Vault V1 Watch

Vault V1 Watch

Vault V1 Watch Watch Releases

There are many watches inspired directly by a particular object, idea, or even historical event. They often aim to represent some intangible notion, and some are successful while others come off as kitschy. So, my interest was at least piqued to learn of a watch inspired by bank vaults, since that is a theme we don't encounter too often. Founded in 2013 by Mark Schwarz and Philippe Schmid with a singular focus to create their dream watch, Vault has, now in 2017, introduced their fist product, and its design is intended as an homage to a bank vault's time lock mechanism.

Vault V1 Watch Watch Releases

There are two parts to understanding what the Vault V1 watch is all about, and one is the way in which the time is displayed, while the other is how the time is set. What you first need to know is that setting the minutes on the Vault V1 watch involves rotating the full movement itself, while setting the hours involves rotating the dial itself.

Vault V1 Watch Watch Releases

Before we get into how it all works, though, let's begin with how to read the time. The easy part is that the minutes are displayed with a traditional minute hand. The hours are displayed on gears and indicated by a sapphire crystal above them that is partially smoked, with a stark line fading gradually in a circle to transparent. The line between the smoked and transparent parts is what is used to indicate the hour. Did you notice that the hour markers are not in their usual positions in the pictures? We'll return to why that is, if you haven't already guessed.

Vault V1 Watch Watch Releases

First, much like regular time-setting on a watch, the crown pulls out to different positions, but here they are for setting the hours and minutes separately, along with a "locked" mode for when it is all the way pushed in. The current mode is helpfully indicated in the lower right of the dial with H, M, and L.

What is particularly unusual on the Vault V1 is that when you set the minutes, the entire movement rotates with the minute hand - and you can observe this through the open dial, with the movement continuing to operate as it turns. The sapphire disc for indicating the hours also turns with the movement when setting the minutes. ...Wait, it will all make sense shortly!

Vault V1 Watch Watch Releases

Next, to set the hours, one pulls the crown to the H position. Then, turning the crown will rotate the entire dial while the numerals displayed on gears also rotate to remain facing upright - the brand calls this system "hour gear transmission." This means that each time you set the watch, the hour indices will be in a different position. Vault talks a lot about how this changes the face of the watch each time it is set for a unique look. Ok, I lied when I said it would all make sense.

Vault V1 Watch Watch Releases

It seems like there could hardly be a more complex and convoluted way of doing something as relatively simple as indicating the current hours and minutes - welcome to haute horology! And because the hours are not indicated in their standard positions and will change each time you set it, this means you will actually have to "read" the watch whenever you want to know the time. There is apparently a lot of philosophy about how this represents man's relationship to and perception of time behind Vault's concept. But, really, I think it's all about showing what is possible and trying to do something that people haven't seen before - which gets harder with each novel, alternative time-telling contraption the watch industry turns out.

Vault V1 Watch Watch Releases

Vault claims that what they call an "autonomous movement" represents the first time for such technology to be used in a timepiece. What does that mean? The movement is "autonomous," it would seem, in the sense that the crown does not directly interact with the movement's operations.

The Vault V1 is powered by the V01 automatic movement which is produced exclusively for the brand by independent watchmaker Andreas Strehler and his company UhrTeil AG, so we should expect it to be attractive with a fine quality of finishing. It also appears that the watch does not offer hand-winding and can only be wound via the automatic rotor. Though the Vault V1 is closed at the back, you obviously still get a good look at the movement from the dial side, and there is a lot of depth, motion (especially when setting the time), and visual interest to appreciate. The V01 beats at 21,600bph and delivers a healthy 50-hour power reserve.

Vault V1 Watch Watch Releases

I'm actually impressed with the Vault V1 and think it comes off as genuine and original. With a 39mm x 46.7mm squarish case in steel, titanium, 18k rose gold, 18k white gold, or platinum, the Vault V1 is appealing in a modern art-deco sort of fashion that really speaks to my tastes. Honestly, I can't say how closely the design is related in function to that of a bank vault's time lock device, but looking at something like the image below, the inspiration is clear. And the strength and security of a bank vault with its complicated mechanism is certainly a nice association for a product like this to have.

Vault V1 Watch Watch Releases
Bank vault door with time lock mechanism on the righthand side.

