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Pim Koeslag interview by Angus Davies from

Pim Koeslag, Ateliers deMonaco

Angus Davies chats to Pim Koeslag, CEO of Ateliers deMonaco about his professional background and the high-end brand he manages, including the company’s patented systems and the production of bespoke watches.

Pim Koeslag, Ateliers deMonaco

In 2008, Pim Koeslag, Robert van Pappelendam and Peter Stas established Ateliers deMonaco. Initially, the brand operated from a workshop in the sun-kissed principality of Monaco.

Peter Stas is probably best known for establishing the luxury marque, Frederique Constant, with his wife and co-founder Aletta Stas. While Frederique Constant is synonymous with making affordable luxury watches, Ateliers deMonaco operates within the rarefied heights of haute horlogerie where price is of less importance. The brand’s watches encompass technical virtuosity, flawless finishing and, in some cases, artisanal crafts. Perhaps, most noticeably, the Maison has gained a reputation for crafting unique pieces and bespoke commissions.

Ultimately, Ateliers deMonaco relocated to Geneva where it now operates under the same roof as its sister brands, Alpina and Frederique Constant. In May 2016, Citizen Watch Company Ltd announced it had signed an agreement to acquire Frederique Constant Holding SA, including all three of its watchmaking brands.

Pim Koeslag, Ateliers deMonaco

Despite the change of ownership, Pim Koeslag remains CEO of Ateliers deMonaco as well as being the Technical Director of Alpina and Frederique Constant.

Recently, I met Pim Koeslag, a son of The Netherlands, and seized the opportunity to learn more about him and the high-end company he deftly manages.

Interview with Pim Koeslag, Ateliers deMonaco

What makes Ateliers deMonaco special?

We are a very innovative brand, able to explore many new, groundbreaking ideas. Of course, this is not just because of me, but because we have a talented research and development team and some fabulous watchmakers, experienced with working on high-end timepieces. We have patented several unique devices and systems not found elsewhere.

Can you provide a brief overview of your background to date?

Initially, I attended a goldsmith school in Amsterdam. At the time, I wanted to be a jeweller or goldsmith. In the first year of school I studied watchmaking, working with gold and silver and studying hand engraving. However, after just one week of attending college, I knew I wanted to be a watchmaker rather than a goldsmith.

Pim Koeslag, Ateliers deMonaco

I finished watchmaking school and then did an internship at Grönefeld, where I learnt a lot. Thereafter, I was named best watchmaker at the watchmaking school and the school arranged for me to go Patek Philippe for a couple of weeks of intensive training.

However, I first met Peter Stas while I was still at the watchmaking school when a group of the students, myself included, travelled to Geneva in order to visit Patek Philippe, Rolex and Vacheron Constantin. While in Geneva we were also keen to visit Frederique Constant because it was owned and operated by a Dutch couple, Aletta and Peter.

During our visit, Peter asked if anyone would be willing to help him with the development of a movement. He had the idea of making a manufacture movement but, at the time, he lacked the know-how and resources. I step forward and offered to help.

Pim Koeslag, Ateliers deMonaco

The week after, I returned to Geneva and started work on the project. Peter also brought on board one student from the watchmaking school in Geneva. That is how I began working for Peter. We unveiled our first movement, the hand-wound Calibre FC910, at Baselworld in 2004. It proved a huge success. Today, Frederique Constant has made 29 different calibres.

I believe you were instrumental in the creation of your company’s most complicated watch to date, the Tourbillon Répétition Minute.

What made you undertake such a complex task?

Despite creating numerous calibres for Frederique Constant, I had always dreamt of making a minute repeater. I suspect this desire came from having spent time at Grönefeld and Patek Philippe. Eventually, having discussed my idea with Peter Stas several times, he agreed to my developing our own minute repeater.

Once created, the minute repeater movement was presented to Peter who agreed that it looked beautiful and sounded wonderful. However, at the time he was not sure how it could be utilised. It certainly did not fit with the Frederique Constant collection, as it was too high-end.

Peter came back to me a couple of weeks later and suggested we set up another brand and he asked me if I would like to participate in this new company. Thereafter, Ateliers deMonaco was born.

