We’re always glad to see people trying to make new and affordable mechanical watches, and we’re happy to help spread the word when they are using Kickstarter or other crowd-sourcing platforms to fund their project. This most recent project that was brought to my attention is of particular note, because the watch isn’t just a mechanical, it’s an automatic chronograph, which is especially difficult to make affordably. The problem, naturally, is a lack of movement options.
This is the challenge that Lew & Huey watches set before themselves when trying to make their first watch, the Riccardo. Their solution, of course, is to use a Seagull ST1940 caliber automatic chronograph. Much like the ST1901, which you can find in the Seagull 1963 or the Techné Sparrowhawk, the ST1940 is a column-wheel chrono movement with blued screws and various other decoration, as well as 33 jewels. The ST1901 is a very cool movement and adding automatic winding to it just makes more practical, albeit at the expense of movement visibility and thickness. Anyway, by utilizing this Chinese caliber as well as Chinese manufacturing, they are able to make the watch $550, and that includes a sapphire crystal.
Of course, none of this would matter if the watch design itself was not appealing. Luckily, it’s not bad looking. The Riccardo was clearly inspired by chronographs of the 70’s, with a bi-compax design featuring metallic blue or black dials, brightly colored hands and applied baton markers. It’s a very simple and sporty design that luckily doesn’t go overboard. The one detail I could have done without is the big dog logo at 12, just not my cup of tea. That being said, I like it on the crown, which is a more appropriate place for such a quirky logo. The case design is quite elegant, with twisting lugs and elongated chrono-pushers. At 42 x 49 x 14.5mm with 20mm lugs it’s also a nicely proportioned sport watch that will have a sensible amount of bulk, but not be too big.
For their Kickstarter, they are trying to raise $40k, which isn’t small change, but also seems obtainable. The money will go to support production of the current model and to help develop their next watches. Their donations range from $1 for a thank you note to $846, which will get you two watches. The most tempting is clearly the $450 option, which will get you a watch of your choosing for $100 off the end price.
While I wish they wouldn’t say “it’s likely to become a classic along the lines of the Rolex Daytona and Tag Heuer Carerra” in their project description, as that’s like saying your band is going to be as big as the Beatles, I do think the overall design is nice if you can get past the logo. And no matter how you look at it, $450/550 for an automatic column-wheel chronograph with a sapphire crystal is a great price.
So, if you like the watch and want to help out, go over to Kickstarter and show your support
by Zach Weiss
pictures courtesy of Lew & Huey Watches