Here’s my review of Maison Celadon’s Imperial Peacock. It’s about one year since I’ve got it, so I can be very outspoken having tested its qualities in everyday use.
The Imperial Collection consists of 4 models: 3 with a guilloché dial, in white or red or blue color, where the work on the dial reminds the plum blossoms; and a special model, the Imperial Peacock, available only in creamy white tone, with a wonderful peacock engraved, that shows its magnificent tail.
The watches of the Imperial Collection are visible here:
and, in particular, the subject of this review, the Imperial Peacock, can be viewed here:
Introduction to Celadon’s Imperial Peacock review
Maison Celadon was founded in 2012 by a project of Benjamin Chee, an eclectic entrepreneur of Chinese origins, born in Singapore, already active in other sectors of luxury. Benjamin is a distinguished gentleman, a person of great taste, with a strong passion for fine watchmaking, fashion, design and exclusive objects.
Being frequently traveling around the world and having also lived in London, he wanted to debunk, with his Maison Celadon, the myth of low-end Chinese watches, giving life to a mid-high range timepiece line provided with high-grade materials and finishing that could proudly reaffirm the archetypes of Chinese culture, declined with a truly excellent price/quality ratio. The motto “Made in China with Pride” (engraved on each watch) is therefore born with the very same Maison Celadon.
It’s interesting to remember that the name “Celadon” refers to the celebrated ancient artistic tradition of Chinese porcelain, which is located in the province of Zhejiang and which is one of the renowned excellences since the time of Imperial China.
Premise: I am NOT connected, directly or indirectly, with Maison Celadon, so I tried to describe and share – at my best – the impressions I’ve caught, wearing for an year this Imperial Peacock.
Furthermore, this test drive is absolutely not sponsored so my review reflects my true opinion.
Those who personally know me, also know that I am an extremely unhortodox watch collector, who doesn’t buy watches for “investment” purpose and who has no preconception or snobbery about the geographical origin of any brand: that’s why I don’t complain about the absence of any historical heritage.
As a typical engineer, I limit myself to analyzing and assessing the manufacturing, the design, the technical contents and the architectural characteristics of the mechanical movement. What turns me on is usually the level of finishing and the perceived price/quality ratio, referring to the technical contents of each timepiece.
For the reasons mentioned above, I wanted, for pure curiosity and for my personal pleasure, to be the first Italian buyer of a Celadon watch. So I opted for the most iconic model available at that time: the Imperial Peacock.
In Chinese iconography, in fact, the peacock is the animal that best and most symbolizes and embodies the gifts of beauty, grace and nobility.
I also wanted to have a “dress watch” for cocktail purpose or for big occasions, with the discriminating condition that I shouldn’t have to see anything like mine, on someone else’s wrist.
The Imperial Peacock was the perfect candidate: 50 numbered pieces produced, 38 mm case width and an ideal thickness to be discreet under the cuff of a shirt, a wonderfully worked guilloché dial with the peacock imprinted while showing the wheel, a minimal configuration with just two blued hands and no date display, hand wound mechanical movement. All offered with a full 10 year warranty!
In daily use, the watch has proved to be very discrete but of great scenic presence too. The case diameter of 38mm and a weight just over 50gr. make it extremely portable and also suitable for smaller wrists; the thickness of 9.5mm helps to perceive it very comfortable and never invasive or clumsy on the wrist. A great visual impact is obtained thanks to the lugs design, popping out gently from the curved case profile. The “spider” lugs, are also shaped and curved to perfectly embrace the wrist. A beautiful onion crown completes the case design and enhances the pleasantness of the whole project.
The main focus on the Imperial Peacock, however, it’s the dial: extraordinarily poetic because of the three-dimensionally engraved peacock, with the technique of guillochage. The color contrast between the creamy dial background and the blue of hands and indexes, manually flamed, adds character and class to this extraordinary timepiece.
The time reading is immediate and easy. Certainly thanks to the (already mentioned) color contrast but also partly due to the minimal configuration with two hands only.
The blued indexes and hands stand out nicely from the cream dial. Since it’s a timepiece whose vocation is elegance, night-time legibility and therefore the application of luminescent material hasn’t obviously been contemplated.
The three-dimensional engraved peacock on the dial it’s absolutely not invasive and doesn’t divert attention during the reading of time.
The caliber of this Imperial Peacock is extremely interesting, both for it’s architecture but also for it’s high level of refinishing.
