When speaking of watches, there is a tendency to equate them with Switzerland. This is quite natural, since the majority of the world’s better known and respected watchmakers are indeed Swiss. The industry has, over the years, become dominated by only a handful of faceless monolithic owners, under whom there had been a repositioning of watch brands, which has, in turn lead to many previously reasonably-priced brands climbing to prices well beyond the means of the average consumer.
Recent developments haven’t all been for the worse, however, as together with the renaissance of mechanical watches there has been a resurgence of new watchmakers in the past few years.
The newest and at the same time one of the most interesting of the new micro watch brands is the Swiss watchmaker Sébastian Muller’s Brellum, whose Duobox Chronograph boasts an impressive claim to fame: a watch based on the Valjoux 7750 automatic movement, COSC certified and finished to top industry specifications for a reasonable price – about £1,800 in this case. (2,390 CHF including worldwide shipping, before national customs charges and applicable taxes.)
The above promise was evocative enough to prompt us to contact Mr. Muller, which began a lengthy correspondence that helped us to understand what is…
… The Brellum Story.
To understand Brellum, one has to look into the past, all the way back to 1885. This is when the Muller family first began their foray into watchmaking; making Sébastien a fourth generation watchmaker. This family background was a major contributing factor, along with prompting and support by his wife Christiane, that lead the 42-year-old Mr. Muller back to his roots after 25 years of various positions within the watchmaking industry. That is to say, both his family’s roots and the roots of quality watchmaking – an uncompromising attitude and pride toward hand-crafting.
The idea, the essence of Brellum, had been incubating in Mr. Muller’s mind for a decade, until one day his wife said he should follow his dream. This prompted a two-year design process for both the Mullers, as Christiane is herself an industrial designer. The couple had a very clear cut division of labour; Sébastien designed the watch and Christiane was responsible for translating his vision into a working 3D-model. This is a working marriage of both classic and state-of-the-art watch design at its finest.
At the final stages of designing the Duobox watch, the Mullers quite literally retreated to the mountains for a week, to a small cabin on the outskirts of Gstaad, to finish the final and crucial details of the watch, accompanied only by the stunning views and jazz music.
At the very heart of Brellum is a foundation of Northern Swiss mountains, the very same ones that run through the heart of the canton of Jura, the watchmaking capital of the world.
A telling sign of Mr. Muller’s uncompromising attitude is that the entire design process has been kept in the couple’s hands, without outside financing. This long route was chosen purposefully, as they wanted to keep the design free of outside pressure and demands. A vision this strong doesn’t call for compromise.
In Mr. Sébastien Muller’s own words, Brellum represents the type of thinking where, respecting traditions, the most cutting-edge production methods are utilized to bring to the consumer the highest possible quality and precision – not forgetting timeless design – and, by cutting out unnecessary middlemen, at a price point that most can afford.
The Origin of the Name and the Symbol
When we asked where the inspiration for the name Brellum came from, the answer came right off the shelf. The letter B stems from Sébastien’s home village, Bonfol, in the Ajoie region, Porrentruy District of the canton of Jura. The rest of the name is Muller backwards. In addition, bellum is Latin for battle or war, which is a fitting reminder that each of us is locked in an ongoing battle against time. The symbol of Brellum is the mythical beast, the Wyvern, which is a common feature throughout the Ajoie region.
A Few Words About the Duobox
The First watch offering from Brellum is the Duobox, available in three watch face colours and different straps and bracelets. Brellum refers to the Duobox as a dress chronograph, which is indeed fitting in both style and dimensions.
The Duobox Chronometer’s technical specifications are certainly cogent. The refined and beautifully decorated Valjoux 7750 automatic movement, a Swiss icon since its development in the 1970’s, COSC certification and a high quality watch face, with sapphire glass on both sides of the watch; combined with a high quality handmade leather strap or stainless steel Milanese bracelet and the “Swiss Made” marking is a combination that is rarely seen with this kind of price tag.
To ensure quality, only 299 Duobox watches will be sold a year.
Brellum can be found at brellum.swiss/en/
Translated from the original Finnish by Jan Hoffman.