Deep Dive

We spoke to Rémi Maillat, founder of Krayon, and a watch design engineer on the brand’s exceptional approach

Krayon focus on novel complications like sunrise and sunset times, along with craftsmanship and wearability
Krayon’s creation for 2023-2024 Only Watch charity auction, held in Geneva on May 10, did exceptionally well. The 39mm Kyayon Anywhere Only Watch 2024 in a shade of blue featuring a one-off dial created exclusively for the auction, generated US $484,264 for the charity auction. The watch featured a striking new Metiers d’Art technique of miniature painting using pointillism in blue tones, inspired from a painting by neo-impressionist artist Theo van Rysselberghe. As is the signature of Krayon ‘Anywhere’ watches, the watch could tell the sunrise and sunset times at any place in the world chosen by the wearer.

Kyayon Anywhere Only Watch 2024

Krayon’s founder Rémi Maillat has built a brand with a celestial focus, so much so that the Anywhere watch in white gold won in the Calendar and Astronomy category at GPHG 2022. The Anywhere watch is a combination of two standout features. One, as mentioned earlier, is the sunrise and sunset times of any one place in the world, chosen by the wearer, and by extension the length of the day and night in that location. The watch shows this with the help of peripheral, layered sapphire rings that separate the length of the day into parts—day represented in sky blue and night in dark blue—which extend, reduce, or stay the same. In this ring, a small, carefully finished sun circulates in perpetual motion, indicating the time over 24 hours. The watch is able to achieve this with the help of two things—taking into account latitudes (if you live near the equator, days and nights remain fairly equal all year long; as you move nearer to the poles, the length of days and nights varies considerably) and a simple calendar that features at 6 o’clock. Powering the watch is the hand-wound Cal. C030, which integrates this geographical factor via a mechanical positioning system based on racks and yokes. The regulating mechanism for the day and night discs, a distinctive screw system, is located at 6 o’clock and can be seen through the caseback. On either side, two discreet screws facilitate its adjustment by an expert watchmaker.

The GPHG-winning Anywhere white gold Ref. C030-01

While universal time watches largely stick to certain cities, what Anywhere does is personalise the watch, almost in a romantic way, to the city of the wearer’s choosing. The watch, however, functions with the location that it has been set with, by the watchmaker. All the wearer needs to do is set the calendar and time—done via the crown—and the sunrise and sunset times become evident. If the wearer wants a change in the location, the watchmaker at Krayon would be the one affecting it.

While it is fascinating to experience this complication, the watch also wins points for design. This is a 39mm white-gold watch, whose hour and minute hands are set on a blue engraved background of imaginary latitudes and longitudes that converge at the 6 o’clock calendar subdial. Details like pyramid-shaped hour markers and Super-LumiNova stars on the night disc further add to the aesthetics. The finishing on the movement is exceptional as well—there is fine bevelling, polishing, and beautiful Geneva stripes.

Crafting parts of the Calibre C030

Anywhere is the creation of Rémi Maillat, watch design engineer and founder of Krayon, who established the brand in 2013, initially as an engineering studio with the view “to create new movements and complications and materialise his vision of the watchmaking art”. He launched Anywhere in 2020, a natural progression of his Everywhere watch, a more complex 600-component timepiece displaying exact sunrise and sunset times anywhere in the world, adjusted by the wearer through the crown. Not surprisingly, the watch won the 2018 GPHG Innovation Watch Prize.
Anywhere rose gold Ref. C030-02

Sunrise and sunset times take centre-stage in Maillat’s creations; it is an idea that came to him from personal experience. “I enjoy snorkelling and freediving, and the best moment to see more wildlife is the exact sunrise. It was always a challenge to know the sunrise time in different seasons and places around the world and not miss a unique opportunity to enjoy it. I started imagining a watch that would provide this information, and that we can set for any location,” says Maillat.

What’s equally admirable is that while highly complicated, Maillat’s execution is wearable, a combination not easily achieved. This, he says, is the very basis of good design. “In terms of [good] technical design, [what is key is] I would say the ingenuity of the mechanism and its ability to achieve advanced function while staying quite simple. In terms of the watch and aesthetics, ergonomics is one of the important aspects. It should be wearable in size and shape, and also provide an enjoyable feeling in the use of the functions. It should offer a lot in both dial and movement, and have a strong identity and many little details you would discover throughout the ownership of the watch.”

Maillat’s base in micromechanical engineering set the foundation for this love for mechanics, not to mention the fact that he grew in a family that deeply enjoys mathematics—his father is an engineer in tribology (the study of friction and wear of interacting surfaces), and his mother a maths professor. “I discovered more in-depth watch movement and complications while I was studying microtechnology engineering in Le Locle. I was always interested in conceiving mechanisms and I realised that the watch movement is a combination of engineering, mathematics, and art, and this artistic aspect is really what made me fall in love with watches. It is not only about conceiving a mechanism that achieves a function, it is about creating a 
piece of art.”

The adjustable cam for the sunrise and sunset complication

Maillat today works with a small team of eight people at his design engineering studio in Neuchâtel. He designs and develops everything, including Krayon components, and all watches are assembled in the Krayon workshop, though the brand works with partners in the nearby Jura region who have milling machines to produce raw components that are then decorated and assembled in the workshop. “We created the decoration and the tools and techniques to craft it, both for the movement and the unique ‘Krayon waves’ on the bridges, and the metiers d’art dial, which is a miniature painting over an engraved dial,” says Maillat.

Given the in-house development and craftsmanship, Krayon produces less than 50 watches a year. Currently, due to the popularity and personalised nature of Anywhere, the brand has chosen to pause the complex, resource-consuming Everywhere, which is positioned at an entry price of CHF 700,000 (Anywhere is priced at CHF 138,000, excluding taxes). “We also decided to slow down on unique pieces. As the waiting list on Anywhere is so long, we had to prioritise our existing customers,” explains Maillat.
Krayon Everywhere

Maillat has created several versions of Anywhere—Ref. C030-10 is a white-gold one, while Ref. C030-20 is rose gold. The now sold-out Anywhere Métiers d’Art Azur features a striking enamel mosaic on its dial, and the Lady Anywhere is rose gold with blush pink tones. “The aim was to offer our collectors timepieces with complications that are useful and that had never been done before. Whatever complication we develop, our timepieces need to remain wearable.”

Anywhere Métiers d’Art Azur

So, what’s next from Krayon? “Surprise! What we can say: A timepiece that will be easy to wear, a complication that will be useful, and [that has] never been done before.”

Note: This story first appeared in WatchTime India's April-June 2023 issue

Images: Courtesy brand

Launched in 2012, WatchTime India is the result of a collaboration between America's most-read watch magazine, WatchTime and, India's leading media house, Malayala Manorama. With an aim to popularise and celebrate the evolving watch culture of the country, the publication is your one-stop destination for everything related to fine luxury watches. From the latest tests to reviews, to exclusive features on the history and horological heritage of some of the most spectacular watch brands of the world, the WatchTime India portal has a lot to offer. Stay tuned for an exciting journey, through the fascinating world of watches!

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