New Independent Swiss Caliber the HORAGE K1
By Aaron Recksiek, CW21
—The Accurat Swiss Caliber K1 by HORAGE, named after the Masherbrum peak in the Karakoram mountain range, is a project nearly 10 years in the making. In 2002 ETA left the watch community reeling when they announced they were going to begin weaning the industry off its heavy reliance on their calibers. In 2006 Tzuyu Huang, CEO of Momoplus AG, a watch case, dial, and hand manufacturer, and Andreas Felsl, creator of Bionicon, a precision-bicycle manufacturer got together a group of mountain-bike company entrepreneurs, engineers, watchmakers, and designers to create an independent watch-movement manufacturer that would not rely on massive investors or other major watch companies for their parts supply.
They wanted to accomplish a few key objectives:
- To develop the production of a mass-produced base movement with the ability to easily add new functions and complications.
- To have the ability to create new product lines with similar dimensions and looks without having to change too much of the watch.
- To have the ability to be partially interchangeable with some of the dimensions of the ETA 2824-2 caliber, but not be a clone.
- Also, to use high-tech modern materials and processes that aren’t based on calibers using mid-20th century designs.
They started from scratch to create the most unique independent watch movement to date. In hindsight, the founders are glad they didn’t have big money behind them. They feel it allowed them to be more methodical, to find new avenues for part manufacturing, and really test the limits of affordable mass production.
The K1 incorporates several unique features, some of which are extremely surprising to see
in an independently mass-produced caliber. The escape wheel, pallet fork without pallet stones, and hairspring are all made of silicone. The ability for Accurat Swiss to use silicone was only possible due to the pioneering works of Intel and Bosch of Germany, industry leaders in manufacturing the material. The balance vibrates at a frequency of 3.5 Hz or 25,200 beats per hour, similar to the newer Omega coaxial calibers. The rotor is tungsten carbide to integrate more weight as leverage into a smaller-sized part. The power reserve is 56 hours, more than the traditional 48 or 50 hours commonly available. That means if the watch is taken off at 11:00 p.m. on Friday, it could potentially still be running at 6:00 a.m. on Monday.
Available in 18 different variations, the K1 set out to be as versatile as possible without changing the base movement configuration. The available variations contain none or several of the following complications: small seconds at 9:00, center seconds, big date at 3:00, regular date at any position, and power reserve. The variation of the caliber is indicated by a dash and an additional two digits ranging from K1-11 to K1-36.
HORAGE has been working quietly behind the scenes to accomplish their goals but recently decided to turn to the newly popularized crowdfunding to reach their next milestones. They just completed a Kickstarter campaign that ran from May 27, 2015 to June 26, 2015, where they sold a special, limited-edition watch with a skeletonized dial and hands so the movement could be seen in all its glory. The watches were sold for the cost of production, and the proceeds were earmarked to increase their production capacity. During the 30-day period they sold 124 watches at £990 ($1,545) per watch and raised £121,803 ($190,074) towards their cause.
You can currently purchase watches containing the K1 caliber via the HORAGE website, starting at CHF 2,600 ($2,759). The Accurat Swiss website contains all the movement specifications as well as available technical documentation. The company hopes to increase production in the near future and make the caliber available for purchase by other watch brands and independents.
HORAGE is now seeking retail partnerships in the US. The brand will offer a revenue-sharing model based on a smartphone-enabled checkout and payment process called BrandCloud. In doing so retailers will be able to seamlessly integrate into the brand’s future commerce strategy.
Andrew DeKeyser is the owner of HCP Watchmaking in Sisters, Oregon. He graduated from the Lititz Watch Technicum with WOSTEP certification.