Fans of watches powered by things other than a traditional mechanical gear train have something new to contend with today: the Accutron Spaceview 2020 and the Accutron DNA. If these watches look familiar, you’re probably already predisposed to interesting quartz and electronic watches, as the open dials bear more than a passing resemblance to the original Accutron. The two watches seen here represent a new generation of electronic movements, using technology that Accutron previewed at Baselworld in 2019. Let’s take closer look at the Spaceview 2020 and Accutron DNA, and the electrostatic technology that keeps them humming.
The headline here is definitely the movement, so we’ll start there. Unlike traditional quartz watches which use electromagnetic motors to move the hands across the dial, these new Accutrons use an electrostatic motor to do the same thing. Static is the operative word here, and you need to only imagine the small electrical charge you get when, for example, rubbing a balloon against a wool sweater to grasp the concept behind these movements. The Accutrons use twin turbines (which spin like a rotor, when the watch is worn) connected to electrodes to generate static electricity, which is then stored, and finally released to power a pair of motors. One is of the electrostatic variety, which moves the seconds hands smoothly across the dial without a perceptible tick, and the other is a step motor, which powers the hour and minute hands. Timekeeping is synchronized through a quartz circuit that is capable of accuracy of up to 5 seconds per month.
The impact of this new type of movement technology is twofold. First, it achieves an extremely stable rate. Five seconds per month is far better than standard quartz, and in the same neighborhood as Grand Seiko’s Spring Drive movements, which Accutron’s electrostatic movements will likely be endlessly compared to. Secondly, on these debut models with their open dials, it provides a new type of visual experience, with turbines rotating at high speeds and a gliding seconds hand. These watches are visually striking, and at a glance share design characteristics not just with notable Accutrons of the past, but with some of our favorite high end independent watchmakers who take a decidedly futuristic approach to watch design and movement making.
At launch, the electrostatic movement is available in two watches. The Spaceview 2020 variant has a more traditional case, with straight lugs, a round form factor, and plenty of high polishing. The Accutron DNA has a futuristic bent with a tonneau case and hooded lugs, and it’s also a fairly large watch, measuring 45mm wide and 15.4mm thick (the Spaceview 2020 measures 43.5mm x 15.4mm). The DNA is available with dial accents in blue, black, and rose gold in addition to traditional green, which pays homage to the original Accutrons of the 1960s.
New technology like this does not come cheap. The Spaceview 2020 starts at $3,450, and the DNA is priced at $3,300. For that you get a movement that you absolutely won’t find in any other watch, and a design that is similarly unique, and quite appealing to the type of collector who is interested in the technology behind watchmaking. Everything, after all, is on display in these Accutrons, and for someone interested in the science and engineering behind their creation, it would be foolish to cover the mechanism.
That said, it will be interesting to see how Accutron continues to push this technology in future releases. While the original Accutrons that made use of tuning fork mechanisms that displayed the inner workings of the movement have become iconic, many subsequent releases hid this technology behind dials that were more subdued. We’ll see where this current iteration of the Accutron leads, but for now these watches represent an opportunity to show off – and celebrate – a genuinely interesting new movement technology. Accutron