In a galaxy not that far away named Switzerland, two guys went on a mission; building a time-indicating spaceship that would be capable of fighting against the strongest members of the indie scene alliance, with a cool yet not too complex display, and at a price reasonable enough so the rebels could afford it. Ok, I have digressed enough and May the 4th is gone anyway. Back to basics and watchmaking, what we’re looking at is a new, bold and cool initiative that aims at bringing the flair of some of the best and most futuristic watches of the independent watchmaking scene, at a price usually reserved for classic automatics. The project of talented watchmaker Théo Auffret and watch entrepreneur Guillaume Laidet, this is the Argon SpaceOne and it’s now launching on Kickstarter.
Argon Watches is the brainchild of two young men, both very active and already well-established within the watchmaking industry. On one side is Théo Auffret (27), a Paris-based independent watchmaker who won the Journe watchmaking award and has already presented several fascinating, complex watches built by hand – for example, the Tourbillon Grand Sport. Next to him is Guillaume Laidet (37), a watch entrepreneur who’s behind the return of Nivada Grenchen, Excelsior Park and Vulcain. One is all about traditional, high-end watchmaking. The other has a flair for vintage-inspired watches. And their joint venture, Argon, is far away from everything else they’ve done before.
The name Argon Watches pays tribute to the noble gas, number 18 in the periodic table of elements. And the design of the first watch of this newly-developed brand is, without a doubt, strongly inspired by space exploration and sci-fi. These are themes that have been used extensively by some of the most talented and respected independent watchmakers, such as De Bethune, Urwerk or MB&F. What Argon isn’t is a new competitor in this field. The idea is to bring a strong design language and an original display driven by a classic movement, all for a price that would usually be the apanage of a vintage automatic diver.
The first watch of the brand is named the Argon SpaceOne, and the name basically speaks for itself. Design-wise, it is pure sci-fi and space exploration. The case is bold, original, and futuristic yet with a certain vintage, 1980s flair (it has that look of what spaceships were in Japanese cartoons when I was a kid). However, as audacious and different it might be at first sight, it isn’t only a design concept. The SpaceOne is a large watch that will make an impact on the wrist, but that is still wearable. The case is elongated, with a width of 51.67mm, however, the lug-to-lug measurement is only 42mm and the height of the case, at the highest point in the middle, is 12.61mm. And due to the pointy and tapering shape, it feels actually thinner. Don’t get me wrong, it is a 36mm Altiplano, but it remains easy to wear.
The case sports a curved sapphire lens on the right side, opening the view on the time display (more in a few) and the opposite side is home to the conical crown, shaped like the nozzle of a jet engine. The back, made of titanium on all editions, also has an originally-shaped see-through crystal and the water-resistance of 50m is even quite comfortable. At launch, the Argon SpaceOne will be available in 4 different editions; polished steel (as shown here), brushed steel, brushed titanium, brushed and blue-coated titanium and forged carbon.
As you can see, there’s no dial on this watch, but a window offering a view on three concentric discs, displaying the seconds (centre), the hours (middle) and the minutes (periphery). The first two discs are made of brass with super luminous, while the minutes disc, which sits on top of the hour disc, is made of sapphire with super luminous. Also important to note that, for the sake of legibility, the hours are not rotating in a constant motion (like for the minutes and seconds) but are jumping – and this is where Théo Auffret enters into the equation. All in all, reading the time is pretty simple and intuitive.
The recipe for the accessible price of the Argon SpaceOne lies in the use of a rather simple complication, and of an off-the-shelves automatic base movement – the Swiss-made Soprod P024, an alternative to the ETA 2824. In order to bring the jumping hour complication, Auffret has developed a 9-part module, which is connected to the base movement and supports a spring and an intermediate wheel. The minute disc is fixed to an axis including a driving finger that orders the jump. Simple, efficient. The watch otherwise relies on the specs of the base movement, 4Hz frequency and 38h power reserve.
Each version of the Argon SpaceOne is delivered with two 22/18mm FKM rubber straps, one in black, and one in orange. All watches are delivered in a packaging inspired by the vacuum system used to pack food for space travel.
The Argon SpaceOne will be available exclusively during a 4-week Kickstarter campaign, which has just been opened. The polished steel, brushed steel and blue-coated titanium models are not limited and can be pre-ordered during this 30-day period. The brushed titanium and forged carbon models are limited to 100 pieces. Deliveries are estimated for December 2023. The steel models are priced at EUR 1,500, while the titanium and carbon versions come at EUR 1,900.
All in all, the Argon SpaceOne is a pretty cool project with clever ideas and construction. It’s bold and fresh, even if I can’t hide a certain resemblance with the De Bethune Dream Watch 5… But then again, it plays in a totally different league. Altogether, considering the price, it is a strong offering with great people behind it.
More details about here on kickstarter.com.