Today, the brand has produced six different in-house movements and typically makes 150 pieces per annum. We are now able to produce beautiful watches, including unique pieces. 

How long did it take to develop the Tourbillon Répétition Minute?

It took 4.5 years to develop the watch.

I know when Ateliers deMonaco unveiled its perpetual calendar it was incredibly robust and also very user-friendly. Did you adopt a similar philosophy with the Tourbillon Répétition Minute?

Yes. There are various safeguards in place to reduce the risk of any potential damage.

I think this can be attributed to our experience with Frederique Constant where we make products for people to enjoy. We always ensure everything works reliably. This philosophy also applies to Ateliers deMonaco products.

On your website you describe the ‘eXtreme Precision 1 minute tourbillon’ as ‘one of the most accurate tourbillon movements in the world today’. Can you quantify this level of precision?

We have a patented system for ensuring the tourbillon cage is optimally balanced. The system includes fixing weights to the tourbillon cage. These weights can be adjusted in order to alter the moment of inertia.

The cage comprises of approximately 80 components and weighs 0.6 gramme. As the escapement is positioned on one side, the cage will prove heavier on that side. As the cage rotates, the heavier part of the cage will draw more power, impacting on the amplitude and ultimately the precision of the movement.

Our system, using various weights, ensures the weight is distributed evenly throughout the cage, delivering a balanced state and ensuring energy is consumed uniformly.

When the watch leaves our Manufacture, the daily variation in rate is between 0 and +2 seconds.

Some of the Ateliers deMonaco models are embellished with examples of métiers d’art such as grand feu enamelling and hand-engraved dials. Do you engage local artisans to undertake this work?

Yes, we engage specialists who are experts in a particular artisanal craft. It does not make sense to perform these tasks in-house because we have an array of individuals and specialist firms nearby which possess these types of skills. We focus upon what we know and let the artisans specialise on what they know. These artisanal skills have existed in this region for a long time and we are happy to play our part in perpetuating these crafts.

I note you offer a bespoke service.

Yes, this is a big part of our business and, if I am honest, it is the part I like the most (laughs). 

How far does your bespoke service go?

We have done bespoke movements, but this is unusual. Most bespoke commissions focus upon individual dial designs with some encompassing stones, enamelling, engraving etc.

Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to try on your lovely watch, the Poinçon de Genève which, as its name implies, is endowed with the Hallmark of Geneva.

How many additional hours are spent in fulfilling the requirements of the Poinçon de Genève?

I have stopped counting! It is one of the most demanding standards I have ever encountered.

Is that in terms of the quality of the components, the finishing or the chronometry?

Everything. Basically, if you mess up one of these areas, you will probably need to start from the beginning again. It starts from the research and development process and continues all the way through the production phase, decoration, assembly, testing and final inspection. The requirements of the Poinçon de Genève are incredibly tough.

Innovation seems to be at the heart of your company’s DNA. I know you have four patents relating to your movements. I would like to explore one of these patents in close detail:

The ‘Freebeat’ regulation system. How does this differ from the ubiquitous index adjusted balance or a variable-inertia balance? What are the benefits this approach confers?


The hairspring is fixed using a ratchet system. This allows the effective length of the hairspring to be adjusted while being held securely in position, hence there is no requirement for curb pins which could cause interference.

In addition, there is no conventional stud and adjusting the rate proves easier than with a variable-inertia balance. The balance wheel is also ‘clean’ which mitigates turbulence and, as a result, aids precision. Lastly, the system delivers impressive levels of isochronism, again aiding precision. 

What are your aspirations for Ateliers deMonaco both in terms of product development and the company as a whole?

To continue being innovative, special and exclusive.

Closing remarks

Pim Koeslag clearly has an inquisitive nature. He has an unwavering desire to challenge accepted norms and deliver horological advancement. However, despite his prowess for innovation, he remains very modest, often making reference to the contribution made by members of his team.

The brand has four patented innovations relating to its movements. During our meeting we explored two of them, the ‘eXtreme Precision 1 minute tourbillon’ and the ‘Freebeat’ regulation system. Both systems are exemplars of ‘blue-sky thinking’ and confer superior precision for the betterment of horophiles. Pim and his colleagues possess a willingness to look beyond the horological landscape in their midst and explore uncharted territory.

