) going on when looking at the back of the watch.  An exhibition sapphire window is circled by the screw down back frame; all polished, there are various markings around it, including brand name and model, watch number, Swiss Made, 50m water resistance and along the top, exclusively on this version of the watch, “XVIII CHOPIN COMPETITION  ONE OF FIVE”.

On to the movement and the first thing to notice, are the large 2 large barrels, with polished and outwardly brushed finish and engraved with black filled messages, one with the words “TIME IS THE BEST CENSOR AND PATIENCE THE MOST PERFECT OF TEACHERS” and the second inscribed with key dates in Chopin’s life (read more about these dates in the “Other Stuff” section below)

The main plates and bridges are all frosted in light silver rhodium plating and feature engravings, which are of hand written text.  There are multiple tiny jewels on the surfaces, as well as polished screw fixings.  Lastly, the final notable element has to be the deep red balance wheel – the heart of the timepiece beats at the bottom left.

Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 Violet Edition Case Back

Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 Violet Edition Case Back

Movement

The MSE 210 hand wound movement was manufactured by Schwarz Etienne, the end result here, being exclusively for Chopin.  Featuring a deep red balance wheel, which proved extremely difficult to execute without forcing changes in other elements of the movement.   

Comprised of 197 components, including 37 rubies and 2 barrels coupled in parallel, the movement beats at 21,600 vph (3Hz) and provides around 96 hours power reserve once fully wound.

Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 Violet Edition Side & Crown

Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 Violet Edition Side & Crown

Strap

Usually, a black alligator strap with black leather lining and black stitching is provided with the watch, however, in this instance, it comes with a satin black ostrich leg strap, with black stitching and a tan leather lining – this is the only Chopin branded strap of its type.

Fastening is done by a polished stainless steel butterfly clasp, which has the Chopin signature laser etched into it in the centre.

Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 "Violet Edition" Strap & Buckle

Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 “Violet Edition” Strap & Buckle

Other stuff

The composition of this watch is clearly based around the composer; much thought and expertise from multiple contributors has gone into the creation of it.

Starting with the design.  Handled by award winning Antoine Tschumi, the founder and artistic director of the prestigious and world renowned NeoDesis design studio.  He has over 20 years experience in designing luxury watches for a number of brands, including Breguet, Hublot, Czapek, Harry Winston, Greubel Forsey, and Hermes.

Secondly, the movement has been designed and produced by Schwarz Etienne, who have been around since 1902 and are still based in La Chaux de Fonds.  The family owned company has operated as a completely independent manufacturer since 2007 and focuses on tradition, producing mechanisms according to their own patents and making 100% in-house calibres.  Schwarz Etienne have successfully built themselves a reputation of being one of the best watch manufacturers in the world.

Lastly, the inspiration was fulfilled by the involvement of the Frederic Chopin Institute in Warsaw, which was established by Poland’s Parliament in 2001.  It is the world’s largest organisation working to protect and promote Frederic Chopin’s heritage and the only institution authorised to grant licenses for the use of the composer’s image. Obtaining a license from the Frederic Chopin Institute for creating a watch named after the famous composer is both a source of pride and an immense responsibility.  The Institute not only strives to promote Chopin’s image, but also to protect it – the production of Chopin brand watches is therefor limited to just 56 pieces.  

The Institute has held the International Chopin Piano Competition since 2010, hosting some of the world’s best in classical music, including Fu Ts’ong, Yundi Li and Yulianna Avdeeva.

In order to commemorate Chopin’s amazing life, some important dates from the composer’s life were inscribed onto the second barrel; this can be seen on the movement side of the watch.  These notable dates are as follows:

  • 1810 – The birth of Frederic Chopin in Zelazowa Wola
  • 1816 – First piano lesson
  • 1818 – First public performance
  • 1831 – Trip to Paris and the creation of the Revolutionary Etude
  • 1835 – Last meeting with parents in Karlovy Vary
  • 1838 – Beginning of relationship with George Sand
  • 1848 – Chopin’s trip to England/Scotland and last public performance
  • 1849 – Chopin’s death

The volcanic stone used around the circumference of the subsidiary seconds dial has a deep, red colour.  This was meant to symbolise the composer’s heart, which was embedded in a pillar of the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw on the 96th anniversary of his death, as per Chopin’s final will.   The urn with Chopin’s heart in it is still there today and his body is in a grave in the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 "Violet Edition" On the Wrist

Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 “Violet Edition” On the Wrist

Our verdict

Pictures don’t really do this watch justice.  I say that, because whilst the Chopin watch has a classical design and looks “nice” in images, it wasn’t until I actually had one in my hands that I truly appreciated it.

The design is so well composed (sorry, no pun intended); from the multi layered dial, to the piano and musically derived design aspects, to the multiple different details on the movement and even the red balance wheel, which is supposed to capture the emotions expressed by Chopin in his work.  The pop of purple on the dial also adds a bit more “fun” to the dial, as opposed to the original version, which has a silver and white subdial

43mm sounds like it should be too big for a “classic” watch like this.  Off the wrist, it does have the appearance of a 43mm watch, however, on the wrist, it looks more like a 41mm (to me anyway), which fits into my personal preferences well.  The appearance of size reduction could be due to the multi layered bezel making the dial look slightly smaller.

The Chopin watch sits well on the wrist and has a good bit of weight to it – one could almost be convinced the case was made from a precious metal due to its weight.  It also appears quite chunky, but at just over 10mm, it isn’t really and should fit comfortably under most cuffs, with the added help of the smooth top edges and crystal.

If I had to pick hairs on any dislikes around the watch, the only thing I might change, is perhaps losing the cross hatched finish around the case (and this is really reaching for something to be negative about)

At 16,500 CHF, the Chopin watch is by no means cheap, however, you definitely get your money’s worth.  The watch exudes quality in every aspect and the fact there are only 56…. well…. actually, 5 pieces of this particular version in the world, I doubt you would see another one in the room.

If you are a fan of music, Chopin, or just appreciate the finer things in life, I am pretty sure that you will not be disappointed when you receive your Chopin Opus 10 No. 12 – whether you manage to secure the last of the Violet Edition, or one of the other 51 pieces.

https://chopinwatches.com/

Available to purchase directly from us – the last of the 5 violet pieces made is still available (as of the date of this review) – BUY NOW

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