The year 2020 isn’t great for a lot of things – weddings, sports, mental health in general – but if you’ve ever had half a mind to start a watch brand, there’s probably never been a better time to do it. Thanks to crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, anyone with an idea can pitch it to a world of potential customers without ever leaving the house. The results are mixed, to say the least (why, for instance, are there so many wooden watches? Who wants this?) but such is the beauty of crowdfunding.
The system works by allowing the most popular and original ideas rise to the top and eventually make it onto the wrists of the people who want them, while the others are sent back to the drawing board. Here are some of the best ones on the site right now.
Giorgio Piola SPEEDTRAP Collection
Italian artist and journalist Giorgio Piola probably knows more about Formula One cars than many Formula One drivers. Over a 40-plus year career spent in pit lanes and paddocks around the world, Piola’s illustrations have made him one of the sport’s greatest authorities on car design. While this is not his first foray into watch design, Piola’s latest creation, the SPEEDTRAP, features a dial inspired by a F1 steering wheel, along with a bunch of other high-performance details. Like all of his other watches, this one will be powered by a Swiss quartz movement, which helps keep the price accessible. Higher-level backers will also receive autographed posters by Piola.
The Axios Ironclad is not attempting to re-invent anything with this classic professional dive watch, just do it at a lower price than the competition without sacrificing quality. As such, the Ironclad is proposed as a 500m waterproof watch in 316L stainless steel, with a unidirectional ceramic bezel, Super-Luminova dial, a domed sapphire crystal and a Swiss-made automatic movement. Priced at just under $1,000, it’s not hard to see how this piece was funded in less than 3 minutes. It’s now available for pre-order.
RESQ Trek watch with SOS beacon
The makers of the RESQ did not invent the idea of a watch with an SOS beacon, but they are proposing to put it within the reach of a lot more adventurers with this budget-priced solar-powered prototype. Unlike most watches on Kickstarter, which you can pre-order by backing their project, this one is still very much in the early stages of design. Anyone kicking in $500, however, will have the unique opportunity to take part in the testing phase of this watch once (and if) it is funded and produced.
TELEMETRY: Apollo Watch
This funky, 1960s-style watch created by an aerospace engineer and a US Air Force veteran, will be catnip for anyone with a moonshot obsession. Its design is inspired by the dials and gauges found in the command module of of the Apollo rocket, giving it a unique visual connection to the 1969 moon landing. Like many Kickstarter watches, it is powered by a fairly basic Swiss quartz movement, but the Telemetry’s appeal is really down to the unusual case and dial design.
6B/2617 The Original NATO Strap
Watch nerds love to debate the origins of watch designs, perhaps none so much as the NATO strap. This company aims to put the debate to rest once and for all with its authentic reproduction of the original nylon NATO strap from 1954. Creator Rob Fraser has already had success with previous Kickstarter campaign to produce a faithful repro of a WWII NATO strap, and comes to this project with two years of experience in design and sourcing. Even if you don’t end up backing the project, Fraser’s rundown of the NATO strap’s history is an interesting read for anyone who cares about military watches.