Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

The Black Ceramic CIGA Design Blue Planet Gilding

A golden follow-up to the 2021 GPHG Winner “Blue Planet Titanium,” which was a first for a Chinese watchmaker

| By Erik Slaven | 4 min read |

Here’s an interesting fact – China is the largest manufacturer and exporter of watches. Bigger than Switzerland, bigger than Japan, bigger than all of them. Although most are seen as “cheap” and inferior to counterparts from Switzerland and the like, it’s an impressive statistic. Bucking the stereotypical perception of Chinese watchmaking is CIGA Design, which not only produces watches with Swiss or European desirability, but its Blue Planet Titanium won the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Challenge Award in 2021. A first for a Chinese brand. The unique design without conventional hands is certainly eye catching and this follow-up is gilded with 24k gold. Meet the CIGA Design Blue Planet Gilding.

What is CIGA Design?

Founded in 2016 by Zhang Jianmin in Shenzhen, China, the brand works with eight international designers (each from a different country) to push the envelope of watch design. Zhang has a background in industrial design and was a graphic designer for airports, train stations and other public transportation systems prior to venturing into watchmaking. CIGA Design may be a young brand, but already has an impressive record that speaks for itself. In addition to the coveted GPHG award, it has multiple Red Dot Design awards among many other international awards. In fact, the brand has nine of the thirteen Red Dot Awards for Chinese watches.

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The CIGA Design Blue Planet Titanium we reviewed last year.

A Pebble for the Wrist

The case has a very round aesthetic, much like a pebble, without protruding lugs to interrupt the flow. This isn’t unique in and of itself as other brands have embraced the minimalist look, most notably Ikepod and even microbrands like Auteur with the Revolution, but it’s the overall execution that matters. It’s a large watch at 46mm in diameter and 15mm in height, thanks in part to a high domed sapphire crystal, but the polarizing dimensions provide an expansive canvas for the dial. The included bracelet and strap tuck into a recess at either end, maintaining a seamless look, while the crown is just enough to be seen without being noticed. The exhibition case back displays a new, patented automatic. Water resistance is 30 metres.

A World of Time

Living within this almost spherical case is quite literally a world. The dial steals the show with an aluminum dome representing continents around the Indian Ocean. The relief is achieved via multiple CNC milling processes and a gilded layer of 24k gold covers a deep black representing the ocean. It’s a fancy upgrade to the prior model with silver continents and blue water. In lieu of conventional hands, time is displayed via the miniature globe rotating with a compass rose acting as an hour hand. There’s a fixed outer hour ring with a detailed scale and inner minute ring that rotates 390 degrees every hour, compensating for the hour “hand” rotating only 30 degrees every hour. This allows the hours and minutes to align with the hour pointer at all times.

In-House Automatic

The Chinese calibre is new and innovative, using non-synchronous tracking technology that allows for the unconventional display. We’ve seen this kind of alignment before with the SNGLRTY Blue Steel OHI-4, but never quite like this. The movement has 30 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz) and has a 40-hour power reserve. Accuracy is rated at -15/+30 seconds per day. This certainly isn’t groundbreaking on paper, but as with the design, execution overcomes any shortcomings in specs. It’s truly a spectacle on the wrist. Decorations include perlage and stripes, and presents as well as comparable ETA or Sellita counterparts.

Final Thoughts

Unique and innovative designs usually impress me more than COSC accuracy and precious metals, and the CIGA Design Blue Planet Gilding is no exception. Its creative, unconventional design adds a bit of fun and whimsy to time telling, turning something potentially mundane into an experience whenever you check your watch. It’s large case and unusual dial won’t be for everyone, but for enthusiasts wanting something truly different for a down to earth price, this award winning, golden globe of a watch delivers.

The CIGA Design Blue Planet Gilding has two straps in the box – a matching, single-link ceramic bracelet with butterfly clasp and a black fluoroelastomer rubber strap. All of this comes at a price of only USD 1,899. Quite a bargain for such a unique piece and 2021 GPHG winner.

For more information, please visit CIGA Design’s website.

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