[VIDEO] Hands-On: Argon Space One Jump Hour

Are you ready for the final frontier? Or rather, the next frontier? A new frontier, at the very least? Yes, all signs point to a big change in the world of watches on the horizon. A new world, or I guess frontier to be consistent, where you don’t have to win the lotto, inherit tons of wealth, or be uncommonly successful to buy an exotic watch. A world where brands that were once considered too small to matter are standing their ground against giants, showing that with a passion for watches and an innovative spirit, the seemingly impossible can occur.

This is a very dramatic way of saying that there have been some cool releases in the last few years that have been accelerating in their frequency, indicating the beginning of a new trend of the previously “exotic” becoming more obtainable. We’ve seen affordable wandering hours pop up for a few years from the likes of Gorilla and Atowak. We’ve seen unexpected collaborations between approachable brands and high-end independents like Louis Erard and Vianney Halter. We’ve seen high-end independents branch out into the approachable space with offshoots like Kurono Tokyo by Hajime Asaoke, SUF Helsinki by Stepan Sarpaneva, and M.A.D. Editions by Max Büsser. We’ve seen Christopher Ward shock the world by releasing a dial-side sonnerie au passage with the C1 Bel Canto.

We’ve seen more too, so perhaps the trend is already here. Reinforcing this is the subject of today’s review, the Argon Space One. The first watch by a new brand, it’s a taste of the exotic from an interesting duo. Both French, one specializes in reviving old brands and works within the approachable space. The other, is an award-winning high-end independent. Industrialization meets bespoke. Together, perhaps a new disruptive watch business will emerge. Regardless, their first watch is certainly something different from the norm, heavily leaning into the exotic.


[VIDEO] Hands-On: Argon Space One Jump Hour

Forged Carbon
Soprod w/ In-house Jump Hour Module
Sapphire Disks
Water Resistance
52 x 42mm
Lug Width

Notable Specs and Features

Basically, everything about the Argon Space One is notable, or at least, unusual. First, the founders of the brand are Theu Auffret and Guillaume Laidet. Let’s start with the latter, as he’s more of a regular presence on Worn & Wound. Guillaume is one of the people behind Nivada Grenchen, Excelsior Park, Vulcain, and others. Part of the Montrichard Group, he’s helped spearhead the revivals of these iconic brands maintaining their authenticity while maintaining reasonable pricing. Guillaume is a brand builder with a keen sense of the current trends in the enthusiast market.

Theo Auffret is from a different side of the world of horology than Guillaume. A young watchmaker, he’s been trained in the ways of classical watchmaking. After various apprenticeships, he went on to win the F.P. Journe Young Watchmaker’s Award in 2018. He has since created two models, the Tourbillon in Paris and the Tourbillon Grand Sport, which was shortlisted for last year’s GPHG awards. Handmade and small batch, his watches are firmly in the high-end independent category.

So, a dynamic duo of sorts. Both are young, both are involved in watchmaking but in different ways, and both are French. In coming together, they created something quite different than either was doing previously. The Argon Space One combines exotic design with exotic materials (sometimes), and an uncommon, if not exotic, complication that had to be designed in-house but did so at an approachable price point.

The case, as the name “Space One” suggests, is sci-fi in appearance, coming in somewhere between a small-scale spaceship, and some sort of wrist-mounted device you might find on a 90s-era Batman costume, which, according to conversations had with the brand, started as a sketch by Theo Auffret. Neither a square nor a circle, asymmetrical, and with a non-centered “sapphire cockpit” instead of a traditional dial opening, it’s firmly strange and different. There are also various grooves and curves throughout, with no surface being quite flat. Coming in at about 42mm x 52mm x 12.65mm, it’s an odd size as well, being quite wide, but not long. Lastly, you have your choice of steel, titanium, or forged carbon.

There is one last trick up the Space One’s sleeve, which is that it’s a jump hour. There are three discs visible through the “cockpit”, one graphic and small at the center, the other two with large numerals representing seconds, hours, and minutes in that order. While the seconds and minutes are always in motion, the hour is still, “jumping” just at the end of the hour. In this arrangement, it creates essentially a digital readout.

A simple concept, there was no off-the-shelf movement or module available, at least at a reasonable price (I believe there are jump-hour Dubois Depraz modules). So, Theo Auffret designed one to work with a Soprod base. While quite a bit different than getting a hand-made tourbillon, it’s still very cool to have something mechanical designed by Theo Auffret at this price point.


Watches like the Space One are a bit hard to digest. They don’t conform to the guidelines of the watches I typically wear or look at, so I have to sort of recalibrate. My initial reaction was that it was cool, but jarring. I appreciate that the case shape is sculptural and aerodynamic. It looks like a solid piece of material that has been machined into a form, rather than the typical series of pieces that assemble into a watch case. It’s asymmetrical and off-center (in terms of the strap placement) which furthers its oddness. I’m not sure if I like it, but I do appreciate it.

Additionally, there isn’t really a dial in the typical sense of the word. The “sapphire cockpit” is a dramatically shaped lens that follows the contours of the case. It’s far more three-dimensional than most crystals, but also quite small. It only allows for the view of a small wedge of what would typically be considered the dial. But, there also isn’t a dial surface, nor hands. Instead, there are discs creating a horizontal digital readout.

The jump hour was essential for readability, though it’s still not the easiest thing at a glance. The minutes are in motion, and due to space constraints are printed at intervals of 5 in a large size, and in between at a smaller size. But, given the space, the “in-between” numeral isn’t X.5 – it’s rounded up. So, 3’s and 8’s. That’s not really accurate. So, unless a number ending in 0 or 5 is perfectly aligned, you’re guesstimating the minutes.

So, not only does it not feel or look like a regular watch, it’s not read like one either. It’s more about generalizing the time than telling it exactly, like with a one-hand watch. That takes some getting used to, but I don’t think you, if you’re a customer, are here for the typical experience either.

And then there’s how it wears. This a wide watch at 51.6mm. It also sits off-center, pushing the crown side far down the wrist. This did lead the crown to sometimes pushing against my arm. Conversely, the front side, which is a convex wall (that looks like it’s aching for an LED or something), sort of cradles the back of the hand. Similarly, the case back doesn’t fully sit against the wrist, raising up towards the left and right sides of the surface. These both help with comfort. Unless you wear your watch on your right hand, in which case, this just isn’t for you.

Otherwise, it wears like an odd little device. Not quite a watch, not a wearable either. In carbon, it’s very light and also, obviously, quite dark and matte. Carbon cases are, ahem, fancy plastic, which I’m not opposed to, but they don’t feel as substantial as metal. Because of that and the shape, there is definitely something a bit toyish about the watch. But, I don’t think that’s an issue. Like the watches of MB&F, there is a sort of whimsy and nostalgia to a design like this. It’s the wrist-mounted-scifi-communication device I pretended to run around with as a kid… but now a watch with some serious chops behind it.



I’ll be blunt about the design of this watch: it’s not for everyone. Chances are you’ll know immediately if you’re into it or not. Simply by being non-traditional, it’s going to be divisive. Like an MB&F, Uwerk, or De Bethune, it either suits you or it doesn’t. While I tried to get into it, I’m not sure if I ever did. That said, I’m so into the idea of these two guys working together, developing watches with exotic looks, in-house developed complications, etc, at approachable price points, that the fact that this one isn’t for me personally really doesn’t matter.

And if it’s for you? Well, there’s not much else like it. In terms of pricing and availability, the Argon Space One will be launching on May 11th on Kickstarter starting at 1,499 Euros, with the price depending on the material chosen from steel, titanium, and carbon. Argon | Kickstarter

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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