Benjamin, not having an internal research and development department at Maison Celadon, called on the atelier of the Beijing Watch Factory Company (北京 手表厂) which is one of the historical Chinese watch factories located in Beijing. Founded in 1958, BWAF is one of the most interesting and innovative haute horlogerie companies in China. The factory is known to be led by Maitre Horloger Xu Yaonan, the father of Chinese tourbillons; with over sixty years of experience, Master Xu is assisted by other talented watchmakers, such as Shi Wenly, Su Wenbin and the young Zhao Zhenling known all over the world of horology for having designed and conceived, just at 22 years old, a tourbillon with repeating minutes, immediately followed by a triaxial tourbillon, the “the infinite”, for the first time 3D printed.
I would also like to mention another great Chinese Master: Ma Xushu, member of the AHCI (Academie Horlogere des Createurs Independants), the well-known organization that supports some of the best independent watchmakers in the industry, including the famous Kari Voutilainen, Philippe Dufour, etc. demonstrating that China is not only the home of low cost and replicas but it’s nowadays one of the main players in the international watchmaking market, since it supplies most of the components to the famous Swiss brands.
The sponsor of Ma Xushu, considered one of the 44 best independent watchmakers of our time, is Marco Lang, on which I don’t believe there’s nothing more to say.
The caliber of the Imperial Peacock, if not engraved with Chinese ideograms, could have been easily defined as Saxon, as it shares the typical style and architecture of german watchmaking: stripe decorated 3/4 plate, rubies into gold chatons, swan’s neck regulator and blued screws, according to the classical Saxon tradition.
The movement is a hand wound BWAF SB18-6, in its essential and most elegant configuration: with 2 hands only and no date at all.
The mechanism is very thin and, as already mentioned before, beautifully finished and decorated. There’s also the possibility of customizing the outer plate with golden engravings, to match the needs of the insatiable connoiseur collectors.
The SB18-6 is the latest version developed by BWAF evolving an already excellent project: the SB18, introduced in 2006 and still considered as one of the most reliable existing Chinese movements. It measures 26 × 4.01 mm and beats at 21.600 Vph with a declared power reserve of over 42 hours (in my own watch, I’ve left it running for almost 58 hours!), the plates are all perlage decorated, except for the upper one that is stripe embellished, there’s also an anti-shock device on the balance wheel axis.
Two pieces, round shaped case, all made of 316L steel, hypoallergenic and nickel free.
Classic design with “horn” lugs, protruding from the case profile of 2mm circa and an “onion” crown for time setting.
All mirror polished: a mandatory standard for elegant watches.
For my personal experience, I can say without any doubt that the quality of the finish is absolutely high-level, this is an excellent passport for a young microbrand, and shows lots of ambition and significant potential for other future products..
Crystal and caseback
Both the front and the back glasses are made of sturdy synthetic sapphire, with double anti-reflective coating too.
I was very pleased to not denote any color change towards green or blue tone variation, typical of some “coatings”. This anti glare treatment is so good that does not distort the color of the splendid dial below.
The transparent case back is screwed to the case and has just two simple informations engraved on the steel border of the sapphire window: the motto “Made in China with Pride” and the words “Celadon Imperial” followed by the l.e. watch number, that in my specific case is n°40 on 50 pieces produced.
It’s definitely the main point of strenght of the Celadon Imperial Peacock. In fact, it has a strong personality thanks to the deep threedimensionality of the peacock engraving. The cream color, combined with the two blued hands in the minimalistic configuration without seconds and date, emphasize the theatricality of the dial.
The choice of the peacock, as previously mentioned, is attributable to the Chinese iconography that associates this animal with the incarnation of beauty, class and noblesse.
It’s interesting to point out that the blueing of indexes and hands is manually obtained, using the traditional technique, which involves heating the metal to about 300° C.
38mm, crown excluded. The onion crown comes out for approx 3.5mm from the shape of the case.
9.2mm, including the crystal
Indexes and hands
Flame-blued, “dauphine” hands.
Lug to lug vertical distance
Not being indicated, it’s supposed to be simply “water resistant/not swimmable” that means, you can just wash your hands without dipping or diving at all.
20mm that tapers to 18mm at the clasp, made of genuine leather. Unfortunately the quality is poor, printed to resemble the crocodile skin pattern with a very plastic-like consistency.
The buckle, with a pleasantly refined design, is engraved, unfortunately only on the back side, with the Celandon logo: making the buckle anonymous.
