Maison Celadon Yue Fei

I first saw the Maison Celadon Yue Fei watches at the November 2017 DC Microbrand Meetup. It was the first time these watches had been shown in the United States. This past month, I borrowed the same pair for the Mid-Atlantic Get Together in Philadelphia. Both times, I noticed that people have one of three reactions to the watch: 1) strict dress watch fans saw a diving watch and kept on walking, 2) hardcore dive watch fans saw a dress-diver and puzzled over how it could be an effective tool, and 3) people who disregarded categories and were willing to open their minds fell in love with it. 

Maison Celadon Yue Fei
Benjamin Chee, Maison Celadon's CEO, believes his watches should epitomize the best of China. This ethos is reflected in every aspect of his watches. Like the rest of the Maison Celadon line, this latest model is proudly Chinese and draws heavily on that country’s traditions. Named for the Song Dynasty general and folk hero, the Yue Fei is intended to be “a luxury sporting watch,” or "warrior's watch," and having sampled it for a few days, I’d say that those are accurate descriptions, although I'd place the emphasis on “luxury.” The Yue Fei can certainly hold its own in the surf, but I highly doubt that is the way most of its customers will use it. Even with its screwed down crown and case back, smooth 120-click unidirectional dive bezel, and 200m water resistance rating, this dress-diver leans heavily towards the dressier side of the equation.

Maison Celadon Yue Fei

A proudly Chinese watch must have a Chinese movement, in this case, it is the CG15 automatic made by the Beijing Watch Factory, a modified B15 that is subjected to three additional layers of quality control and is then regulated in-house. The CG15 has 27 jewels, a 21.8k bph vibration rate, and a power reserve of over 40 hours. 

Maison Celadon Yue Fei wrist shot

Case proportions are appropriately muscular, but not overwhelming. Elongated octagon shapes like this tend to wear large, so I am pleased that they kept it to a reasonable 39mm wide, 48mm long, and 14mm thick from the caseback to the top of the domed sapphire crystal. This gives it more than adequate wrist presence while still allowing it to fit comfortably on most wrists, even my smallish 6.5” paw. Case finishing is excellent, the surfaces alternating between uninterrupted line bushing along the surface and case sides, and a mirror polished facets that run down the to ends of the integrated lugs. 

A signed octogonal crown echoes the case shape, and the work that went into these parts borders on madness. The crowns were CNC milled and then hand-finished by a single artisan who brushed each facet and polished the slim lip around the head. The production run of took him a full week to complete. 

The Yue Fei’s dial has a radiant sunburst finish in either Azure blue or Obsidian gray; both showing a gradient effect towards the edges. The layout features polished faceted darts topped with small squares of lume. One expects sword hands on a diver, but this watch takes them in a new, distinctively Chinese direction. They are modeled after the Sword of King Goujian, an artifact from the 5th Century BC, and have a clearly defined hilt. They are polished on the blue dial and blued on the gray. The polished second hand is also a nod to Chinese history as it faithfully represents the curved and barbed blade carried by the late Eastern Han Dynasty General Guan Yu. There is no superfluous text here, only the applied and polished Maison Celadon logo at the top and, flanking the 6 o’clock marker, the simplified Chinese characters for “China” discreetly printed in low contrast. 

Maison Celadon Yue Fei handset macro

No one element on the dial shouts at you, but the net effect is stunning; a delightful shimmer that catches the mirror polished facets at the lugs and is accentuated by the muted brushed surfaces of the case and bezel. It is hardly the high visibility, maximum contrast face one would normally want on a diving tool, but it perfectly lovely. The hands, markers, bezel pip and second hand tip are all treated with C9 SuperLuminova, producing a suitable glow, but the surface area is quite small, denying you the kind of in-your-face pop you might want from a tool watch. Still, I like the fact that it is there, and the slivers of white go far to make the hands clearly legible both day and night.

Maison Celadon Yue Fei lume

The attention to detail does not stop with the front of the watch. The caseback employs a combination of techniques to display an intricate illustration of the great wall. I have generally found that the fussier the image, the worse it translates to a caseback, but this one is the exception, its fine details standing in sharp relief.

Maison Celadon Yue Fei case back

Neither of the review watches had their stock straps. The rubber and nylon ones in my pictures were just what happened to be on hand. Benjamin has been very busy tracking down the perfect 22mm straps for his creations. Shortly before I wrapped up this review, he told me he had settled on an experimental waterproof hybrid of gray leather and blue rubber. He is also working on a stingray strap to be offered as an extra cost option. All straps will have quick-release spring bars for tool-free swaps and unique buckles. The photos below this review are his and show some of the options he is exploring. I think rubber is always a smart choice for a diving watch, but on these, I would be tempted to go for something fancier, so I’d highly recommend buying the stingray. While you're at it, I'd also recommend something tailored and lightly padded, perhaps in a crocodile print. The Yue Fei may be a "warrior's watch," but it begs to be dressed up and shown off.

Maison Celadon Yue Fei

The Maison Celadon Yue Fei is a unique piece that really grows on you. It is clear that a great deal of care went into its design and construction and the attention to detail is rewarding. I absolutely love the way it celebrates Chinese culture without going overboard. A keen-eyed student of history will get the references; everyone else will just see a really pretty watch. Put aside your preconceived notions, and you too will be charmed.

The Yue Fei is available for order for $998 directly from Only 50 units of each color will be made. ⬩

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