Josh Shapiro, the man behind J.N. Shapiro Watches, is unique in many aspects. As we’ve explained in an interview with the young independent watchmaker, he’s one of the only to exercise this fine art in California – his workshop is located in Inglewood to be precise. With the idea to produce as much as possible in-house, and thus on US soil, he has recently created a highly attractive collection of elegant, high-end watches named the Infinity series. Based on this design, J.N. Shapiro now launches the Infinity Tantalum Limited Edition, with the first tantalum case produced outside of Switzerland and three different (and attractive) dial options.
Independent watchmaking has recently gained incredible traction and this gave ideas to many young and talented watchmakers, with most of them trying to bring something personal in their creations. For Josh Shapiro, it’s about his work on materials and crafting habillage pieces, all done in a traditional and ultra-detailed way. As we’ve explained already, Josh is currently working on expanding his collection and he’s putting the final touches on an in-house, hand-wound calibre with a tourbillon moon phase. But for now, his focus is on manufacturing extremely refined habillage parts, resulting in classic, elegant watches with a twist.
The J.N. Shapiro Infinity series is a perfect demonstration of Josh’s savoir-faire, with detailed dials with guilloché patterns (even on a meteorite base…), hand-made hands, in-house crafted cases… And for now out-sourced movements. The idea is to push the envelope of the watch (quite literally) to the max, with an impressive level of detail. Based on this collection, the independent watchmaker now releases a new series of watches, the Infinity Tantalum Limited Edition, which is showing a case made in a rare metal and dials with superb execution.
Tantalum is a metal we see very rarely in watchmaking, despite its attractive colour and properties. A blue-grey metal with a darker colour than steel, white gold or platinum, it’s usually reserved for medical and dental applications. It’s a hard, lustrous transition metal that is highly corrosion-resistant. But it’s also extremely hard to machine. Josh explains that “tantalum is very gummy, but hard and dense as 18k gold, which is a funny combination. So it’s like platinum – only worse.” It’s rarely used in classic watchmaking, with only examples by Journe (the Chronomètre Bleu), Audemars Piguet (on some limited edition Royal Oak watches) or Omega (with the famous Tri-Metal Seamaster).
Tantalum is here used for the 39mm case, with a combination of polished and brushed surfaces. Dense and hard, it has a unique, darker blue-ish colour that differs from steel or titanium, giving this watch a unique personality. It’s also the first time a case in tantalum is made outside of Switzerland. But its use isn’t only reserved to the case, as some tantalum elements have also been incorporated into the dial, which is, according to Josh Shapiro, a first.
The base of the Infinity Tantalum Limited Edition’s dial is made of solid palladium, which displays Shapiro’s intricate engine-turned patterns and a custom-made font – there are three different guilloche patterns on the dial. Besides the classic barley corn, the basket weave in the centre and the ratchet pattern, Shapiro has also created his own pattern, visible in the small seconds counter. Inspired by George Daniels’ book, Watchmaking, he designed the Infinity weave pattern, “It’s a basket weave within a basket weave – squares within a square.” he explains.
In addition to these patterns and the hand-executed hands with opened tips, the second specificity of this Infinity Tantalum Limited Edition is to integrate tantalum on the dial – used for the hour chapter ring and the small seconds track. There are three different dials available. First is a natural palladium dial with tantalum chapter rings, blue enamel ink with blue steel hands. Second is a black ruthenium-coated dial with tantalum hours chapter rings, rose gold hands, seconds rings and numerals. Finally, Shapiro offers a navy blue dial with tantalum chapter rings, blue enamel ink and steel polished hands.
Inside the case is a well-known movement produced in Germany, the Uwd Caliber 33.1 – produced by Uhren-Werke-Dresden, sister-company of Lang & Heyne. This modern hand-wound movement with a large 33mm diameter is notable for its sharp, opened construction with triangular bridges. Beating at 3Hz and offering 53h of power reserve, it is here finely decorated with straight brushed surfaces and polished bevels. A hand-chamfered gold serial plate has been added to make the calibre unique.
Availability & price
The J.N. Shapiro Infinity Tantalum Limited Edition watches are worn on alligator straps. Only 26 watches will be produced (all dial colours included) and they are available directly from www.jnshapirowatches.com. The price is set at USD 33,000.