Independent Insights: Minase, URWERK, Isotope, And Romain Gauthier!
Hey there, indie fans. It’s been a while, but we are back with another installment of Independent Insights. Japan drops a Halloween-appropriate limited edition, URWERK raises a big wad of cash for charity and plenty more! Read on, folks!
Minase × 10tenLabs Divido “Blood Orange”
It’s been a while since I’ve written about Minase here on the pages of Fratello Watches. One of our favorite Japanese brands has been quietly working away and doing its thing, and 2021 has been fruitful for Minase. It has upgraded several of its core collections in the Divido, 7 Windows, and the Horizon. These watches are now fitted with an upgraded movement in the KT7002, based on an ETA 2892 ebauche, specially customized for Minase.
The new KT7002 features some excellent finishing among the technical improvements. Hand-finished surfaces show off perlage, heat-blued screws, and polished bevels. With 50 hours of power reserve, the KT7002 offers an extra half-day running time than its predecessor. Not too shabby!
You may also recall that Minase dropped possibly its finest watch of 2021 at the start of the year. Ok, ok, I know that’s possibly tarnished with a bit of bias. Still, the Minase Divido Fratello Edition was a stunning watch. The fact it sold out so quickly was a testament to the community’s agreement. Well, not content to rest on its laurels, Minase has launched another special edition now. As a Dutch company, this one’s a little close to our hearts. It’s orange!
Spooky blood orange!
Minase has teamed up with 10tenLabs, Minase’s official retailer and distributor for the Middle East region. Now I can understand if you’re not too familiar with 10tenLabs, neither am I, but the critical thing is that they know how to make a tasty watch. Inspired by the famous blood orange fruit found across the Mediterranean, this watch is immediately visually striking. This is the first time that Minase has deployed such a vibrant shade of orange as the primary color in its watches. The color perfectly matches the warm, earthy tones of the fall and is the perfect Halloween watch. Who said orange wasn’t versatile?
As I’m sure you imagine, as with Minase’s other limited edition Divido watches, it sold out incredibly quickly, having been offered to 10tenLabs’ private clients. All ten pieces were snapped up just like that. But, outstanding work deserves to be celebrated. I’ve long been toying with the idea of purchasing a Divido for my own collection, especially after Minase upgraded the movement and movement ring. Had I had the chance to purchase this watch, who knows… I may have actually pulled the trigger. That’s how cool I think the Divido Blood Orange is!
Urwerk auctions a unique UR-110 for charity, to say farewell
“Oh look! Dave is writing about URWERK again! What a surprise!” That’s a fair comment, but URWERK just seems to hit my spot with everything it does recently. Technically, this was not a new watch in the grand scheme of things, but it also is. What am I on about? That’s a fair question. Well, it’s the URWERK UR-110 Bakelite unique piece.
Urwerk first launched the UR-110 way back in 2010. It was quite an evolution for the brand, and it was affectionately nicknamed “the torpedo”. It functions using URWERK’s signature satellite hours display on the right-hand side of the dial. The UR-110 actually won the 2011 Grand Prix d’Horologerie Design prize, turning heads with its asymmetrical case and the three arrow-shaped “torpedoes” flying in formation.
A fond farewell…
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, which unfortunately included the UR-110 – but not without a final farewell. As such, URWERK decided to retire the ten-year-old model with a one-of-a-kind piece. The UR-110 Bakelite features a titanium case and a brand new bezel made of, you guessed it, Bakelite. A popular material from the 1900s, it was one of the first high-tech materials ever made. Used for everything from eyeglasses to appliances, Bakelite ruled the roost in early 20th-century manufacturing.
The resulting watch was a big hit with URWERK collectors. The hammer fell at an incredible CHF 120,000 which will make a massive difference to the ongoing work of the Swiss Red Cross. Take a look at the archived listing on URWERK’s auction site.
Isotope’s fun and fresh HydriumX “Will Return”
It wouldn’t be an independent insights column without a little microbrand action, right? Well, this episode’s microbrand newness is brought to you courtesy of British microbrand Isotope. The watch in question is its latest model, the HydriumX “Will Return”. It may seem like a peculiar name, but the inspiration is somewhat whimsical in nature. Still, the finished product seems to work quite well.
