One to Watch: Berneron Watches

One of the most exciting up-and-coming watchmakers on the independent scene today is Berneron Watches, founded by Sylvain Berneron. Berneron formally released his debut watch in October last year, and ever since, the buzz around the brand has become increasingly intense as collectors and enthusiasts realise that there's something special about this young brand. Of course, youth does not imply a lack of experience — for while the man behind the brand is in his mid-30s, he has quite an impressive resume. With a background in automotive design, Berneron stepped into watches at IWC and, over the last five years, has been the creative lead at Breitling under Georges Kern. Based solely on the CV, you might be mistaken for thinking that Berneron's brand identity would veer towards large and sporty, but the Mirage sits firmly at the other end of the spectrum, offering a uniquely asymmetrical take on an elegant dress watch.

Sylvain_Berneron.jpg
Sylvain_Berneron.jpg

Sylvain Berneron

Sylvain Berneron

At launch, allocations for the Mirage were offered in a limited annual allocation of 24 watches per year for 10 years. It's already sold out until 2028. So what makes the Mirage special? Well, it's a completely organic, asymmetrical design — no easy feat. To design every element of a watch to appear distorted while still maintaining a harmonious overall form is quite a feat. Producing such a timepiece is also exceptionally challenging, and Berneron has taken no shortcuts; from the custom typeface to the hands and — impressively — the bespoke movement made by Le Cercle de Horlogers. The watch is an incredible undertaking and the expression of a clearly articulated watchmaking vision. When it comes to the success of this watch, it's clear that Sylvain doesn't take it for granted. He explains, "The magnitude of response has truly been incredible and so much higher than I could ever have imagined. Since the launch, we have allocated six years of production, so the current availability for the Mirage is from 2029. Also, we grew the team from 2 to 4 people, and we will grow it further to 6 people and dedicated offices in 2025. Later this year, in October, we will present our second piece, and we just started the development of a third caliber for our 2026 release."

Berneron Watch.jpg
Berneron Watch.jpg

Berneron Watch Sketch

Berneron Watch Sketch

Part of the reason for the success of the Mirage is that asymmetrical watches are enjoying something of a moment — spurred on in no small part by the success of the iconic Cartier Crash. Berneron hopes this 'moment' is part of a wider trend. "We've seen a decade of the "steel sports watch" supremacy, and by now, almost all collectors fulfilled their need for one of these pieces, so now the community is finally moving over to other things, and I have the feeling that we see a shift in general taste when it comes to watches. That being said, I think that not just asymmetrical designs but creativity in general will make a huge comeback. As collectors, we could not be happier as this shift gives us a lot of alternatives and a richer landscape to express our taste and character."

Berneron Watch (4).jpg
Berneron Watch (4).jpg

Berneron Watch Back

Berneron Watch Back

From the care and quality exhibited in Berneron's debut release, it's clear that the brand isn't quickly cashing in on a trend. Sylvain explains this clarity of focus; "As a brand, our DNA is to venture into the untouched territories of watchmaking, but we don't want to be locked into the "bent watch brand". In 2026, we will debut our second collection, this time in a round case. We will always bring something more on the table, whether it is from an artistic or technical perspective." This assured approach might raise some eyebrows, especially as increasing supply to meet current demands would surely be a more lucrative approach. On this front, it appears that Berneron is playing it safe; "We could have easily quadrupled our production and by not doing that we are leaving millions on the table, but these millions are not what drives us. We are collectors ourselves, so we like and appreciate real collectable pieces rather than hype stuff that gets produced in large quantities and pretends to be rare. We committed to 24 Mirage per year for the next 10 years, and we will stick to it, as we gave our word to our clients."

Berneron Watch (2).jpg
Berneron Watch (2).jpg

Berneron Watches

Berneron Watches

This approach is marmite in the watch business, which loves to iterate on a commercially successful model, but Sylvain's background has given him some invaluable insight into the risks for a young brand. "Speed is the main enemy of quality, so cracking under pressure and going too fast is a huge risk that we are not going to take", Berneron explains. "The mental comfort zone after a successful first launch is tricky too, because easy is the greatest threat to progress. And finally, the artistic endangerment that we embody implies that it might go wrong in one project because we can't win any battle. But we are always keen to learn and keep trying new things."

 

Truly, the Mirage is an impressive debut for Berneron, but we suspect that because of the values and vision articulated by Sylvain Berneron, the brand will remain relevant and exciting for years to come. We can't wait to see what they create next.

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