Joshua Shapiro grew up in a family of trained machinists and started working with his bare hands at a very young age. Even so, he pursued a traditional education route and eventually became an educator (read: school principal), but that all eventually changed when he became interested and picked up watchmaking along the way. Today, Joshua is famously known as a self-taught guillocheur who conceived an engine-turned motif of his own in 2013. In 2016, Joshua started to create engine-turned watch dials and became an apprentice to master clock and watchmaker David Walter. Fast forward to 2018, he proceeded to launch his own eponymous brand - J.N. Shapiro. His debut collection was the Infinity Series, named after the “Infinity Weave”- a proprietary guilloche pattern that he invented, which also serves as the foundation of the piece offered here today.
Enter the J.N. Shapiro Infinity Steel. It comes in a modern-sized 40mm x 9.75mm stainless-steel case which features a selection of polished and brushed surfaces that contrast beautifully with the tri-tone appearance of the dial. This allows the watch to take on a unique aesthetic and personality, which also contributes to a pleasant tactile feel. Overall, this Infinity Steel is an absolute treat when worn on the wrist and it is a wonderful visual and tactile blend of many different layers of finishing, color, and details all over.
The base of the dial is manufactured from 50% solid palladium, and hosts, what I would say, is the main highlight of this piece – J.N. Shapiro’s intricate engine-turned guilloche in three different forms. The periphery of the dial features a barleycorn motif whilst the minute track ring just above the Arabic numerals features a ratchet pattern and the basketweave in the middle section. Joshua had also created his very own pattern he calls the “Infinity weave” as seen within the small-seconds counter at 6 o ‘clock, which he claims is a “basketweave inside of a basketweave” and was inspired after reading George Daniels’ book “Watchmaking”. As far as finishing is concerned, the guilloche on the Infinity Tantalum is exceedingly impressive and definitely on par with some of the best the watch industry offers.
In addition to the above, the Infinity Steel also houses uniquely shaped hour, minute, and sub-second hands. The thermally blued hour and minute hands both have Breguet-style skeletonized tips, and the second hand has an infinity symbol as its counterweight. A very appropriate choice, if you ask me.
Turn the watch over on its exhibition case back and you will find that the Infinity Steel is powered by a well-known movement produced in Germany – the manually-wound, UWD Cal. 33.1, a now-discontinued caliber produced by Uhren-Werke-Dresden which is a sister company of Lang & Heyne. It should also be mentioned that all Shapiro timepieces that exist today will be the only ones that will ever house this movement as they have stopped selling these. That aside, the UWD Cal. 33.1 is finely decorated with a contrasting combination of brushed and polished bevels, a hand-chamfered gold bridge medallion that denotes the serial number has also been added here to enhance visual appeal.
J.N. Shapiro is definitely an independent brand on the rise and it’s no surprise that many collectors and connoisseurs alike are starting to flock toward this upcoming American watchmaker. Overall, the J.N. Shapiro Infinity Steel is an exceptional work of art and I cannot emphasize how rare it is to even see one in the metal. With less than 5 examples of any Shapiro appearing on the market as most collectors are not selling, it is very exciting to be able to offer one.