[EPHJ] WATCHe, watch for Iphones & SmartPhones.


Around the corner of an aisle at EPHJ, sits WATCHe, a revolutionary concept. As usual with new ideas, there have been others: Celcius and especially Ulysse Nardin with its superb Smartphone have already tried the joint-venture between luxury phones and mechanical watchmaking.



Within the current trends, De Bethune presented the DBM with a leather covered body, including a version XXL of the DB10. The concept was based on David Zanetta’s desire to return the watch to be an object at the heart of the personal accessories array.

The object, however visionary and perfectly executed, was nonetheless too heavy and too expensive to be totally convincing.

Today, WATCHe (Pronounced «Watch-is») shows up based on the same idea, but without the De Bethune codes. Codes replaced by a surprisingly micro-mechanical engineer’s work, instead of that of a futuristic watchmaker.

After the WristShot, the EarShort, thanks Vincent Jaton:


Horologically, it is as simple as it is effective with the Unitas 6498 set at 18000v/h, «back to the basics», back to the original caliber for pocket-watches set at low frequencies.

If we are in the great tradition of popular pocket-watch movement, its Cyberpunk exterior makes the link with the «Braun» look of the iPhone (Dieter Rams designed Braun products of the 60s-70s, that have influenced the recent Mac designs).

The overall fitting is surprising for a Unitas, the bridges with a black Rutherium finish enhance the brass wheels of the 6498. To push the idea even further, I expected printed circuits-like treatments, akin to my block-note, through a green PVD for example (and why not some printed circuits patterns); It would be a nice nose-thumbing to quartz watchmaking…

Talking about the mechanism, is talking about 20% of the concept: the serious part really is the gurney that sits around the iphone4, with a ratcheted mobile arm. Ratchet that maintains the arm in any position. Thus, the telephone can be put like a step-stool, on a desk, a night table, etc.

The gurney is made of aluminum, and weighs between 50 and 60 grams, depending on the versions. A 180° mobile arm is affixed on this gurney, which maintains a 360° mobile case containing the Unitas. 3 versions:

We1: Full gurney, iphone fitted watch, 2500chf excl.tax.

We1s: Full gurney, skeleton fitted Unitas, 5000chf excl.tax.

We2: Half gurney, desk clock, iphone fitting, 2500chf excl.tax.

One of the strengths of this product is its«geek» look: rather than positioning the telephone object into luxury, like the phone from Ulysse Nardin or the De Bethune DBM, WATCHe took the horology into severe «geekism».

Rather than a trivialization of watchmaking, it can be seen as the acknowledgement of «geekism» as a major sociological phenomenon.

But its main strength is its infinitely playful character: one can twiddle it, rotate it around its axis, watch the coming-and-going of the pendulum tirelessly, put it down, pick it up again… Outside of the complications, the connection to the watch is contemplative, tactile, which redefines the connection to time.

More superficially, the object is an excellent «talking piece» to show off during functions, to play the «wiseguy», by multiplying the «wise-guyish» power of the iphone by the power of high quality Swiss watchmaking.

The mobile arm system will be removable and adjustable on future gurneys, that will be adaptable to next versions of the iphone (typically, the new gurneys should be priced reasonably).

The price, 5000chf excl.tax for the skeleton version, remains adequate considering the work on the caliber and the object, or even under priced: a Maurice Lacroix fitted with a Unitas with hollowed bridges is double the price, even if the level of finishing is superior.

So , the price for the object itself is reasonable, but indirectly suffers from the fact that a mobile phone is the most stolen object in the world, or lost (with the help of alcohol consumption), and this profoundly social issue (urban delinquency + access to hype electronic gadgets = main theme of the scumbags), cannot be resolved by a micro-mechanical engineer, as gifted as he may be.

Beyond the main problem posed by theft, it is indeed an awesome object. I really had great fun playing with it, and although as a computer specialist I loathe Apple’s products, this item gave me a consuming desire to buy myself an iphone4 (as well as the fabulous application «Trivial Pursuit», but I digress…).


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