At the time of writing this, Division Furtive is one of the more unique watch projects over on Kickstarter. Its founder, French Canadian Gabriel Menard, designed the Type 40 and Type 46 models to be original, a bit crazy, and pretty cool. One model is more affordable while the higher-end Type 46 is closer to the original vision that the piece was supposed to be. aBlogtoWatch speaks with Menard to discuss Division Furtive, and what these interesting watches - with their most unexpected features - are all about.
aBlogtoWatch (ABTW): What is Division Furtive and why would watch lovers pay attention to what you are doing?
Gabriel Menard (GM): I've created Division Furtive with a simple guideline in mind: doing small and limited production runs. Most designers will find most satisfaction in their work when their products go mainstream. From my experience doing exactly that and also because I think watches are very personal items, I found it was more attractive to work on smaller productions and focus on uniqueness rather than "try-to-please-everyone-ness". Also, the interaction between the collector and the watchmaker is important to me and this is certainly not possible when going mainstream. If you are a watch lover, chances are this will appeal to you. That being said, I'm perfectly happy knowing only 0.0000005% to 0.000015% of the population bought my product. Again, something that can appeal to the watch lovers.
ABTW: How did you get into watches and where did the inspiration for this project come from?
GM: Knowing I wanted to be an independent designer, identification of the niche market was the other big question. It was an elimination process of all the coolest things I would picture myself designing. Making cars was number one but was certainly too big of a project to take on my own. Making watches was number two...and here I am today! The actual design of the Division Furtive watches came from my desire to innovate while using most of my skill set. Having a background in microelectronics rather than watchmaking (watch journalists have been referring to me as an "outsider"), I found it foolish to try to compete with the 400-year old Swiss watchmaking tradition and take this as a starting point. Still I wanted to do a mechanical design (purely electronic design only came later) so I simply took the shortest path between what I knew was doable and what would look like a mechanical watch.
ABTW: You are using Kickstarter to promote and fund the initial Division Furtive watches. How is that going and how has that possibly changed your initial idea for the watch and what you eventually will be building? View the Division Furtive Kickstarter campaign here.
GM: Pre-ordering is a very important aspect of independent watchmaking. Kickstarter provided the ideal platform and audience for Division Furtive's timepieces. The 30-day campaign (ending December 9th, 2012) is exceeding all my expectations given the £20,000 minimal goal has been reached in only 6 days. This allowed me to jump back into design work much quicker knowing there was a strong demand for my current designs (25% of all the Type 40 and 50% of all the Type 46 have been sold 18 days into the campaign). The Kickstarter campaign is also a good occasion to get feedback and integrate changes that will please collectors (e.g.: wristband).
ABTW: There are two version of the Division Furtive watch, the Type 40 and the Type 46. What are the differences?
GM: The original design is the Type 46. It's an electro-mechanical watch where rotating hands have been replaced by horizontally moving cursors (one for hours and one for minutes). This watch has a sterling silver casing with black nano-ceramic coating, sapphire crystal, leather strap and PVD butterfly buckle. I later had the idea to make the Type 40, a purely electronic version of the Type 46 that could reach a wider audience. The Type 40 has amber LEDs instead of moving cursors and the casing is an epoxy-filled plastic shell with a deeply embossed serial number on the side, making each Type 40 casing very robust and unique at the same time. It has mineral glass and a rubber wristband. Type 40 and Type 46 both have the same features.
ABTW: The concept of the watch is to use two linear scales to tell the time as well as other information. What are all the features that the watches have?
GM: Day, day of the week, AM/PM display (AM or PM are on the bottom cursor and the hours on the top cursor), "exact" minutes display (tens on bottom cursor and units on top cursor), travel mode (east, west and home preset time zone), moon phase, chronometer and battery level. The Type 46 also displays when the next maintenance is due (Type 40 is maintenance-free).
ABTW: In addition functions, the watches are unique in how people use them and set them. Tell us a little bit about the typical ownership experience when it comes to setting, updating, and enjoying the watches?
GM: Both Type 40 and 46 only displays time when the user looks at the watch and that is when the watch is at roughly 45-degrees with respect to the ground (the angle can be customized by user). Under this condition, the Type 40's LEDs will light up and the Type 46's cursors will move from the last time position to current time position. Once the watch has displayed the time, the user can access the secondary functions described previously by tapping the front glass (a single-tap accesses the features listed above the bottom LEDs/cursor and a double-tap accesses the features listed below the bottom LEDs/cursor). The watch returns to "sleep" when the user leaves the time reading position. On the watch's back there is a URL: a.djust.me, this is where the user needs to navigate with a smartphone/PC/Mac's browser to set the time/date of the watch. By placing the watch's back in front of the smartphone/PC/Mac's screen and clicking "set watch", a series of light strobes will transfer time/date data to the watch's light sensor. In less than ten seconds, the watch is fully set. The Type 40 can only be set that way whilst the Type 46 also has the possibility to be set using scales visible through the back glass of the watch.
ABTW: Are the Type 40 and Type 46 watches the end of the Division Furtive project or just the start?
GM: Just the start! Type 40 and Type 46 are the two first models and I'm looking forward to building a brand that collectors will have in mind for exclusive limited edition timepieces.
ABTW: How many of these watches will you make, how much will they cost, and exactly how do people buy them?
GM: There will be 46 units of Type 46 and 1000 units of Type 40. The price of Type 46 is 3600$ whilst the Type 40 is listed at $250. You can currently pre-order a Type 40 or reserve a Type 46 on the Kickstarter project page (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/design-game/division-furtive-dual-linear-wrist-watches) until December 9th, 2012. For the Kickstarter campaign, the Type 40 is offered at a discounted prices of 205$ for random serial number and 220$ for selected serial number (first-come-first-served basis).