I am wondering if Belgium is not becoming a country that counts in the watchmaking world. We can legitimately ask the question since Belgian professionals have distinguished themselves for many years and in very different segments. We obviously think about Ressence, Ice-Watch ... without forgetting the talented Belgian watchmakers who work within a lot of brands. I am convinced that Belgian influence is constantly growing and my recent meeting with Bernard Van Ormelingen only confirms this feeling.
Bernard Van Ormelingen and Sébastien Lambricht are two young watchmakers who met more than 7 years ago at the Watchmaking School of Namur. After studying together, they then developed their own professional projects. Sébastien Lambricht became workshop manager at Ressence, being in charge of prototyping while Bernard Van Ormelingen owns a company called Bernies which creates bespoke guilloche dials. And then, when you have talent, you want to express it: this is the reason why they decided a little over a year ago to start their own company in order to be able to present their first joint watch. This company is called Van Bricht, a kind of contraction of the names of the two founders. Finally, the watch they developed together proceeds from the same logic. It is the culmination of the pooling of their respective specialties and strengths. The objective was to offer a high-level watch, in steel, which can be worn without worry on a daily basis and showcasing their passion for watchmaking and their knowledge learned on the bench of the School. They can be proud of the result since they have unquestionably succeeded in achieving their ambition.
This first watch is called Old Mind. Given their background and the place where they met, I would almost have preferred it to be called Old School. But the connotation might have been too negative. In any case, the meaning of the message is clear: the Old Mind is a watch designed and decorated according to the principles of traditional watchmaking. From an aesthetic point of view, the watch offers little surprise. Its style is classic and the dial is extremely simple in its presentation: the brand name is inscribed at the top, the words "tourbillon" and "guilloché main" are discreetly at the base and for the rest, the dial doesn't offer any numeral nor additional writing. The reason is simple: the goal was to highlight the guilloche work and the tourbillon. It is fully reached.
The watch I had the opportunity to see had a guilloche pattern in waves, creating a kind of dynamic and moiré effect around the opening of the tourbillon (a barley corn pattern dial is also available). I really liked this work which provides proof of the capabilities of Bernard Van Ormelingen's company. The pattern thus nicely and efficiently decorates the dial in bleached solid silver and gives it a very bright character. Reading the time is easy thanks to the peripheral scale of the minutes made up of dots and applied indexes. These polished and rhodium-plated german silver indexes bring volume to the dial and contribute to the perceived quality. The scale made of dots is also used around the tourbillon which carries a second hand. This reinforces the aesthetic coherence of the whole.
The opening on the tourbillon is impressive: it occupies the entire area between the axis of the hands and the peripheral scale. This generous opening is very appreciable for me: it allows the tourbillon to breathe (I don't like watches where I have the feeling that the tourbillons don't have any space around), to make us take full advantage of the revolutions of the cage and observe the finishing work carried out.
The movement that powers the Old Mind is not an in-house caliber. It is the movement T02 from BCP Tourbillons and I am very happy that the two young Belgian watchmakers made this choice because I consider this tourbillon caliber as one of the most interesting on the market. Admittedly, it is not the thinnest, nor the fastest nor the lightest. But the will of Olivier Mory, its creator, was to design a rational, reliable, practical and resistant caliber on a daily basis ... in other words, a caliber corresponding perfectly to the objective pursued with the Old Mind. Even if it doesn't belong to the category of exceptional tourbillons (it is after all a classic tourbillon which cage does a full revolution in 60 seconds), the movement T02 nonetheless has excellent features and performances : a manufacture entirely made in Switzerland, nearly 110 hours of power reserve for a frequency of 3hz, an impact resistance of more than 5.000G, basic finishes which are decent and qualitative parts such as the balance wheel with variable inertia from Atokalpa. In addition, the movement is initially set with an accuracy interval of -2 / + 6 seconds (and so can be easily upgraded to meet the chronometer standards). In short, an ideal engine for the Old Mind.
The movement T02 was delivered in its basic version with the simple shapes of the bridges. Then Bernard Van Ormelingen and Sébastien Lambricht reworked the elements (apart from the wheels and the cage) so that the decorative context of the movement corresponded to the pursued ambition. The result is up to par and I really like the finish of the bridges (hammered by fork) which gives this very special look. The decorative style on the movement side is in any case consistent with the presentation of the dial: it is sober and it is executed with great care.
However, I would make the same reproaches on both sides of the watch: perhaps a little prisoners of their desire to embody a traditional approach, the two watchmakers released a work from gifted but wise students. The whole breathes quality but it however lacks madness. On the movement side, I would have liked, for example, more pronounced bridge shapes, more opening, more inward angles. On the dial side, I would have appreciated a more daring attitude in the design but I must admit that the double animation coming from the tourbillon and the reflections of light generated by the guilloche is very attractive.
Either way, the Old Mind is a very comfortable watch to wear. Its dimensions are reasonable and balanced (a diameter of 40mm for a thickness of 10.6mm) and the steel case, classic but exclusive, is both comfortable and elegant. The long and curved shape of the lugs gives a slender style. The sapphire crystal which almost entirely encompasses the diameter of the watch and the hands in mirror polished finish reinforce the luminous dimension of the dial. Because at the end of the day, I would only use one adjective to describe this watch: it is luminous because it incredibly captures the light and it manages to play with it.
So, of course, as I said earlier, I would have liked the Belgian duo to be more daring and more rock'n'roll. But after all, this watch exudes sincerity and is only the result of the expression of their passion and their conception of traditional watchmaking. The price of 45,000 euros before tax can be perceived as high in this classic context. But the quality of the execution of the whole and the fact of being made in a very small series (25 watches will be produced) can justify it. Note that the pattern of the dial can be personalized on request ... this is one of the advantages offered by Bernard Van Ormelingen's company!
+ the finish of the dial
+ the performance of the caliber T02
+ the hammered by fork finish
+ a balanced and luminous watch
- I would have liked more ambition in the presentation of the movement, in particular in the bridges shapes
- a little more aesthetic audacity on the dial side would have been welcome