Of Form, And Function
Updated: Apr 1
Relaunch Notes, Part 2 of 4 In this next three instalments of the Relaunch Notes, we will be focusing on the conceptualisation and ideation of the Origin collection. If you have yet to read Part 1 of this series, you can do so here: https://www.constellartimepieces.com/post/how-we-failed-3-kickstarter-watch-campaigns-part-1
First, the name
In Part 1, we spoke about how we set out to design a dressier piece, in the region of 38mm. After all, they say you should always design something you will actually use.
For our revival, we have gone back to our roots. The name “Origin” signifies this intent, and serves as a guiding mandate for ourselves in this release.
Our idea of a daily dress piece
With the plethora of options out there, we asked ourselves: what do we really need in a dress watch meant for daily wear? With this question in mind, we set out a list of decision criteria:
Aesthetics which suit a well-designed integrated steel bracelet, which should look great with a leather option as well for different occasions
Vintage styling, paired with a sportier silhouette (the trickiest in our opinion!)
Mid-sized piece, with a suitable thinness for more formal use, yet retaining a respectable amount of heft for daily wear
Comfortable bracelet and strap options
3. Useful functions
Practical complications which are symmetrically placed, with actual daily application considerations
4. Aesthetics subtle, but uncommon
Dial types which does not exist in the current small independent watchmaking scene, which are interesting, yet subtle enough for daily use
We also wanted to approach this project from a different perspective: Paying less mind to "accepted dimensions", such as conventional diameter to lug-to-lug proportions, but set out to create a fully integrated and complete product instead.
Building Around the Movement
Of the many ways to commence a watch design, we decided to go with the movement selection first for Project "Origin". This led us to look back in time to relive the watches that were popular for the past half century.
One particular piece stood out to us: The Rolex Day-Date. It rests on a very different pedestal of its own; prestigious enough without the use of unnecessarily-complicated functions, yet simple and useful enough for everyone (affordability aside of course!).
The Rolex Day-Date is ubiquitous in its appeal. The 6510 (or 6511, with a fluted bezel) represented the ideal luxury piece to many around the world since its inception in 1956, and the model, in its current permutations, still remain highly desirable to watch collectors and non-WIS alike today. We are no exceptions.
Our search for the ideal Day-Date movement saw us looking at several options. The NH36A was the obvious first choice that popped to mind as an affordable engine, but goes against the symmetrical intent we set out. The same applies for the ETA 2836-2. ETA movements also remained highly volatile in availability, even today. The Miyota 912x series are well-developed, but we preferred to start things off without sub-dials.
The SW240-1 caliber stood out amongst the options: a reliable 28xx derivative base, a proven history of reliability by Sellita (which has only gotten better with preceding years), and the possibility of a symmetrical layout (vertical day and date apertures).
We then found something even more compelling: the manual-wind version of this movement, the SW240-1M!
The use of a hand-wound movement has always appealed to us. The ability to interact with the movement, along with the reduced thickness, and (most often) better power reserve, all comes together to form the ideal choice of the caliber we want housed in Project "Origin".
The SW240-1M is a thinner movement, coming in at 3.80mm, compared to the automatic version at 5.05mm. It also offers a 45-hour power reserve, versus a 41-hour PR for the automatic.
The icing on the cake? In our research, we cannot find a single piece on the market which utilises the unmodified, purest version of this movement. This got us really excited as it means we have the chance to offer something really unique to our collectors. It helps that it is a pretty darn good looking movement as well!
Now that we have the chosen caliber, we proceeded to work on the outline of the watch.
We knew from the very start that we wanted a vintage-style case and bracelet combination, which looks elegant, whilst possessing a touch of modern aggression, if that makes any sense to you, the reader. Sounds oxymoronic? We think so, but challenged ourselves anyway.
The first order of the day was to create the lugs. It is, after all the transition between case and bracelet. As anyone who is into vintage watches will attest to, Horn Lugs are, by a mile, the most elegant style of strap fixtures on a watch case ever created.
Source: Vacheron Constantin
The issue with incorporating Horn Lugs on our case, which we envisioned as being 37mm in diameter, is that they will look flimsy and insubstantial. As such, we set out to create a controversial style of “Double Horn” lugs.
The "Double Horn" Lugs also allowed us the opportunity to incorporate further tone-on-tone finishing, which gives the watch added dimension and contrast. The flaring of the external facet provides a touch of design "aggression" to the silhouette.
Sometimes, good design comes in the form of thoughtful restraint. We know that we are already going to fill the dial with plenty of detail, as with the bracelet. As such, we decided to keep the case's mid-body and bezel as simple as possible. Another tone-on-tone application of alternating finishing helps amplify the sense of dimension, once again.
It may sound really weird to be deriving the bracelet design prior to establishing the dial design/layout. But as we earlier mentioned, we wanted to create a well-integrated silhouette. We see the bracelet as an extension of the case, and not as a design after-thought (it is after all the largest part of the watch, surface area wise!). There is a TON of detail we would like to go into for the bracelet. As such, we will dedicate a large portion of Part 3 in this series to go in-depth about the bracelet, as well as the motif present on the mid-links!
Coming up next
That's it for this post! In Part 3, we will be diving deep into:
- Motifs: Design elements which will form the Constellar brand DNA.
- Bracelet Specifics: We are really excited to be sharing this with you. The bracelet we will be creating will be unlike any in the mid-tier horological segment.
- Dial Design: Another surprise we will be leaving for the next post, the dial is something we are really proud of. We will be delving into various textures and layers we will be implementing into the respective variants. We look forward to sharing more of the design journey with you, so do keep a look out for the next post!
But before we end this article, we would also like to announce something very special.
Assembled in Singapore
In our quest for detail, we also realised there is a greater need to ensure quality control. In our experience, the biggest failure that can happen in the production process usually comes during the assembly stage. We have decided to take matters into our own hands and be directly responsible for each and every Constellar watch shipped out of Singapore.
As such, we have decided to undergo a few months of training, under the tutelage of an established WOSTEP certified watchmaker, with over a decade of experience under his belt. All Constellar watches will be fully assembled, regulated and inspected by the two of us (Edgar and Song). This is the first time an independent brand has ever attempted something like this in Singapore. All watches will be assembled personally by us locally, at the Chrono.Design workshop. Will doing so save us any costs? Hardly.
So why are we planning to spend more time and money to be trained to handle assembly, regulation, and inspection of our watches?
The answer is really simple: We believe that our personal involvement in the finishing touches can and will make a significant impact on how you receive our watches. This strongly aligns with our intent to build genuine connections between us and our supporters through our watches as well! Furthermore, by being directly responsible for assembly, we can guarantee the level of control over the quality of the final product.
As part of this initiative, we will also be establishing an in-house list of standards, which we will be abiding by, to ensure the highest product quality possible. This will be explained, in-depth, in yet another future post! We'll see you in the next post!
<<TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 3>>