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Caviar Makes an Interesting Addition to your iPhone (Sort Of) – A Skeletonized Watch Movement on your Phone Case

When boredom sets in...

| By Mario Squillacioti | 4 min read |

The Omega Point is a theory – not a retail location. It is succinctly postulated by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin by the notion “that everything that rises must converge”.  Those of us old enough to remember the way that mechanical watchmaking had to pull itself up out of the wreckage of the quartz-age are also well aware of how mechanical watchmaking has to fight for relevance on the manifold fronts presented by the digital age. In a time when you use a phone to take a picture, why not use a phone to tell time too? Now, we have connected watches that look like watches (sort of) but act like smartphones. Perhaps the currents lifting both the digital revolution and the mechanical revolution are putting them on a collision course? TAG Heuer produced a series of Android-based phones. Ulysse Nardin produced a phone powered by a mechanical oscillator. Why even Kari Voutilainen produced a series of dials (just dials mind you – not functioning watches) for some random Chinese smartphone maker (no, I’m not making this up!) Perhaps the next chapter in the merger of the ancient art of mechanical timekeeping and cutting-edge computing is to physically merge a mechanical watch and smartphone.   Behold the Caviar iPhone XS Grand Complications Skeleton.

There is No Success like Excess

I don’t feel I’m alone in saying this: I need my iPhone. It has my entire life on it; pull down some raw data, crunch it in 10 different ways, text it to another person on the value-chain of life and so on. So where I go it goes. Most times it stays hidden in my pocket or in my bag, or sometimes on the chair next to me, under my hat. While I feel completely naked without it, I’m not always proud of it. It isn’t exactly unique; everywhere I turn I see dozens of them. On the surface, a case protector makes life a bit better but deep down inside I know it is still one of millions. I’ve tried other phones – unsuccessfully. I need that top-to-bottom, seamless integration of IOS; my Android phones were good, but I always felt like I needed a workaround just to share a picture with my family. The folks at Caviar see this issue and have come up with a compelling way to get the iPhone out from under the hat and back out into everyone’s line of sight. Their solution is to integrate a skeletonized, mechanical watch movement into the case of an iPhone XS.

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Caviar already produced exclusive cases for phones using precious materials. Their designs are not for the shy; if you appear at the club or in the boardroom with a phone case that is seemingly hewn out of an ingot of gold (particularly one with a portrait of Vladimir Putin carved into it) you WILL be noticed – but after all, isn’t that the purpose?

The Skeleton case takes that exhibition to a whole different level, but with a novel and rather remarkable technical complication. The Skeleton is a true skeletonized, mechanical watch movement, executed in a relatively flat plane so as to comfortably sit on the case of an iPhone. Indeed, many watch lovers have had to endure the agony of uncouth people saying “…if I want to know the time I just look at my phone…” This totally inverts that blight by putting time back onto a watch… and then putting that watch onto the back of your phone!

I’m not going to lie, I have my reservations – and not insignificant ones. For one thing, there is the price (over USD 6K). I apologize – with two kids in school and two brand-new businesses on the launchpad, money is tight and I do have 3 phones that need covering. Perhaps when I bag my first unicorn I won’t be so ‘Scrooge McDuck-ish’ about my money… Then, there’s the name – again, not the most glamorous, elegant or chic. Also, there’s the look – which admittedly fits the name pretty well.

Another consideration is the reconciliation of accuracy between a mechanical movement which WILL gain and lose time due to a myriad of already well-established reasons sitting on top of an electronic appliance which keeps ruthlessly accurate time. It has already taken a year of detox to get the bitter memories of how accurate my Apple Watch, and TAG Heuer Connected Watch and Montblanc Summit watch were compared to my hopelessly overmatched Co-Axial Seamaster GMT… more watch detox I do NOT need!

5 responses

    Based on ETA Unitas 6498-1 modified mechanics with a manual winding, 17 stones, makes 18 000 vibrations per hour, the power reserve is 30 hours. The mechanism is esthetically improved by Caviar masters: the platinum is decorated with manual engine-turning with the pattern “baroque curls”; the mechanism elements are covered with the double gold covering Double Electroplating (999-gold content, 7 microns). The skeletonized format allows viewing the work of the entire mechanism.
    (from Caviar’s official site)

  2. Thi makes a special kind of device an iPhone (which from what friends tell me needs to be plugged into the charger every day), and needs to be wound every day too. No doubt a lot of skill has gone in to making these but did they have to be hideous. A bit like having a Hublot, shows you have a lot of cash but no taste.

  3. Excellent idea although hardly novel; find a way to get very rich people to feel like they are special and you can basically charge anything. The profit margin here is amazing. These are not hewn, they are largely stamped out, machine engraved and laser cut. The designs are mostly ludicrous, but there are some very beautiful cases here, particularly the ones with Islamic calligraphy. I like the mixed media versions too that accentuate the 3D layering techniques that really are impressive. The skeleton shown here is pretty cool, though for the price it should be far more kinetic than simply housing a watch with steampunk design influence. Overall, this company is poised for success and is certainly not lying to you. I appreciate the dimensionality and willingness to experiment and customize. If I had the money to not care, I could make a stunning piece, and it would be very tasteful and beautiful… me.

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