BDWF Forum Watch

Original BDWF archived information from James
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James Elsener
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:27 pm

BDWF Forum Watch

Post by James Elsener » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:54 pm

A while ago I told our fellow member Emerson (eaea) who is also administrator of the Oris forum about the project we are currently having in the final stages about watches with gold or gold plated cases.

The administrators Emerson (eaea) and Scott D had approached me about posting some information on my project of watches sporting a gold case. And John gave his ok to post a very special idea about a watch subscription here in the General Forum. Thank you all for your support.

Well, the project started nearly three years ago when I was approached by a fashion company and asked to design three special watches with dials with Armenian scripture. I started diving into the topic and the more I read about Armenia and talked to people about their region the more I took a liking to the project.

Early on in the project I decided to name the watches after three beautiful lakes in Armenia. The Lake Arpi, the Lake Lessing and the Lake Sevan. I was enthralled by the blissful pictures I saw of these lakes.

When I presented my ideas and findings to the board of the fashion house in Monte Carlo they fell as much in love with the watches as we had during the design process. The watch cases were to be as requested by the design brief solid 22 ct gold. Unfortunately, the fashion house went out of business during the current economic turmoil.

I have had the designs on my office wall ever since. Visitors to my office continued to praise the shape and details of the watches and asked when we would be launching them. Their strong and favourable opinions and our love for the shapes lead us to take up the project again in the fall of last year.

It soon transpired that the current gold price would make the watches too expensive if the watch case were in solid gold. Gold plating would be the route to travel. However, I did not want the standard plating of 5 microns and went on to find a plating company here in Switzerland being able to plate them at 20 microns. This heavy and consequently costly plating ensures that the watch will remain shiny for decades. When they showed me the time consuming procedures and the cost involved I was at first very reluctant to go ahead. But what the heck if we do this series we do them in the highest quality or don't do them at all.

So we started diving into the CNC-programming in somewhat more detail. Every single case will be milled out of a solid stainless steel disk. I was not very happy when I learned that it will take at least four hours excluding polishing to make a single case. This severely limits the production capacity to a couple of production runs per year per case.

The polishing shop started looking at the technical details and estimated the time it would take to polish the case in order to prepare it for the goldplater. Another unforeseen item was added to the cost as a lot of the work must be done by hand instead of on a machine. The shape of the watch cases being too complex for most polishing robots.

On the back of the watch we want to engrave a flower of life design. We are still working on the final design. I got a very beautiful flower of life engraved on my bed's headboard and our engraver is working on adapting it to the much, much smaller space of the watch case bottom.

The dial is hand-made and sports Armenian style indexes. The guillochage pattern proved though but this we knew when we had designed the watches initially. These indexes are 20 microns gold plated as well. The hands will most likely be slightly luminous. We are still undecided on that one, yet. Also we do not know yet whether the Lake Arpi will not be launched with a dial with Roman style indexes, too.

Fairly early on we set on quartz movements from Ronda. They offer a special gilted version whereby all contacts are gilted. This ensures an even higher reliability and longer battery life than their standard movements already have. So we went for the gilted movements in our specs.

Our Italian supplier of leather straps came up with a solution we liked. The strap is hand-made out of hides from free roaming Italian calves. It is tanned using natural means only.

By chance, I had the visit of a potential supplier and he showed us a delicate butterfly clasp. I immediately called the gold plater and together with the sales rep of the clasp company I drove over. The foreman of the plating company gave the go-ahead and we decided to use this delicate clasp.

The size of the watches will be 44 mm and the thickness we do not know exactly yet. It might be around 10 to 12mm. A lot depends on how the steel behaves once we start milling the first cases.

The project has taken an in-ordinate amount of time so far and all our staff and specialist suppliers are putting in hours galore in it. The watches will be rather expensive due to their being hand-made. If we were to use mechanical movements we could ditch the project altogether. Availability of these being too scarce and unreliable at this moment in time.

The start-up cost of the project is in excess of Swiss Francs 80,000.00 (approx. US$ 79,000.00) and that is without counting our staff's hours put into the project so far. We will never be able to recoup the cost except if we succeed in selling every single year two to three production runs for the next few years at least. And simply forget about profit margins (my wife is not happy about that one, obviously).

I have therefore decided that we go ahead only if we can pre-sell at least 50 watches per style. In order to do that we have opened a subscription process. That means our customers can subscribe to a watch out of the first production run. We expect this run to take place in May 2010 so that by late May the first watches can be delivered.

All watches are as usual individually numbered. They start at 0001 and the first run goes up to 0100. The numbers 0001 and 0100 are not to be supplied but they remain with us with one exception which has been allocated to a special person already. The 0001 and the 0100 serve as benchmark models. Thereby we control the CNC process, the plating, etc., etc. All other are supplied to customers. Numbers are allocated as they come in. Special wishes are registered on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Once we have 50 subscribers per style we start sending out the commercial invoices. From there on we expect people to pay up and we start the first production run.

The exact details of the watches as well as the special subscription for members of WTF can be downloaded from here.

I shall be travelling till Thursday morning and shall not be able to reply to any feedback and suggestion earlier than that.

Wishing you all a pleasant week-end and tons of fun looking over our projected watches.
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