Every now and then we have the pleasure of discovering something exciting, doing some digging, asking some questions and eventually presenting a new watch or watchmaker to you. It’s often through the blessing of Social Media we uncover some of the most interesting stuff from around the world. And today is one of those days, as we introduce you to Aaron Sarauer, a Canadian-born indie watchmaker set to launch his newest watch, the Ref. 119C. And even though Aaron has studied watchmaking at the WOSTEP institute in Neuchatel, Switzerland, his atelier is based in Saskatoon, Canada. Not the first place to think of when it comes to high-end traditional watchmaking, but we’ve learned that location should not be an obstacle, really. And as far as traditional mechanical watches are concerned, the Sarauer Ref. 119C is quite a good one!
The story starts with a passion for watchmaking developed at a young age, as most of these stories do. Aaron has been fascinated by watchmaking for more than 20 years, which is about half his life. He completed his studies in 2011 and since has worked as a prototype and parts developer for various companies, including a stint of almost 2 years as a watchmaker for McGonigle. With 2 decades of watchmaking and related work under his belt, he founded his own company in 2020, and is now launching his Ref 119C watch, the latest creation to come from his atelier in Canada. We’ll go into Aaron’s history and watchmaking a bit more at a later point in time with an interview, so we’ll move to the watch for now.
The Ref. 119C is a very interesting mix of classical elements and contemporary touches, set in a 39.5mm wide and 10.8mm tall case. The design of the case is quite stout, with a straight caseband, sharply edged bezel and shaped lugs. The dimensions sound very good on paper, especially considering the type of base movement used (more on that in a bit). On top is a domed sapphire crystal, with a flat one covering the movement around the back. The case is custom made, and executed in 316L stainless steel although I’m sure precious metals are possible too (if you ask nicely). The crown is made by hand, with sets of four angled cuts to give it some profile and grip.
The dial is a work of art, with a hand-applied guilloché pattern on the outer edge. The main dial has a very fine horizontal brushing, with a grained small seconds subdial cutting into it. The devil is in the detail, however, as you’ll notice the position of the hour and minute hands is pushed up a bit. The indices and numerals are made and applied by hand, and the seconds subdial is framed by a sloped and dotted track. In terms of colours, the dial shows a fine balance of various tones of grey and silver, with a hint of champagne on the offset hour and minute dial section. Aaron also designed the hands himself, with a polished spade-shaped hour and minute hand and a heat-coloured small seconds hand. The only script on the dial is Aaron’s personal signature, which is very subtly done.
Aaron used the geartrain of the tried-and-tested ETA/Unitas 6498 movement as a starting point to create his own SH1 movement. It’s designed by Aaron, with some of the parts manufacturing and finishing done by external experts until Aaron can bring work in-house. Many parts executed in German Silver, radiating that soft champagne glow we love so much. Using the ETA/Unitas 6498 is far from a shame, as it provides a rather large canvas to play around with and remains a reliable movement. It can be found in tons of watches, with fellow indie watchmakers Felipe Pikullik, Keaton Myrick and Torsti Laine coming to mind. Aaron completely reworked the mainplate to be able to fit it into this relatively compact case. The position of the hour and minute hand has been pushed up too. It features a bespoke balance with a hand-formed mainspring with Breguet overcoil. The finishing also looks extremely pleasant, with perlage on the mainplate, bevelled edges, polished screws, various types of brushing and more. The power reserve is 46 hours when fully wound and the movement is signed with an 18k gold plaque.
The Sarauer Ref. 119C comes on a handmade strap in a wide range of leather types and colours, fitted with a bespoke buckle. It is limited in production to just 29 pieces, with an annual production capacity of 3 to 6 watches. The price is quite steep, at USD 29,900 before taxes, but considering the amount of labour poured into it, it’s not unreasonable. And as often is the case, Aaron is open to bespoke options like gold indices and numerals, different colours or guilloché patterns.
For more information on Aaron and his newly created watch, please visit SarauerHorology.ca