With Star Trek Beyond now in theaters, we got to thinking about the enormous cultural legacy of the popular science fiction franchise and the influence it has had – not least in the watch industry. The best watch makers are engineers and machinists, which also means there is a good chance they like science fiction too. With the embracement of modern design in high-end watches over the last 15 or so years, we’ve seen numerous timepieces inspired by the things which shaped the lives of the industrial designers and watch makers that made them.
Star Trek happens to be a popular theme, and in some instances watch designs make direct nods to visual themes in the Star Trek universe that would be obvious to most fans. Moreover, consider that the customers of these watch makers must also be Star Trek fans as well, and that at the highest levels they are all too excited to add a Star Trek-themed timepiece to their collection as it only makes their love of watches that much better. aBlogtoWatch is going to mention the major Star Trek watches from recent history that may not always credit the franchise by name, but in aesthetic, they most certainly do. Oh, and even though there are some fantastic horological homages to Star Trek, as a popular science fiction franchise, Star Trek is still beat by Star Wars in terms of the number of high-end watches inspired by it.
Now, please feel free to hit play above and enjoy this article while listening to the theme from Star Trek The Next Generation…
Vianney Halter is an independent watchmaker who comes out with pieces every few years that are complicated and avant-garde to say the least. Between horological projects, Mr. Halter apparently spends his time watching sci-fi, and claims to have learned English from French-subtitled episodes of Star Trek. That alone deserves tribute in a watch. Introduced in 2013 in a 46mm-wide titanium case, the Vianney Halter Deep Space Tourbillon watch indicates the time with blued, arching hands that follow the curve of the tall-domed sapphire crystal and point peripherally inward. Many will recognize that they look like the spires of the Star Trek Deep Space Nine space station, but any ambiguity is averted by writing Deep Space right there on the dial. The hands seem to point toward the main show that is the triple-axis tourbillon. One axis is the tourbillon itself, the second being the shaft on which it spins, and the third is the entire structure that rotates around the dial each 30 minutes. The backdrop of a black movement plate provides a visual sense of, say, deep space. Deep, like the pockets required to fulfill your Trekkie wet dreams, at a price of 180,000 CHF.
If you are reading about high-end watches inspired by Star Trek, some out-there wrist art should be expected. Almost emblematic (at least in my mind) of ultra avant-garde Swiss haute horology is the MB&F HM4 that pushed the boundaries of what a wristwatch can even be when it was released in 2010. The MB&F HM4 deserves a mention here for the movement that looks a bit like the USS Enterprise, but its overall design seems like something that may have been worn aboard the USS Enterprise. While MB&F has stopped production of the HM4 after their all-black HM4 “Final Edition” watch, it remains famous or infamous for its design that is appropriately sci-fi, though apparently inspired by the jet engine turbines of an A-10 plane. The debut “Thunderbolt” model shown above had a price of US$158,000.
Almost as if to outdo Vianney Halter’s tribute to the space station from Star Trek Deep Space Nine, the MB&F Starfleet Machine is less of a “reference” and more overtly shaped like the space station. This is a 32cm-wide and 21cm-tall table clock with a movement produced by Swiss clockmaker L’Epée. There is a Light version (all stainless steel) and a Dark version (deep gray ruthenium-coated stainless steel), referring to the color and not which side of Force it is fighting for (wait, is that the right sci-fi franchise?). Something of this size makes all the exposed, scrumptious horology and variety of finishes even easier to appreciate, and the hands-on pictures in the above linked-to article will be a visual feast for any fan of horology even if you know nothing about Star Trek. Limited to 175 pieces in both colors, price for the MB&F Starfleet Machine is 28,000 CHF.
Granted, this is not a watch or even a clock, but it will certainly be of interest to those those who are fans of both horology and sci-fi, and Star Trek in particular. The MB&F MusicMachine 2 is actually the second spaceship-shaped music box by MB&F to play Star Trek music (along with the Star Wars theme and other songs). The first MB&F MusicMachine was shaped like a spaceship of general sci-fi imagination. The MB&F MusicMachine 2, on the other hand, is without question shaped very much like some variation of the Starship Enterprise that appeared in similar forms throughout the Star Trek series and films. Fun fact: for optimal resonance, MB&F used 350-year-old spruce wood, cut during a waning moon, and selected by an old local man who is the only person with the knowledge to identify the proper tree. The black version is limited to 66 pieces and the white one is 33 pieces, each at a price of US$21,500.
De Bethune, if you didn’t already know, has arguably developed an entire high-end brand based around design language from the Star Trek universe. The shape of the “Federation” logo features prominently on many of the brand’s dials and movements, and it is often integrated so elegantly that it does not even come off as gimmicky – you don’t have to be a Trekkie to appreciate a De Bethune watch. The De Bethune DB28 GS “Grand Sport” is the DB28 line’s “sport watch.” On a rubber strap and with features like a screw-down crown, 300m of water resistance means you could actually take this diving, though that unfortunately also necessitated a solid caseback – so no caseback movement view. At 44mm wide in titanium, the De Bethune DB28 GS wears surprisingly comfortably, but is it healthy to spend US$75,000 on a dive watch to feed your Star Trek obsession? You be the judge.