As fans of watches we love seeing new watches and brands being made available for our wrists, or at least our wish lists. We have featured watch brands attempting to get off the ground via Kickstarter and Indiegogo, some have been successful, others have not. If you have the drive, patience and a few good contacts the ability to start your own watch brand are at your fingertips. The guys behind the “singular source for unusual modern watches”, Watchismo, have taken the plunge into making their own watch, and they’ve got their backing money and then some.
For those not aware of Watchismo, it is a site run by brothers Mitch and Andrew who, since 1999, have been seeking out the odd, unusual and different of the world of watches. They have a large offering of varying styles of timepieces that range from fairly tame, yet different to the completely far out. After being curators for so many years they are now ready to launch their own brand, Xeric.
The Xeriscope, their first watch under the Xeric brand, is currently seeking funding via Kickstarter. However with time to spare they have more than achieved their funding goal, with nearly 400k pledged at this point (they sought only $40k). Like the notoriously successful Pebble campaign, the fact that they could raise so much, so fast is very interesting. With the Xeric, they aren’t going after seasoned watch collectors or watch nerds, but rather people who didn’t know they wanted a mechanical watch. By creating something with an emphasis on its mechanical nature, even if through the use of bells and whistles, they exposed that perhaps the masses are ready to move back to mechanicals. We’ve all probably met a co-worker or friend of a friend who was amazed by the fact that the watch we were wearing wasn’t battery powered… the Xeriscope is aimed at that guy.
The watch, labeled as “The Orbiting Mechanical Automatic Watch” has a busy dial layout with a wide set of functions. The main focus of the dial is the rotating, carousel movement. The escapement of the watch is exposed and acts as the hour hand for the primary time. The entire movement cage rotates around inside the dial once in twelve hours. The minutes are then tracked at the top of the dial in an arc via a double sided hand. One side is longer than the other so that each reaches a different part of the scale on the arc to indicate the minutes, which are marked in increments of five. There are two styles of minute hand depending on the model, one uses circular tips with small pointers to “outline” the current minute. The other uses a simpler double sided pointer.
Flanking the minute arc is a second 12 hour time zone near where 2 o’clock would be, and a power reserve indicator on the other side, which should be read as 100% not 100 hours. The dial, which is available in white or black with various accent colors, has a heavy “Guilloché” texturing, with radiating lines that criss cross, making for a dial without a blank space. The overall design is pretty intense and seems to be determined more by the movement within than by a concept. Clearly the look is attempting at luxury, though the overall effect is a bit ostentatious.
The watch is housed in a 45mm case in steel, PVD gold or PVD black with 22mm lugs and a height of 13mm. The bezel is available in fluted or a plain, smooth finish, and the case has several options as well. They will be shipping with a leather strap and/or a mesh bracelet, depending on which backer package is chosen. The watch also features a K1 mineral crystal lens. The Xeriscope has an MSRP of $600, though is discounted to $475 and available for still less through kickstarter.
One question sure to come up is what movement is inside the Xeriscope. And while the Watchismo team declined to share the origins of the movement with us, it is evident through the watch’s pricing that it is a Chinese made caliber. Not an issue unto itself, as we’ve been quite pleased with Sea-Gull powered watches we’ve reviewed, but an unknown movement by an unknown manufacturer is concerning. Especially one with complications that are far from standard in watches at this price point. Members of WUS have dug into it a bit and seem to have identified the likely source in this thread. Another question that has to be considered is service of the movement, if needed. It is doubtful that many local watchmakers will have experience or parts for the movement given that it is not a standard timepiece. There is no mention of service or maintenance options on their Kickstarter page.
While the design may not appeal to everyone, credit does have to be given to the Watchismo gents for busting their Kickstarter goal 10x over and making the first step with Xeric watches. We look forward to seeing where they go with the brand, and hope that their future projects take a somewhat simpler approach and remain transparent regarding their movement sources.