Here we are again with a familiar tune: a new watch brand hopes to be born with your help via Kickstarter. Rather than discussing again how big crowdfunding is and the like we will just jump right into it and talk about Helgray Watches.
This new campaign was born out of the desire for a vintage watch. Most collectors at one time or another go through a few vintage pieces and having done so know the pitfalls and risks: they are too expensive, can be difficult to source parts, too small or not up to the aesthetics of todays standards. Helgray Watches creator, Nadim Elgarhy, went through all of these stages when he was looking to add an affordable vintage piece to his own collection. After being unable to find a suitable piece that fit his criteria his next choice was to start a new watch brand with pieces carrying a vintage look with modern components.
As part of the design process, Elgarhy had three goals he wanted to meet with this project. First pricing needed to be affordable; he set a goal of pricing the watches at under $300. The watches also needed to be uncomplicated in terms of maintenance and ownership. And lastly the style needed to be a mixed balance of vintage and modern elements. With these goals in mind the design and planning phase began.
Meetings with suppliers and manufactures led to the components needed to keep the watch affordable: 316L grade stainless steel, a Hardlex crystal and Swiss quartz movements. The quartz movements will also keep maintenance down as the battery will need to be replaced only every few years rather than needing complicated maintenance on a more expensive mechanical movement. All the movements are Swiss made by Ronda with a different movement for each of the four models (more on that in a bit).
As for the case design inspiration was drawn from World War I military watches. During this time watches were transitioning from pocket watches to wrist watches with some of the earliest wrist watches being modified pocket watches. Wire lugs were soldered to the case allowing for straps to be attached and the watch then strapped to the wrist. The Helgray watches capture this element by using a wire lug style with a modern spring bar to attach the straps. With the strap in place the spring bar gives the perfect illusion of old-school wire lugs. The case is a modern sized 42mm using a classic pocket watch bowl shape. The dials for the four models were all inspired by vintage designs and while all share the same case and hands they still have distinctive looks. The four models available are: Field Officer, California, GMT and Skyfighter.
The Field Officer is a three hand watch, with the date, using the Ronda 515 movement. It has numerals for the hours, except for 6 where the date is visible, with smaller numerals around the very outer of the dial continuing the hours around the 24 hour day. The California uses a California dial – Roman numerals on the upper half of the dial and Arabic on the bottom half – with a sub-seconds dial at 6 o’clock. It is powered by the Ronda 6004.B movement. The GMT has a similar outer track as the Field Officer dial, only rather than numbered for 12 hours it has a 24 hour scale for the GMT hand. It has the dual time and seconds, but no date, running on the Ronda 515.24H movement. The last of the four is the Skyfighter, a dual register chronograph with the Ronda 5021.D movement inside. It appears to share the same or a very similar dial to the Field Officer albeit with smaller numerals. The hands that all four share are stick-type with small tapered points on the end of each. Aesthetically they fit very well on each of the four dial variations and lend well to the vintage feel of the watches. There is no mention of the material used for the lume, but one hopes that it will be a strong compound.
The full shared specs of the watches are as follows:
Case: 316L Stainless Steel
Strap: 20mm Buffalo-grain leather
The four Helgray Watches offered should appeal to a broad audience as all four designs are quite attractive and affordable as well. The “super early-bird” price for the watches start at a very reasonable $125 for the Field Officer; $150 for the California; the GMT comes in at $175 and finally the Skyfighter at $225. As each pledge level runs out the next one bumps the price up by $25. In order to get the project off the ground and provide a beginning run of watches Helgray Watches is seeking a reasonable $12,000.
The Helgray watches in this campaign have a very balanced and stylish look across all the four models. Prices for each are reasonable and affordable and should appeal to new collectors and veterans alike. If one (or more) of the Helgray watches interest you enough to get on board you can make your pledge on their Kickstarter page until April 16th, 2014.