We are moving ahead with detailing the concept of our Tourbillion watch. This update took us longer than we intended, but in this stage of a design typically a lot of technical obstacles must be clarified with suppliers. These obstacles are mainly centered around tolerance issues and especially around what can be done in terms of finishing.
People have voted in the last post on the colors of plates and bridges and now we have an idea what most of you are leaning towards. Due to some changes in our software we unfortunately lost the votes and if you don’t mind, we kindly ask you to place your vote again in the chapter 2 section. Since this was just a preliminary vote this is not such a big problem, because we decided to do sampling for most of the color combinations, as true judgement can only happen with real parts. All too often one can get fooled by CAD-renderings and Photoshop.
Talking about colors:
In order to achieve these colors, we must use two different methods:
- Chemical (wet) plating for 1N-Gold, Grey NAC,
- PVD (physical vapor deposition) for Blue
Personally, we hope that the majority of you vote for colors which we can create in a wet chemical environment, this is because PVD is expensive, very sensitive and it adds a physical layer of material to the plates which is an issue for keeping tolerances under control. Honestly, we don’t like PVD… it is the troublemaker of the watch industry; however, some colors can only be made with this process.
Why is PVD more expensive? In contrast to wet plating methods where you can access existing and different sizes of chemical bathes, the PVD-reactors themselves are expensive, it has a fixed chamber size and a longer processing time. Given our small production quantity this process will simply be more expensive. To round things off we must also consider the reality that we will lose parts due to inhomogeneous surfaces.
Talking about finish:
Our biggest challenge is to create a sophisticated look on the plates and bridges while keeping an eye on costing. This means we needed to discuss in detail with machining experts on what can be done with modern and available machining technologies to make it look and feel like a lively handmade finish. Therefore, we decided to apply a matte finish on the filled squares using lasers, a clean straight brush finish with sandpaper and beveled angles wherever possible.
The interplay between brush, matte and polished angles is what makes these plates stand out. The cost driver clearly are the beveled angles. Typically, beveling is done by hand and given the length of the edges in total, doing this by hand would make our watch unaffordable. Furthermore, we have a more geometric design in the form of squares with straight lines and defined radiuses, which might also create too much irregularity and lost parts when going for hand finishing. In order to create a clear mirror effect on the edges the angle has to be 30 degrees instead of 45 degrees and all corners need to be designed with no less than a 2mm radius in order to be able to cut these edges with a specific diamond knife directly on the CNC machine. To picture this, imagine taking a cutting blade and just shaving off a slice from the edge. In order to get a shiny surface, the tool cannot be rotated like a traditional reamer. It must be moved with considerable speed and dynamism along the edges to peel off this edge and create the shiny surface. The difference in machining is a little bit like putting a carrot through a juicer versus peeling the skin of a carrot with a hand peeler only in this case we are peeling with a machine 😉. If the machine cannot glide along the edge fast enough, there will be ripples and potentially destruction of the part.
As you can see on this drawing confirming every little detail has to be clearly and unmistakably defined to avoid unexpected outcomes.
To make true aesthetical judgements we must wait for all sampling to be completed and then provide the community with closeup shots. Hopefully during the coming two months we will get some parts to present.
Talking about the case:
The main “actor” of this watch is the tourbillion unit and the lightly skeletonized plates surrounding this core part. In order to give these parts, the “stage” they deserve, we designed a 41mm case with a very light weight feel and slim look, allowing maximum visibility from the front and rear. People who have analyzed our other products know that we like back cut constructions at the intersection of materials and shapes. We follow this idea on the top ring which has a clear back cut towards the case adding a shiny surface to the top view of the watch and further adding shadow on the bottom side of the top ring towards the main part of the case. Why we do that…? Because it gives a relatively simple case design more sophistication and possibilities for light reflection. The motivation is to ensure the watch does not appear too clean and to compliment this we added a crown with a technical look that is easy to grip and wind.