The Isotope HydriumX “Will Return” is inspired by the classic door signs. Those classic signs were mainstays of the 1990s, hanging in shop doors and windows, signifying the shop was temporarily closed. A small clock displayed the time the shop clerks would return, hence the name. Brand owner Jose Miranda recalled these signs from his frequent trips to New York.
A sign of the times
The color scheme was traditionally this lovely shade of blue on a white background with black text. A pop of color, in the form of bright red hands, completed the look. Clean, simple, and to the point. These signs were nothing flashy, but I find it peculiar how well the concept translates over to watch design. Is it the most logical translation? Perhaps not, but it has a definite charm to it.
The HydriumX Will Return retains all of Isotope’s signature elements. The hour and minute hands have a distinct water droplet shape, similar to the “Lacrima” dial motif the brand adopted to connect its design designs. The matte-finished, micro-blasted stainless steel case fits with the functional aesthetic of the sign. Even the blank bezel (save for a red marker at 12 o’clock) doesn’t bother me here. I’m not usually a fan of blank bezels as you lose a lot of the functionality they are designed to offer. With the HydriumX, the bright blue bezel seems more appropriate with a lack of bezel markings.
The Isotope HydriumX “Will Return” is a limited edition of 100 numbered pieces. Suppose you’re interested in adding one to your collection. In that case, you can pre-order on the Isotope website now for a limited time. If you fancy saving yourself £113, try using the code HydriumWillReturn.
Romain Gauthier introduces the brand-new Continuum
I’d just about finished this article when something else landed in my inbox. If it wasn’t for the fact that the watch in question looked so goddamn cool, I’d have felt like a chef when a large table rocks up five minutes before closing and asks for the eight-course tasting menu. Well, the watch in question is the Continuum, from Romain Gauthier. This titanium sports watch brings a modern and contemporary look to the brand’s signature stylings.
Shaping up nicely!
The Continuum is a radical new model in Romain Gauthier’s collection. The round, 41mm grade 5 titanium case has a beautiful set of angular lugs, which I’m not quite sure how to describe. Feel free to give me your best descriptions in the comments! They kind of angle inwards, and combined with the fitted rubber strap, the shape becomes an integral part of the Continuum’s identity. The eye-catching geometric profile of the titanium bezel is unlike anything previously seen from Romain Gauthier. The bezel features a mixture of finishes and, combined with the six beveled facets, the light play is rather spectacular. The crown is located at 2 o’clock and features a colored rubber ring for better grip and a splash of color.
The dial is also quite stunning. It doesn’t take away from the detail of the case but adds to it, as any good watch design should. The sandblasted Grade 5 titanium dial could be mistaken for slightly disorganized, with the differently sized hour markers and the off-center hands and sub-dial. But a closer look shows there’s purpose and logic to the disorganization. The offset hour and minute hands are a subtle nod to the offset time indications of the brand’s previous collections. The small seconds sub-dial is more evident with its positioning and its flashes of red, highlighting the 5-second intervals.
A whole new caliber
Turning this bad boy over reveals an incredible new movement, specially created for the Continuum. As one would expect from Romain Gauthier, the finishing and machining are flawless. The thick, finger-like bridges feature the Romain Gauthier signature stepped finish. The outer edge is brushed, and the insides of the bridges have this superb frosted finish. Romain Gauthier has used a mixture of titanium, German silver, and stainless steel to construct this beautiful hand-wound caliber.
The most exciting innovation is the decision to use a cam instead of the more common spring leaver to hack the seconds. Romain Gauthier’s signature balance wheel is on display, with curved arms and eccentric weights. The 60-hour power reserve is excellent, even by today’s ever-growing expectations. In all, the Continuum’s caliber is an absolute joy to behold. Sadly, the model is limited to just 28 individually numbered pieces, for a price of CHF 37,000 excluding taxes. I doubt this is the last we’ve seen of this stunning model, and we’ll continue-um to see more in the future. Geddit? Ok, I’ll show myself out…
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