Vault V1 Watch Watch Releases

The Vault V1 is just the beginning for the brand and an ambitious one at that. It is limited to a run of only 8 pieces and paired with a black rubber strap. Pricing begins at 50,000 CHF for the steel and titanium versions, and will go up from there, of course, for bespoke and precious metal versions. vault.com

What do you think?
  • I want it! (21)
  • Interesting (16)
  • I love it! (10)
  • Thumbs up (10)
  • Classy (4)
  • Interesting is how they can make readable still illegible (at a glance anyway). I had some serious reservations about all of that gear train until I read that Andreas Strehler designed it. Now I feel better about it. Oh yeah, the HML indicator is lower right, not lower left Richard. Cheers.

    • ZL

      Thanks Mark, that was my bad. Fixed it.

  • awildermode

    I have been trying to figure how to read this watch. Are all the images showing 2:10?

    • IG

      You figured it out! Now, go to your vault, grab that 50,000 CHF and send it to Herr Schwarz and Herr Schmid.

  • SuperStrapper

    How is this a fist product? Do I wear it on the cost, not wrist? Or should it be present when punching a face or giving props?
    /sarcasm

    I actually enjoy the Rube Goldberg-esque design of setting and reading the basic time, it’s what makes watches fun. The appearance of all the gearing is attractive and we’ll thought out, as it certainly does suggest the look and feel of a vault’s time lock system, as evidenced in the stock photo provided.

    Can’t say I’m a fan of the case shape. Funny it is called the V1 as the case shape immediately reminds me of TAG’s V4. Almost everything about the movement and appearance is circular, so the squared case seems like a mismatch. I’d also probably prefer something more dedicated on that smoked sapphire to point out the hour in question than that split in clarity. A subtle dot or mark etched into the ring would likely make reading the time for straightforward without sacrificing the design.

    Regardless, cool concept, and I’d be interested in a hands-on review if one of these gets produced, or even to see what it looks like in an actual photo.

    • Mark Schwarz

      Hi super strapper, thx for your feedback. As we commission the V1 you have a lot of customizing possibilities which also include the sapphire crystal disc. Laurent Auberson, our in-house designer is always happy to assist.

      • SuperStrapper

        Great to have to active on this blog: do you have any natural photos of your watch? Or better, a video of it in action?

        The renders are great, but I want to see the goods.

        • Mark Schwarz

          Of course, you can find the link to our YouTube channel in this thread. I am sure you will love the vid 🙂
          Best wishes
          Mark

  • Kuroji

    I think they should have figured out a way to make the hours wander around all the time.

    • SuperStrapper

      The Ludovic Ballouard (I’m certainly spelling that incorrectly) upside down watch immediately came to mind, and if the gearing here could do the same thing it would work nicely. Aside from the fact it would kinda be stealing that idea.

      • Kuroji

        No, on that one the hours are always in the same location. I want them constantly wandering around as the watch runs.

        • SuperStrapper

          Similar to an Edmond pole guardian? That displays the time in a traditional format, and then the 24 hour time is on ‘wandering’ discs.

          • Kuroji

            Hmm… no, that seems too much like a bad Urwerk knock-off.
            I like the
            idea of the wandering hours where they all rotate around the center, yet maintain their orientation. Maybe get rid of the sapphire gradient and
            have the hour indicated by having it rise to the 12 O’clock position.

  • BRIAN

    Are these real or computer generated? Couldn’t imagine if this is a real functioning piece there wouldn’t be a video to show off the very reason the article was written……to show how it works!!!

    • IG

      Most pictures are CAD renderings nowadays, having a proper photo shoot would eat into the profit of the poor little Swiss maisons…

    • Mark Schwarz

      Hi Brian, here`s the link to our youtube account on which you can find a video of the V1 in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0MOSzknHQA

  • IG

    Making a watch with a vault-like façade is soooo Swiss… Put a Milka-coloured NATO on it and you’re set.

    • Sheez Gagoo

      Milka is so German.

    • Mark Schwarz

      I`ll have a think about it 😉

  • Marius

    According to this article: “Vault has, now in 2017, released their fist product.”

    That’s fabulous, but where is the “product?” I wouldn’t describe these 3D renderings as a product.

    • Marius
      • Mark Schwarz

        Hi Marius, it`s Mark from VAULT. The fully functional prototype is currently in the making and will be presented at this years salon QP in London. That`s why I am running around with an Ipad 😉
        Cheers

        • Oh so there is going to be a Salon QP this year. Good news, the rumour was things were not heading in that direction…. So this is good news. Will see the watch there then.

