The crowdfunding scene is often full of me-too watches, but every now and then we stumble on something worth covering. Igneous has such a watch in the upcoming release of the Santa Maria—a timepiece with a familiar design, but with one small twist that makes it rather special.
Taking the brand name as a lead, one can begin to speculate what is unique about the Santa Maria. Igneous is one of the main three rock types—it’s a magmatic rock “produced under conditions involving intense heat,” such as rocks of volcanic origin. The next clue is the model name, Santa Maria, which is also the name of a volcano located in Guatemala. Put these two together and we have the secret ingredient: a unique dial made from basalt rocks. The polished basalt rocks from the Santa Maria volcano have a deep black color with flecks of gray, which results in a uniquely patterned and striking dial. It’s a dial that one just wants to stare at, even when one isn’t checking the time. Given the variations within the rock, no two dials will be the same. The matte silver hands provide enough contrast from the dial to easily tell the time without the pattern getting in the way.
The dial layout is straightforward and reminiscent of an Explorer dial, except for the marker at 12, which, cleverly, is the Igneous logo. The hands are simple swords with lumed centers and there’s a silver needle second hand. The hour markers are also lumed (Super-LumiNova) around the dial. The crystal is double domed hesalite with AR coating.The case of the Santa Maria measures 40mm. It’s a slabby, two-piece design—there’s no separate bezel—with fine brushing all over. The case is rated to 3 atm, which ideally should have been higher.
Inside is Seiko’s NH35 automatic movement. The display back shows the rotor of the NH35, which is engraved with an image of the Santa Maria volcano.
In hand, the Santa Maria feels solidly made. The brushed case is clean and crisp and the crystal complements the build. While domed, the crystal is not so tall as to be a bump and bang hazard. The dial would have been a gimmick had this not been an otherwise handsome watch. Fortunately, it is.
The accompanying leather strap is a bit plain, with a slight vintage-style look to it. While it works fine on the watch, I’d be eager to swap it out for something else.
The packaging is simple and what you would expect for the price (more on that below); there’s a branded wooden box, a leather pouch, and some basalt rocks from the Santa Maria volcano so you can see the raw material. The set is currently available on Indiegogo for $199 (Early Bird pricing), and the expected ship date is April 2018. Given the movement within, the unique dial, and overall in-hand feel of the watch, that’s a solid deal.
Photography by James Enloe