Beyond its technical creativity, the people behind Ateliers deMonaco possess well-honed skills, creating objects endowed with a prepossessing beauty. The visual allure of the brand’s products extends to exquisite dials, some bespoke, enriched with traditional artisanal crafts. Moreover, the beauty of an Ateliers deMonaco timepiece is not restricted to its face but extends to its internal organs. Indeed, the peerless movement finishing bestows much eye-appeal and stands testament to the time-served skills found at the Maison’s facility in Geneva.

Pim Koeslag, Ateliers deMonaco

During my time with Pim Koeslag he never boasted or came across as unduly flamboyant, and yet his work stands testament to his creativity and technical expertise. Likewise, an Ateliers deMonaco timepiece is not an example of conspicuous consumption, rather an understated paragon of fine watchmaking, ideally suiting discerning individuals. It seems there is a high quotient of Pim within the DNA of this luxury marque.

Ateliers deMonaco: L’Admiral Chronographe Flyback Armure by Guide Montre

Une nouvelle montre, issue du désir de la marque Ateliers deMonaco, d’innover et de travailler avec la technologie de pointe.


Inspirée par l’armure du « Chevalier en Armure » du sceau de Monaco, l’Admiral Chronographe Flyback des Ateliers deMonaco présente une caractéristique particulière. Le boîtier de 42 mm est traité avec un procédé appelé Armure qui permet à l’acier d’être environ cinq fois plus résistant aux rayures que l’acier ordinaire.

Le traitement Armure n’est pas un revêtement. Il s’agit d’un processus chimique de diffusion de carbone à basse température qui durcit la surface de l’acier. L’acier standard est normalement d’environ 220 HV (Dureté Vickers – une unité de mesure quantitative de la dureté des métaux). Après le traitement Armure, l’acier peut mesurer jusqu’à 1 200 HV.

Tout en respectant la tradition et le savoir-faire horloger, les montres Admiral Chronographe Flyback Armure sont alimentées par le calibre breveté chronographe flyback dMc-760. Ce dernier est développé, fabriqué et assemblé dans la manufacture de la marque à Plan-les-Ouates, en Suisse. Ce mouvement est embelli par un rotor en or 22K gravé avec le motif des armoiries de la Principauté de Monaco.

Deux nouvelles montres constituent la nouvelle ligne Armure, la première est dotée d’un boîtier en acier inoxydable entièrement poli et d’un joli cadran en saphir décoré de chiffres romains appliqués et polis. Une légère touche de bleu est ajoutée aux aiguilles des secondes et des minutes du chronographe. Et ajoutant la touche finale parfaite à la montre, un superbe bracelet orné d’une délicate couture bleue cousue à la main.

Le deuxième modèle dispose, quant à lui, d’un boîtier en acier inoxydable traité avec du DLC noir, donnant ainsi à la montre une note très masculine et sportive. Un style accentué par les aiguilles rouges du chronographe et les surpiqûres du bracelet.

La collection Admiral Chronographe Flyback a été lancée pour la première fois en 2015 avec quatre modèles classiques très élégants, l’année suivante, la collection a été enrichie de deux modèles avec un cadran en saphir apportant une touche de modernité à la collection. Avec cet ajout de boîte en acier inoxydable, cette ligne acquiert une apparence nouvelle et relaxante offrant une allure décontractée.

Claudie V.

Life After Football Magazine & Ateliers deMonaco Private Dinner at Köln

Last Saturday, Ateliers deMonaco exclusively attended to the dinner organised by LAF Magazine with the presence of its coverstar, professional football player from FC Schalke 04, Mr. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting at Köln (Cologne – Germany).

The dinner guests were pleased to exchange on tips about the last and new season’s coming.

Famous brand Replay Germany and few German football players were thrilled to discover the newest LAF issue over this exclusive dinner.

