I’m a big fan of themed watches, and some brands have really embraced the style. They’re fun and unique, whether representing firefighting like the William Wood Triumph Chronograph or a legendary cartoon character like Bamford’s London Popeye GMT Limited Edition. Bangalore Watch Company has devoted most of its portfolio to watches representing the best of India. For example, the Cover Drive has multiple references to cricket, India’s most popular sport. Its latest Apogee collection looks at 50 years of India’s space exploration with a mature, all-titanium design. We have the Bangalore Watch Company Apogee Horizon on hand, so let’s take a closer look.
INDIA’S SPACE PROGRAMME
The United States, Russia and China are the most advanced when it comes to space travel, each launching their own into orbit, and both Russia and China have maintained proprietary space stations. There’s more to space exploration than that, of course, such as launching satellites and probes, and India has been steadily advancing for five decades. The country was never on the same level as the aforementioned three, but that doesn’t minimise India’s impressive accomplishments. India launched its first satellite in 1975, Aryabhatta, via a Soviet rocket. It wasn’t long, however, before their own rockets were operational as the Indian SLV-3 carried satellite RS-1 into orbit in 1980. This made India the sixth nation to have such capabilities. It established the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in the late 1960s and is among a relatively small group of countries with sophisticated space programmes today. Recent projects include rockets to both the Moon and Mars. Human space flight is the next step and not far off.
The Bangalore Watch Company Apogee Horizon was inspired by the early years of ISRO – the late 1960s and 1970s – and the name “Apogee” means the farthest point of a satellite’s orbit. The watch presents itself as a tribute to ISRO but otherwise has an intriguing, sophisticated design.
The grade 2 titanium case has a matte bead-blasted finish and unibody construction. The entirety of the case is machined from a single block with just the case back as an additional part (you need access to the movement). The brand aptly calls this a “Unibody” design, and it recalls popular pilot’s watches from the 1960s and 1970s (known as helmet watches). Dimensions are perfect for most wrists at 40mm in diameter and 12mm in height (lug-to-lug is only 44mm). Although the large crowns at 2 and 4 o’clock give the watch a super-compressor look, the internal rotating bezel is not for timing dives but for tracking a second time zone.
The screw-down crown at 2 o’clock rotates the bezel, while the push/pull one at 4 o’clock sets the time and can wind the movement. It’s a bit curious why only one crown screws down, but water-resistance is still a respectable 100 metres. A flat sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating protects the dial, while the titanium caseback has an embossed image of India’s first satellite in orbit (Aryabhatta). The 20mm strap is black leather and comes with quick-release levers and a titanium pin buckle.
BLUE FUMÉ DIAL
The deep blue fumé dial graduates to the edge with a shade of dark grey/black, symbolising the view of earth from orbit. Diamond cut, rhodium-plated applied indices are filled with C3 Super-LumiNova, as are the rhodium-plated hour and minute hands. All emit a green glow. The bidirectional, internal rotating bezel relays a second time zone, while a colour-matching circular date window sits at 6 o’clock. I often prefer round date windows to square counterparts, and it definitely works in this case. I have a pre-production watch on hand, so the printed ring around the date window will have Super-LumiNova on retail models. Above the date window are longitude and latitude coordinates, pinpointing the site where all Indian satellites are launched – Sriharikota. You can call it the country’s version of Cape Canaveral. The dial has a matte finish and contrasts well against the hands and indices.
Powering the Apogee Horizon is a Sellita SW200-1 automatic, an alternative to ETA’s 2824. It’s a proven Swiss workhorse with 26 jewels, 28,800vph (4Hz) and a 38-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours, minutes, hacking seconds and the date. Reliable and ubiquitous, you’ll get a lifetime of use with periodic maintenance.
The BWC Apogee Horizon is one of four models in the collection, distinguished by different dial colours. Actually, the fourth option has an exotic meteorite dial. Known as the Extraterrestrial model, it’s limited to 50 pieces and unfortunately sold out. The other two models have a grey fumé (Deepspace) and green fumé (Supernova) dial. Blue dials are all the rage today, and this one really works with the space exploration theme and is arguably my favourite (although I haven’t seen the meteorite dial). Take away the space references for a minute, and it’s a great looking watch on its own, simultaneously retro and modern. The titanium build makes it durable and lightweight, and it’s also the material of choice in the aerospace industry – a no-brainer for the Apogee collection. I was a fan of BWC’s MACH 1 that highlighted India’s Air Force and MiG 21 fighter jet, and the Apogee Horizon continues to showcase the best of the country with a refined, sophisticated piece.
The Bangalore Watch Company Apogee Horizon is currently up for pre-order with a retail price of INR 68,450, which translates to USD 925 or EUR 805 (approximate). It’s a bit higher than the norm for a microbrand, but not bad for a unibody titanium piece with an internal rotating bezel and blue fumé dial (and Swiss automatic). For more information and to place an order, please visit Bangalore Watch Company’s website.