Ikepod… A mysterious brand, with a design that most of us can easily recall. Yes, Ikepod was all about that: a great design! Founded in 1994 by Oliver Ike and Marc Newson – who designed the watches, and was later involved in the design of the Apple Watch – the brand was famous for its disc-shaped/pebble-shaped watches – watches that would become modern icons. Yet, the story had its ups and downs, and Ikepod stopped production in 2012 when Newson left the company. Until now… as this cult design is back in 2018, with new investors, new people and mainly a new strategy of affordability. Meet the new face of Ikepod, with a collection just launched on Kickstarter.
Ikepod – a cult watch, a complex story
Ikepod, back in the 1990s and 2000s, was certainly among the coolest watches you could get. They were different, voluntarily over-designed, large, and mixing modernity with slightly outdated design elements – a deliberate 1950s UFO style. This surprising recipe, the work of designer Marc Newson (one of the two founders of the brand), made it to the wrist of designers, artists, architects and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. It was the object to make you feel different and cool, while at the same time having a serious Swiss Made, mechanical watch on the wrist.
The brand was founded in 1994 and produced various models, from the Megapode, the Seaslug, the Hemipode, the Horizon or the Solaris – most of the time with a similar formula: a sleek, ultra-clean pebble-shaped case, complex dials with optical illusions or 3D textures, colourful elements and automatic movements.
The company had its ups and downs. Ikepod was declared bankrupt in 2006 but was relaunched in 2008 and then put on hold in 2012, when Marc Newson left the company he co-founded to move to connected watches. Newson was involved in the development of the Apple Watch Series 1, which is why you find the same 1990s Ikepod rubber strap on this tech object. The brand was dormant from 2012 to 2018 – but a new chapter is about to be written.
Ikepod – The comeback, with Kickstarter
For its third launch, Ikepod will have a brand new strategy, even though the design will feel familiar to most of us – and that is good news. During the 2000s, Ikepod had a high-end strategy, with gold or platinum watches, complex movements (chronometer-certified chronographs, tourbillons) and prices that were in line with this strategy. Certainly, this didn’t help the brand survive. In 2018, Ikepod dispenses with the Swiss Made label, the complex movements, the luxurious materials, and gets back to basics and to design. Whether you like this new strategy or not, the market has changed.
What is the new face of Ikepod? After several groups/investors showed interest in relaunching Ikepod, the brand was finally acquired in April 2017 by three new investors, including majority shareholder and new CEO Christian-Louis Col – with a background of luxury brands in watchmaking, jewellery, shoes and decorative objects.
While these gents could have applied the same strategy as used previously, they have decided to rely on the growing concept of micro-brands and affordable prices. The inaugural watches – Duopod and Chronopod – retain the patented round-shaped watch design, the original UFO logo on the dial and the Hemipod (exotic quail) logo on the crown and the sense of design so dear to the brand and its collectors.
What has changed, however, is the positioning of the collections. No more USD 10,000 watches but instead, a focus on affordability and design. The watches are designed in Switzerland but assembled in Hong Kong, with Japanese quartz movements and steel cases only. For obvious reasons, the top assembly (movement encased from the dial-side) has been discontinued, due to the need for specific tools to open the case and service the watch.
Where the new Ikepod remains true to the original concept is in terms of design. Indeed, the watches have been designed with the help of Emmanuel Gueit, one of the watch world’s top designers (the man behind the Royal Oak Offshore and the redesigned Rolex Cellini).
The new Ikepod watches will be offered at first through a Kickstarter campaign, starting today. The watches are launched at reasonable prices: below CHF 400 for the time-only version and below CHF 500 for the chronograph model.
The new Ikepod Duopod and Chronopod, Quartz-Powered (for the moment…)
We had the opportunity to see the entire collection a few weeks ago and here are our impressions. First, these watches are not entirely MONOCHROME material, mainly due to the quartz movements. However, we must note several encouraging points.
In terms of design, both watches remain faithful to the sleek UFO-like case designed by Newson, which adds to the coolness of these watches. Measuring 42mm (time-only) and 44mm (chronograph) in diameter, they wear much smaller than expected – something that has always been true with Ikepod. The cases are well-executed, with precise assembly and nice finishing. Once strapped to the wrist, the original Ikepod feeling is back, no doubt about it.
As for the dials, they go from a clean monochromatic style (silver model) to much more original versions – especially the textured model, which is, to us, the coolest option. Hands and dials are well-executed. As for the strap, the new Ikepod team has decided to use a slightly different model, and not the original rubber strap with loop attachments designed by Newson. The main reason is that this strap is used by Apple and, even though the design was first created for Ikepod, it is wise to avoid such conflicts. However, original Ikepod straps can be fitted on the new watches.
One good point is that, even though the Duopod and Chronopod are quartz-powered watches, they don’t feature a central seconds hand – meaning that there is no seconds beating hand indicating the presence of a battery-driven movement.
As for the future of the brand, note that an automatic version, most likely powered by a Japanese Miyota movement, and measuring 46mm, is currently under development. If the current campaign proves successful, it will be launched in 2019 with a target price of EUR 990.
Ikepod 2018 – Availability and Price
Through the Kickstarter campaign, 5 different models of Duopod (42mm time-only) will be offered – silver, black with 3D texture and orange indices, blue, white and black – as well as a special edition for the campaign – black with 3D texture and white indices and orange hands. These watches will be offered at a price of CHF 330 (early bird). Deliveries are expected in May 2019.
Also, 5 different models of the Chronopod (44mm chronograph) will be offered – silver, black, blue, gun grey, white – as well as a special Kickstarter edition – black with 3D texture and white indices and orange hands. The price for the chronograph starts at CHF 410 (early bird). Deliveries are also expected in May 2019.