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november 22, 2023


The Dizzyingly Handsome Berneron Mirage Pushes Asymmetry to Unprecedented Levels

Where do we start with a watch that seemingly breaks traditional conventions regarding style and substance? With the visionary individual that created it seems like a good start. Sylvain Berneron, the founder of his eponymous brand, is the Creative Director for Breitling and, through the support of Breitling CEO Georges Kern, was enabled to set out on his own. In development for a couple of years, Sylvain has been teasing the launch of his Mirage over the past few months. Now that we have a complete image, it turns out the Mirage is a truly mesmerizing watch, a debut piece that has certainly grabbed the full attention of collectors and journalists! But there’s far more to the story of Berneron, and the Mirage for that matter, than just an enticing design.

Sylvain Berneron and his wife, Marie-Alix Berneron, set out to create a unique watch from top to bottom. His vision was not to be limited by existing design conventions, and no compromises were made to make his dream watch a reality. And judging by what is now before us, he has achieved his goals. There’s always some form of restriction within design, especially in a corporate environment. Very few people and even fewer brands seem to be able to unleash their full creative potential and not be pulled back due to concerns surrounding budget or ergonomics, to name just two. Basically, the Mirage is a watch designed out of creative rebellion, encompassing all of Sylvain’s ideas people might have turned down in his career.

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It must be said it took me a few seconds to wrap my head around the Mirage. The unique design is nothing short of, well, a Mirage as it jumbles your senses at first. The case, which comes in white or yellow gold and measures 33.50mm by 37.50mm by 7.00mm, is designed using the principles of the Golden Ratio. The result is an asymmetrical case that’s both classically elegant and refreshing yet also slightly reminiscent of the Cartier Crash or Salvador Dali’s melting clocks. Details such as the oval-shaped offset crown or the caseband extending over the strap end add an unprecedented level of character.

Everything under the hesalite crystal flows with the exterior. The solid gold dial matches the case and carries a blue or burgundy sector-like design with an integrated small seconds display, all designed by Sylvain himself, even down to the unique font. A detail that demonstrates his way of thinking is the reverse order of the stacking of the curved 18k gold hands. Normally, the longer minutes hand would be on top of the shorter hour hand, but flipping the order frees up space for a stronger curvature of the crystal, resulting in a slimmer overall profile for the entire watch. Clever, but far from easy to achieve!

Enlisting the services of movement manufacturer Le Cercle de Horlogers (Louis Vuitton, Trilobe, Armin Strom), Sylvain Berneron aimed for a shaped movement to fit inside that beguiling case. It’s not often you see a movement that isn’t round, as it limits its versatility for use in future watches. There are not many watches with a movement that follows the exact shape of the case, and the majority are rectangular or square, but not this unconventional design. Nevertheless, it befits the watch perfectly and does not cut back on style and performance. It’s constructed out of solid gold plates and bridges and has the same flair as the rest of the Mirage, with curved spokes for the balance wheel and gears as well as a curved balance bridge.

In terms of specifications, we’re dealing with a manual-wound movement running at 21,600vph. It’s constructed out of 135 individual components and delivers a very decent power reserve of 60 hours. The movement itself is only 2.30mm in height, which is the main reason the Mirage comes in such pleasant dimensions. Sylvain Berneron is very open about the origins of the movement, even mentioning what components are shared with other calibres by Le Cercle. This includes the escape wheel and anchor, the hairspring, the sliding pignon and the jewels and screws. Overall, the majority of the parts are specific to the movement, but the transparency is appreciated!

The Berneron Mirage comes on a blue or burgundy-coloured grained calfskin leather strap. As with the rest of the watch, Sylvain cuts no corners when it comes to the strap, as it is fitted with a matching 18k gold pin buckle and attached to the case with 18k gold spring bars. And we’re not aiming to burst anyone’s bubble here, but the first two allocation slots are already fully booked. Sylvain opened the books for a 24-piece production run for 2023 and 2024. You can express interest in one of the 24 slots for the 2025 allocation directly with Berneron. The price for both models is set at CHF 55,000 (excl. VAT).

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