We are not yet sure of the finish… this is something we have to play around with and let you decide. We will make some versions with brush, matte and polish finishes in various combinations in case we go for stainless steel.
Alternatively, we could go for Titanium Grad 5 in polished or similar like the AUTARK 10-years in hardened and sandblast matte finish. All in all, there is a lot to be decided, but as always, we have to have a look at the real parts before we can give the community a solid foundation to decide upon.
As mentioned above the case back will have the maximum possible opening and due to the slimness of the case body, we chose a screw type case back. During the design process we recognized that we need some more character on the metal to give contrast to the large perfectly flat rear sapphire and to match nicely with the bold crown look. To achieve this, we use edging to edge away material and elevate the text and number engraving on the case back.
Talking about a name:
Currently we refer to this project as the K-tou project which is short for K-Tourbillon. We are leaning on the K from the K1 movement, which made us famous in the world of watchmaking.
However, K-tou is not meant to be the final name, it was our code word in the beginning. As mentioned earlier on, the movement for K-tou will be built on an existing gear train and setting mechanisms to cut time to market from 3-5 years down to a few months. Therefore, we don’t consider this to be a movement engineered from scratch, rather it is an aesthetic and advanced adaptation of an existing and proven functional mechanism.
This means our Tourbillon watch is a product which can be considered as an anomaly, outlier, exception or in other words a “stray bullet”. The shot that ended up somewhere different than anticipated. We like this name, because it sounds special and it perhaps expresses how this product is unusual detour from what we do at HORAGE. It is only a suggested name, but if the majority of people like the name we will build the story around it and if not, then we will simply search for another one. This is the beauty of the community. The ones who do some deeper research on this name will find some fun comics and manga stuff floating around the web. And since comics come in squarish layouts it would also complement our overall design of the plates and bridges… coincidence isn’t it!? Even more so when looking at the case from a certain angle it looks like the back part of a bullet casing… damn… the coincidences just keep coming.
We are fans of names which allow us to tell a story. We look for those that are unique and stray from dull, ordinary, everyday words. “Stray bullet” definitely is not…
Back to the face of the watch:
Overall the face of the watch is characterized by the plates and the tourbillon, however we don’t want to make watches where reading the time becomes a hard undertaking. This means we needed to add a ring that carries the indexes which we want to execute in square blocks made of superluminova… according to the supplier even the black ones will have a shining glow from the underside of the black blocks. We think this could be pretty cool, however without having samples there is not much we can decide at this point.
Although we only have to deal with minute and hour hands, landing on a design that matches the overall context was perhaps the trickiest part. Not too bold and not too flimsy was the goal and I think we needed to change the design more than 20 times. The hands we came up with will have a facet cut in three planes whereas the middle plane will have much room for glow. We are eager to see them in reality as soon as possible.
Finally the straps:
Our focus at the moment is on the core of the watch and since there are thousands of straps out there with a lug-to-lug 22mm width we don’t want to spend too much time on this topic. Ideally, once we head into production and to keep tooling costs under control, we should have boiled the strap choice down to, two or maximum three versions of straps.
We are advocating a new strap construction that has been suggested to us by the strap maker. It features a natural rubber inner layer that overlaps the top cover, thus giving the strap a black framing. The top finish can be embossed leather or made of other materials such as nylon or rubber. This type of construction should extend the lifetime of the strap when compared to those with an inner leather lining. After getting our hands on the strap we can say it has a very nice touch and feel, which is complimented by a very good wearing comfort.
The strap will taper to 18mm and whether we use deployment or pin style buckles it will be up to the community to decide.
Here are 5 preliminary strap suggestions that all feature the natural rubber inner construction.
1. Brown leather 3D-square pattern
2. Grey leather line pattern
3. Camouflage square pattern
4. Brown Vintage leather
5. Blue random rectangular pattern
This was a lot of information and we hope you enjoy thinking, reading and dreaming about your “Stray Bullet” Tourbillon.