Noblesse Oblige
Enter the world of LAF Magzine:

Ateliers DeMonaco Tourbillon Carre And Ronde Watches Hands-On – aBlogToWatch

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One of the more interesting and beautiful small production high-end watch brands from the last few years is Atelier DeMonaco. The exclusive luxury watch maker is based in Monaco, but is actually owned by Frederique Constant, and headed by their Dutch technical director and watchmaker Pim Koeslag. So in reality, DeMonaco is assembled in Monaco, logistically managed from Switzerland, and operated by the Dutch.

A few hallmarks of the brand are particularly interesting and they include use of modern materials such as sapphire bridges and silicon parts, beautiful hand-engraved elements such as the automatic rotors, and attractive yet contemporary designs. DeMonaco watches feel like a satisfying combination of both traditional watch making values but modern luxury sensibility. These watches aren’t for everyone with their high-end positioning and exclusive production, but they should be on your horological radar.

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In this article you get to see a few pieces in the DeMonaco Tourbillon collection which includes both the Tourbillon Carre (square) and Tourbillon Ronde (round). Each of the case styles comes with a few dial options that includes both Arabic and Roman numerals or baton hour markers, as well as case materials in both 18k rose and white gold. The cases are further produced from two materials, which includes 18k gold on the outside, with a titanium inner case. This is done as a means to make the watch stronger and lighter, as the generous proportions would make for a hefty load on the wrist if the cases were entirely in gold.

The DeMonaco Tourbillon Ronde case is 43mm wide while the Carre case is 44.3mm wide. These are most certainly bold timepieces with a loud demeanor that is enhanced by many of the decorative elements on the dial and case. Most of the dial versions have either engraved elements or Tahitian mother-of-pearl centers. We like the applied hour markers which come in various forms, each crisply cut and polished. Legibility is actually quite good. though I feel that DeMonaco did not need to give these watches skeletonized hands (new hand options will likely be added in the future).

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Luxury being a core element behind the Tourbillon collection, DeMonaco is happy to offer select pieces with extra levels of indulgence, such as this one-of-a-kind 18k white gold Tourbillon Ronde lined with black diamonds. It is actually a rather cool piece if you are into this sort of thing – and allows for a watch to be both diamond covered and still masculine. Even the versions with mother-of-pearl dials have a masculine appeal to them. Perhaps not a rugged sport style of masculinity, but enough that these don’t appear to be feminine – which can sometimes be the case with decorative timepieces in this vein.

The cases follow suit. The sloped edges of the case mix brushed and polished finishes together, as well as angles and curves in a watch that feels very architectural as opposed to looking like traditional watch cases. Little elements nevertheless make it clear that the DeMonaco watches were designed by a watchmaker, such as the crown that screws into the case for protection.

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Of course the most spectacular part of the DeMonaco Tourbillon watch collection are the in-house made Caliber XP1 automatic mechanical movements. We find that most all DeMonaco watches are inherently practical when it comes to utility and convenience. We applaud the application of automatic winding to the movement, even though a large part of the dial is see-through. Mounted under a bridge made from a piece of sapphire crystal, the tourbillon sits against an exposed section of the watch where you can see straight through it. As you move your wrist you can see the movement of the automatic rotor through the window.

Much of the movement, both on the front and rear side, are hand engraved. This is especially the case on the vividly decorated rotor that bears the Seal of Monaco complete with crown and shield. The rotor has two shades of gold, which meld well with the many blued steel screws found in various parts of the movement. The view of the movement from the front is especially colorful, as so many materials mix together pleasantly. Many of them, such as silicon, tend to change colors in the light.



Technically the caliber XP1 is a modern movement operating at 4HZ with the time, tourbillon (which acts as the small seconds indicator) and automatic winding. Silicon is used for the escape wheel and lever, which acts to increase stability and accuracy. As we’ve said before, the DeMonaco Tourbillon is a unique combination of both modern elements such as precision sapphire crystal and silicon components, but also a rich level of traditional crafts such as hand-engraved elements.

Each of the versions of the Atelier DeMonaco Tourbillon Ronde and Carre watches are limited to just 18 pieces. These are beautiful and extremely rare watches that are nevertheless horologically astute Prices range from 96,000 – 109,000 Swiss Francsdepending on material and style (without diamonds).

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