Massena Lab Introduces the Uni-Racer Chronograph

The "Big Eye" remade, carefully and smartly.

Having gotten its start by collaborating with independent watchmakers like Habring2, Massena Lab has just unveiled the first watch of its own brand, the Uni-Racer. A vintage-style wristwatch modelled on the Universal Genève Uni-Compax “Big Eye” chronograph of the 1960s, the Uni-Racer features several details that will appeal to enthusiasts, while having an affordable price tag of just under US$3,500.

Initial thoughts

Like all other remakes of vintage watches, the Uni-Racer reproduces the look of its vintage inspiration, while enlarging everything – the case is 39 mm compared to 37 mm for the original – to suit modern tastes. But unlike most other remakes, the Uni-Racer attends to the details that only a keen-eyed collector would appreciate, which is hardly a surprise since Massena Lab founder William Rohr is a longtime watch collector himself (and probably best known as the former general manager of watch forum

Features like the hand-wind movement and vintage-style buckle indicate the attention to detail in its conception. But there are also the less obvious elements, like the tiny, engraved logo on the crystal and the Massena Lab emblem that resembles an inverted Universal Genève logo.

In fact, Massena Lab says it “interviewed former Universal Genève employees and suppliers to confirm original details and aesthetics”. The achievement of the Uni-Racer is not a novel design, but the careful curation of details that give the watch an authentic spirit while preserving an accessible price.

The tiny “M” engraved at the centre of the crystal

“Big Eye”, tiny details

The Universal Genève Uni-Compax “Big Eye” gets its name from the oversized minute register at three o’clock, a fairly common stylistic accent in chronographs of the 1960s and 1970s (Longines remade its own “Big Eye” chronograph two years ago). Produced from 1963 to 1965, the Universal “Big Eye” is rare enough today that it typically sells for US$20,00-30,000.

The original was produced with either a black dial as the ref. 884100/01, or a white dial with striking blue hands as the ref. 884100/02, and now both versions have been recreated by Massena Lab.

Both versions of the Uni-Racer share the case 39 mm case that’s 13 mm high, compact by modern standards and small enough it preserves the vintage feel. The linear brushed finish of the lugs is exactly as it was on the vintage original according to Massena Lab.

And the domed crystal is PlexiGlas, again like the original. But more notably, the crystal has a tiny Massena Lab “M” logo engraved at its centre, another knowing nod to vintage watches.

Inside is a manual-wind Sellita SW510 M, a clone of the Valjoux 7760, which is in turn a 7750 without the automatic winding mechanism.

Key facts and price

Massena Lab Uni-Racer Chronograph
Ref. UR-001 (white)
Ref. UR-002 (black)

Diameter: 39 mm
Height: 13 mm
Material: Steel
Water resistance: 50 m
Crystal: PlexiGlas

Movement: Sellita SW510 M
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, and chronograph
Winding: Hand-wind
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 58 hours

Strap: Leather with pin buckle

Limited edition: 200 pieces in each colour
 Now, direct from Massena Lab
Price: US$3,495

For more, visit


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Chopard Introduces the L.U.C Skull One

An elegant, whimsical celebration of the dead.

Chopard has loosened up its strictly formal, ultra-thin dress watch with recent launches like the collaboration with tailor Kiton. Launched during Mexican watch fair Salón Internacional Alta Relojería México (SIAR), the L.U.C Skull One continues the theme – a slim, black-coated case and the dial decorated with a motif inspired by Día de Muertos, the Mexican festival that celebrates the dearly departed.

Initial thoughts

The Skull One is not the first Chopard dressed in a calavera, a decorated depiction of the skull used during Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead. Two years ago, once again for SIAR, Chopard decked out its top-of-the-line L.U.C perpetual calendar with tourbillon in Day of the Dead decor that was hand engraved on the dial and case.

But compared to that one-off creation (and also the similarly-themed De Bethune DW5), the Skull One is most pared back in style and also in price. Priced just shy of US$10,000, the Skull One is well priced for a wristwatch powered by a sophisticated, in-house movement that has an elaborately printed dial.

And just as importantly, the watch is well designed – the skull motif works well with everything else. The look is coherently put together, with most of the elements done in shades of black and grey – even the case back crystal is tinted grey – but accented with rose gold markers and hands.

Simple yet effective

While obvious at a glance, the dial is thoughtful in its details. The motif is set apart from the background in texture – the dial base is radially brushed, while the skull motif is printed in glossy lacquer. And the skull is composed of whimsical elements – the eyes are flowers and it wears a moustache – in the typical style of the calavera, because the Day of the Dead is an occasion to celebrate.

The skull is surrounded by radial striping for striking visual effect, but isn’t particularly practical for reading the time. Even though the lines are properly segmented, they are not easily legible.

The dark-colour theme continues seamlessly from the dial to the case that’s sandblasted and coated in black diamond-like carbon (DLC), and also on the back, which has a tinted crystal.

And under the crystal is the L.U.C 96.53-L, a variant of Chopard’s longstanding in-house movement that is well regarded for its refined construction and excellent finishing. Although this variant of the movement does not have the highest-end finishing (which is reserved for the movements bearing the Poincon de Geneve or Qualite Fleurier), it is still decorated to a level that exceeds most of the competition at this price point.

Boasting a micro rotor and rocker mechanism for winding, the movement is just 3.3 mm thick but manages twin barrels that give it a 58-hour running time. The thinness of the movement allows the case to be just 7.2 mm high, making it both classically sized and easily wearable.

Key Facts and Price

Chopard L.U.C Skull One
Ref. 168592-3004

Diameter: 40 mm
Height: 7.2 mm
Material: DLC-coated steel
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: L.U.C 96.53-L
Functions: Hours and minutes
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 58 hours

Strap: Brown calfskin strap

Limited edition: 100 pieces 
: At Chopard retailers and boutiques
Price: US$9,780; or 13,500 Singapore dollars

For more information, visit


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