          • Mark Schwarz

            Hi Santiago I haven’t heard anything else so let’s keep our fingers crossed 🙂 looking forward to seeing you in London

  • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

    ridiculous

    • Mark Schwarz

      Hi Boogur in a good or bad way?

      • The Deplorable Boogur T. Wang

        Mr. Schwarz, in a ludicrous way. While this piece is, granted, a technological achievement, it is simply an exercise in ego.
        (all opinions are mine and no one elses – as far as I know)
        Honestly, it has all the makings of a exhibition piece for the showcase;and while that is somewhat honorable – really, who is going to wear something like this?
        It has zilch for legibility – “time at a glance?” No friggin way.
        Durability? – Nope.
        Serviceability? “It breaks and it’s your problem!”
        So, while to some it does speak to their desire for “furthering the envelope” – to many, if not most, it is ridiculous in the world we live in – The Real World.

        I wish you all well in the new year and hope you sell everything you make (I suspect you will) and am reminded of the words attributed to P.T. Barnum and also a line by Thomas Tusser,

        • Mark Schwarz

          Thx for posting your opinion and have a great weekend,

          Mark

  • Berndt Norten

    For a cool 50k I’ll take a Picasso sketch over a CAD rendering

    • Mark Schwarz

      Hi Berndt I would do exactly the same if we would be talking about the renderings… but trust me on this, the V1 is not just a new watch, but a new chapter in watchmaking. Have a great day:-)

      • Berndt Norten

        thanks for your note

  • Yanko

    Lock them all in vault and be done with it.

  • HectorAsuipe

    The minute hand is always in the same position over the gradient-shaded disc, yes?
    Kinda quirky and fun if you are the type who does not go for chirping birds or copulating couples on your wrist.

  • ??????

    Cool render is still a render. Vaultboy wants more.

    • Mark Schwarz

      Hi there. Believe me I’m very unpaciant so I want to see more as soon as possible 🙂 the whole team is working very hard on theBay V1 in order to get it finished for autumn.

  • Gary Aerne

    Not really getting this watch, looks more like a childs game.

    • Mark Schwarz

      Thx for your opinion, I invite you to check out our website vault.swiss to experience what we stand for and why our mechanical art operates as it does. Looking forward to your feedback.

  • Martin Cerny

    First of all, Mr. Strehler is a super horological engineer. Love the Papillon. Certainly the Vault watch (unlucky name – Vault = Fault), has some interesting and also unique technical features. And yes, it’s a rendering to check the market potential before heavy investments for production. Sure, marketing is necessary to bring the product to market eventually, but I would advise to be a bit more humble regarding the tone…. art…..new chapter in watch marketing, etc., in combination with the rendering not very convincing. Will be not easy to launch a collection in this difficult times. But wish them good luck. They need it.

    • Mark Schwarz

      Thanks for your comment. As with all in life, there are differing opinions. In the end we are all very passionate about watches so I reckon that’s the main thing
      🙂
      have a great weekend

  • Mike Potts

    Pulled in 2 directions; can’t decide if it’s ugly or strangely beautiful! I think I like it!!

    • Mark Schwarz

      thx Mike, have a great weekend. And if you still like it on Monday, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter on vault.swiss 🙂
      cheers

  • Dénes Albert

    I would love to see images of the case side and back. From these pictures, I like the case, crown, minute hand, hour fonts and strap design. The open-worked mechanism’s steampunk theme blends surprsingly well with an otherwise modern design and the multitude of gear wheels add a floral overtone, without excessive femininity. I suspect that – as with anything mechanical – the probability of failure increases exponentially with the number of additional moving components. For this reason and the relative difficulty of actually reading the time I wouldn’t call this an everyday watch. But this being a tour de force of fine engineering I suppose that isn’t the point either. Putting the make/model designation on the lower side of the case is another nice touch – you get the relevant information without interfering with the design or functionality of the dial itself.

    • Mark Schwarz

      Hi Dénes, happy to provide you some images, just send me a mail at mark.schwarz@vault.swiss
      Best wishes
      Mark

  • resonator resonator

    I wonder if the seller would consider offering one in a fully disassembled DIY kit?

  • Ranchracer

    I’m not normally a fan of the big, wild, massively over-priced look-at-me pieces (Richard Mille and Hublot come to mind), but this one I like. If they could bring it to market for 1/3 the cost I’d be interested. Never gonna happen!