In the photo galleries you’ll notice several different kinds of straps attached to my peacock (steel mesh, hammered mustard and red tone leather, dark blue gator with white stitching, cobalt blue canvas and herringbone pattern fabric) as a proof of its extreme flexibility: those are all aftermarket straps, purchased by me to enrich and enhance the beauty of this watch.
Also the pictured buckles, the rectangular shaped one on the cobalt blue canvas strap, as well as the dual pushers butterfly clasp on the dark blue gator stap and the folding clasp on the metal bracelet, are custom made works I did by myself, laser engraving some vector drawings I made.
These customizations were necessary to remedy the original strap, really mediocre and absolutely unsuitable to complete a watch of this quality and level of finishing.
The Imperial Peacock isn’t offered into a traditional wooden watchbox, but comes in a red folded leather box, with golden engravings and two hanging leather tassels. Inside the lining is made of brown velvet.
OTHER MODELS: COLOURS & OPTIONS
Imperial: with guilloché dial
– Blanc de Chine
– Midnight Blue
Celestial: with silk handmade embroidered dial or in bespoke enamel (the “bespoke masterpiece”)
– Silk / the duo of swallows
– Silk / the bird of paradise
– Silk / the azure songbird
– Bespoke Masterpiece / in cloisonné enamel (only upon request, also the design of the dial is custom made to match any collectors’ taste and desire)
Yue Fei: sports diving watch (20ATM / 200m), with rotating bezel
Custom made bespoke straps of various shapes, colors and materials are available, also with the possibility of engraving the inner side, according to customer’s requests.
It’s also possible to customize the engraving on the external plate of the movement, visible through the case back.
It’s possible to personalize the leather case of the watch too.
A luxury box, called “the throne“, made of lacquered wood and internally lined in leather, is also available as an extra.
Only upon special order, the watch case can be casted in precious metals (yellow/red/white gold, platinum).
- Imperial: $ 998 USD
- Celestial Silk: $ 1598 USD
- Celestial Bespoke Masterpiece: $ 9998 USD (unique model, only upon order)
- Yue Fei: $ 998 USD
The shipping costs must be added to the above prices.
The Imperial Peacock proves to be a really excellent wristwatch for it’s quality/price ratio, especially considering it’s movement and the overall refinishing level.
Unfortunately it’s not perfect and there are some improvements that I would like to underline:
the packaging made of a red leather case, despite valuable, is absolutely suitable just to Asian taste. I’d rather have opted for a wooden box and I absolutely don’t think it has to be offered an extra. It simply should be standard.
The strap offered as a standard equipment of the Celadon Imperial is really a poor quality one. Rigid, croco printed leather, feeling too plastic. Even if I can understand that there could be bureaucratic difficulties in exporting exotic leathers, it still remains qualitatively unacceptable!
The anonymous buckle would have been preferable with a logo imprinted on upper – visible – side, rather than on the underside. Even better if equipped with a “butterfly” folding clasp”.
The movement is fine and clearly of superior quality but it’s not and in-house caliber, directly manufactured by Maison Celadon.
It’s a pity that the Beihai model, made by Beijing Watch Factory (BWAF), even if provided with the seconds hand at 6 o’clock, less refinished and decorated and without that beautifull peacock dial, still has the same case, crown, hands and movement of the Imperial. But it’s offered at prices ranging between 350 and 600 US dollars, depending on the models and features/finishes. Of course the Celadon is very reworked and beautifully customized compared to the Beihai, so perhaps it could have been more contained the extra outlay.
Although the watch is very simple and minimalistic, it would have been way better to include a small instruction booklet – even if only translated in English/Chinese – with at least the tech specs, water resistance and some more basic information provided to customers.
INFO & CONTACTS
- For furthers infos, visit: https://maisonceladon.com/
- Or send an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As stated before, I am NOT affiliated with Celadon, so I’ll not be able to reply to any of your questions and/or inquiries, so I invite you to contact Maison Celadon directly through the official channels for futher informations, if needed.
The pics in the white softbox were taken by Viola Cappelletti, with a Canon 5D / Mark IV, while the wristshots and other sets were made by me, with my Samsung S7 mobile phone.
No filters, no color correction or postproduction has been done to these pictures, in order to be as more realistic as possible.
There are also some photos kindly provided directly by Maison Celadon.
I hope you enjoyed reading. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!