Yes, it isn't a watch, but it is what a belt buckle is when made and designed by watch makers, and people in the watch making world. I haven't specifically written about Roland Iten before on aBlogtoRead.com, but he is an inventor and a designer - and he is very talented. Roland Iten is based in Switzerland, and his items are totally made in Switzerland. Few people have his eye for aesthetic, taste, and engineering. He is sort of an ultra suave nerd - my kinda guy. In fact, in his words, the three principles that lead all of his designs are "performance, skill, and sophistication." The implication is that these elements are what make his inventions interesting, are why his clients are attracted to the luxury gadgets he creates. What I like is that his products are all useful. Perhaps useful in the luxury sense sometimes, but more than mere novelties.
What made Roland's brand famous are his belt buckles. Easily the most complex and interesting belt buckles in the world, they are very cool. While you can live a happy life without one of the R8 belt buckles, if you have one, it is hard to return to the alternatives. What you see before you is the brand's second offered belt buckle, the limited edition R8 Mk.II (MkII, Mark II). I am not exactly sure of how many are going to be in the limited edition (maybe 200 or s0), and I believe the price is $25,000. That comes with the belt buckle, and two belts.
Roland Iten will give you one belt with the R8 MkII, and then you go online to choose the other one you want. After that you can buy additional belts from Roland Iten online or otherwise through dealers. The belts easily attach to the buckle system. What is the point of the whole thing? Well aside from looking cool and making all the kids on the block jealous, it protects the belt from wear and tear, and offers a lever style system that opens the belt up a bit by about 2 centimeters. This is good for when your waist naturally expands and contracts a bit, or after a large meal. This is all done in an incredibly sophisticated, yet efficient manner, made to last, and look good in the process.
While the R8 MkII is comprised of luxury materials, that isn't what Roland focuses on when discussing the watches. In fact, he even feels the diamonds have a functional element (not just decorative) to them - suggesting that in low light situations, the placement of the diamonds (that will shine more than other parts of the buckle) will help you find the right areas you are looking for such as where the belt holes go. The device is engineered to last for years and years (like fine watches), as well as put up with debris and abuse. Roland's belt buckles require no oil for lubrication, and can easily be washed in water. The action of them is great. Everything feels smooth, and the sounds are what you would expect from a high-end luxury item. The buckle also feels very solid. Every part of these buckles is made specially for Roland Iten, and they aren't cheap to make. There are few items in the world that aren't luxury watches that feel quite like this.
Aside from the R8 Mk.I, there are other Roland Iten belt buckles out there - and each comes in a limited edition. You'll need to go his site and learn about the other lines. There are a lot of important people who wear Roland Iten's items. One guy who likes most all of Roland's stuff is Sylvester Stallone. He pretty much always wears the belts. He is actually the first person to be wearing the R8 MkII if I am correct. The main innovation behind the R8 MkII over the MkI is how it treats belts. The MkII has a special pin system that dramatically reduces wear on the belt holes. This allows the precious leather belts to remain in good condition for much longer. This is based on a system with a pin that moves around in the hole much less, and is attached to an arm that moves with the belt.
Like I said, most of the R8 is in white gold and titanium, and I believe a rose gold version will be available as well. There is a little bit of steel in the mechanism, along with some additional precious stones and materials. The video here really shows everything. That is Roland Iten himself showing the R8 MkII. This is the philosophy of fine watch making as applied to other items of daily importance. In fact, Roland's mission as an inventor (like most inventors) is to solve problems. He looks at everyday things a gentlemen does, and finds elegant wants of making them better, safe, more efficient, or just more comfortable. Other interesting inventions of his that are available are special cuff links, shoe lace protectors, a credit card holder, and more to come in the future.
What would really excite me is if Roland Iten ever got into the business of making watches. He has the skill and the vision, not to mention some amazing designs that feature the inventiveness of his other items. I got to check out some graphical representations of these Roland Iten concept watches, and they really impressed me. Soon Roland will also feature an impressive product that is part of a collaborative project with an important luxury car maker as well.
People like Roland Iten are a major reason why I do this. Being able to work with amazingly talented designers, engineers, and inventors is what makes all this interesting. Sure a nicely designed watch or gadget is fun and easy to appreciate, but when that items reaches the level of an "invention" is really gets me stimulated on a higher level.
In the US Roland Iten products are available at Westime.