Not everybody will be familiar with the independent Biel-based brand Horage, but with two modular in-house movements under its belt, it might be a name worth remembering. Frustrated by the lack of accessible movements on the market, the founders of the brand decided to approach their watchmaking dream back to front and decided to tackle the lack of movements by producing their own in-house calibre. The brand’s first watch to feature the K1 automatic movement was the Autark, which now appears with three new dial colours and two case variants in titanium.
Back to front, independent watchmaking
Independence was the fundamental concept behind the Horage watch brand that Andreas Felsl and Tzuyu Huang dreamed up in 2008. After designing a watch to be presented at Baselworld 2009, the founders realised that accessible movements just weren’t accessible and put the project on ice. Undaunted, they decided to go about watchmaking back to front and start with the movement. Enlisting the help of watch movement experts, the K1 automatic was finally ready for action and fitted onboard the Autark model in 2014. Since then Horage has kitted out several watch designs with its K1 movement. Recently, Horage and its sister brand, THE Plus AG, have unveiled a second modular movement with a micro-rotor known as K2 for its own watches and third parties.
Engineering the K1 movement took seven years, and Horage was free to call the shots on the technical specifications. By moderating the speed of the balance to 25,200vph/3.5Hz, K1 can offer a longer power reserve of 65 hours. Other features include a silicon escapement wheel, COSC chronometer certification and modularity. The low profile of K1 can host up to 18 different configurations making it an interesting option for third parties. Visible through the sapphire caseback, the original and highly contemporary decoration of the movement includes an H-pattern made from small blocks on the bridges and a cut-out area on the rotor.
The first Autark watch appeared in 2014 and was named after the German word for ‘independence’. A contemporary watch with big date, small seconds and a power reserve indication on the dial, the Autark was kitted out with the brand’s in-house K1 automatic movement. Now in its second-generation, the Autark returns with three dial colours – Gorge Blue, Jura Green and Swiss Pearl – inspired by the Taubenlochschlucht gorge in Biel. All three models run on the K1 movement and feature big date, power reserve indicator and small seconds. Although the photographs we have here have the words ‘Hand Made’ printed around the 6 o’clock numeral, the watches will feature ‘Biel Bienne’ on the dial instead, a nod to the home town of Horage and its long watchmaking tradition.
Autark Hv – Gorge Blue
The blue dial of the Autark Hv is designed to evoke the waters of the gorge, and its Hv suffix refers to ‘Hardness Value’ derived from the hardened titanium case. Exceptionally resilient, the hardened grade 5 titanium used for the case has a Vickers hardness of 1100 HV, well above the 155 HV of 316L stainless steel. Like all Autark models, the case measures 39mm and has a slim height of 10.05mm. To achieve these low profile dimensions, the case does not have a traditional movement mount and comprises just five key parts. The cushion-shaped case middle, lugs and round bezel all display brushed matte surfaces. The notched bezel adds contrast and dynamism to the ensemble that transmits a pronounced industrial vibe.
The blue dial is silver brushed to create deep vertical lines for depth and hosts a big date at 3 o’clock, a power reserve indicator at 6 o’clock and a small seconds counter at 9 o’clock. The large Horage-designed Arabic numerals, the hour markers and the tips of the semi-skeletonised diamond-cut hour and minute hands are painted with Super-LumiNova. The date window is framed in white and relies on a double-disc for the numbers. The power reserve indicator, gauging the 65-hour autonomy provided by the K1 movement, is picked out in different colours ranging from dark blue to red. The brand’s logo is inscribed in white at noon, and below is a reference to the ‘silicon escapement technology’ of the movement. The Autark Hv comes with a matching blue handmade leather strap with Horage’s patented deployant buckle.
Autark T5 – Jura Green and Swiss Pearl
Once again, the cases of both the Jura Green and Swiss Pearl are made of grade 5 titanium but with polished and brushed finishings for a brighter presence. The smooth round bezel is highly polished while the case middle and bracelet is brushed for contrast (and resilience). Viewed from the side, you can see how the centre of the mid-case has been hollowed and streamlined lightening the already lightweight titanium case even further.
The colour of the Jura Green model is inspired by the early spring colours of the forest and like the Gorge Blue, is silver brushed to create the shimmering lines. Although you’d be hard-pressed to find a freshwater pearl in Switzerland’s rivers, the Swiss Pearl is meant to capture the effect of fresh snow. With the same features and layout as the Gorge Blue, the most striking features of the Jura Green and Swiss Pearl dials are the hour markers. Instead of Arabic numerals, the dials are decorated with shiny and applied three-sided metal indices. Sloping down towards the perimeter of the dial, the wedge-shaped indices play with and reflect the light almost like mirrors. To match the shiny indices, the semi-skeletonised hands also display a bright polished finishing and have a touch of lume at their tips.
These second-generation Autark models are solid, well-engineered watches with a COSC-certified in-house automatic movement and a fairly reasonable price. The Autark Hv exudes an edgy masculine and industrial vibe while the Autark T5 models are more standard sports watch fare. On the wrist, the Hv wears larger than its 39mm would indicate while the T5 with its integrated bracelet sits on the wrist like a 39mm watch. Although they might be hard to distinguish in the dark, I prefer the reflecting wedge-shaped indices on the Autark T5 to the ‘elementary school’ Arabic numbers on the Hv. The big date window is a nice perk but could be a wee bit larger.
Price & availability
All three models of the second-generation Autark retail for CHF 3,500. Twenty models in each colour are now available to pre-order on the brand’s website for an introductory price of CHF 2,990. Once the supplies have been depleted, the price will go up again to CHF 3,500.
More information at www.horage.info.