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The Sólás Starlight Showcases A Micro-Rotor Movement, An Aventurine Dial, And An Accessible Price — A World’s First For A Microbrand
When a watch is born from pure passion, beautiful things happen. Such is the case with the Sólás Starlight, brainchild of Irishman Diyu Wu. An avid watch enthusiast, Diyu wasn’t interested in re-hashing tried and true designs with Sólás; instead, Diyu wanted to embrace materials and technology employed in high-end watches, but do so at an accessible price. In the case of the Starlight, the goal was to combine the under-utilized micro-rotor automatic movement with a stunning aventurine dial.
Why a micro-rotor? Though classic automatic movements are practical and reliable, the rotor adds bulk and height to the movement and obscures the beauty of the finishing. By minimizing the size of the rotor and integrating it directly within the movement, micro-rotors retain the convenience of an automatic movement with the svelte dimensions of a hand-winding movement, all while placing the entire movement on proud display behind a sapphire caseback. For the Starlight, Sólás chose to employ a fully decorated Hangzhou 5000A automatic movement that beats at 28.8kbph, features 30 jewels, and boasts a 42-hour power reserve.
Micro-rotors were also a practical consideration. Aventurine dials are much thicker than standard printed dials, so the thin movement allowed Sólás to maintain a modest 9.7mm case height while using this stunning and lively dial. Produced by mixing minuscule particles of metal into molten glass, the end-product is a time-intensive piece of artisanship that sparkles like stars in a stygian winter sky. Atop the aventurine dial is a dressy mix of applied markers and high-polish Dauphine hands. The watch also features a seconds subdial at 7 o’clock and white-on-black date window at 3 o’clock as a subtle, practical touch. The Sólás Starlight comes in a 38mm stainless steel case with a sapphire crystal, elegant lines, and a signed crown. Keeping true to its Irish roots, Sólás offers the Starlight on a locally made strap from Turas leather and a custom deployant clasp.
The Sólás Starlight captures what can happen when imagination and ingenuity are set free — a simple and elegant dress watch that hides an explosion of light amid the inky surface of the dial and a unique movement to power the whole. Mark your calendar for September/October, when the Sólás Starlight is set to launch on Kickstarter with early bird prices starting at €349, a standard Kickstarter price of €399, and an ultimate retail price of €549. To back this project, visit Sólás’s Kickstarter page.
The Hervé Alvia – Classic Lines and Vintage Styling With a Modern Twist
Classic, timeless design resides at the core of Herve’s brand philosophy, an ethos that couples vintage styling with the best of modern materials and artisanship. Hervé’s debut release beautifully encapsulates this approach in the Alvia, a simple and elegant time-only watch that captures the heart of mid-century design in a thoroughly modern package. But classic design should be accessible, both in terms of style and price. The Alvia excels in both realms — an urban explorer that embraces both elegance and practicality and does so at an affordable price.
The Alvia features a 316L stainless steel case with a mix of brushed surfaces and smooth, elegant lines. With a case diameter of 38mm, height of 12mm, and lug-to-lug length of 47mm, the Alvia hits that sweet spot between comfort and wrist presence — a classic case and classic size. The watch features a domed, anti-reflective-coated sapphire crystal that mimics the warmth and vintage charm of acrylic crystals of the past, but with added strength and durability.
Beneath a sapphire display caseback beats the heart of the Alvia: the Seiko NH35A automatic movement. A tried-and-true movement, the NH35A features 24 jewels, hacking, and hand-winding, beats at 21.6kbph, and has a 41-hour power reserve. The Alvia is available in black onyx, Matisse blue, and slate grey. Each colorway features a sunburst dial that captures and reflects light in unexpected ways. The indices on the dial are 3-D printed to provide depth and the hour and minute hands are glossy black with ample BGW9 Super-LumiNova.
With a 20mm lug-width, the Alvia will shine on almost any strap, from a nylon NATO-style strap for a casual look to leather for a night on the town. The Alvia ships on supple calf-leather strap with a custom engraved buckle that provides a versatile look, whatever your adventure. Hervé’s goal with the Alvia was to create a future classic. Clean lines, beautiful proportions, and vintage styling coupled with modern craftsmanship ensure that the Alvia will retain its timeless elegance, whatever the future may bring. The Hervé Alvia is priced at $360 USD, and more information can be found on the brand’s website.
The Astronic STL-117 Tourbillon Channels Inspiration From The F-117 Stealth Bomber
It’s impossible to look at the iconic F-117 Nighthawk, better known as the Stealth Fighter, without a sense of awe at its unorthodox design that seems to defy both gravity and radar. The team at Astronic was directly inspired by the DARPA-developed F-117 when developing the STL-117 Tourbillon watch, but unlike the $111 million-dollar price tag on the Nighthawk, Astronic set out to make the STL-117 Tourbillon accessible and affordable.
Looking at the case of the watch, the sharp, angular lines, industrial bezel, and military-inspired colorways leave no doubt as to its inspiration. Coming in at 44.5mm of PVD-coated 316L stainless-steel, but with a modest case thickness of 13.7mm, the STL-117 Tourbillon is tough and aggressive but comfortable for all-day wear. Astronic rounds out the specs with 100m of water resistance, a sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating, and triple-layer IP plating on the case with colors and patterns exclusive to Astronic. The 3-D multi-layer dial channels design elements from the dashboard and exhaust system of the Nighthawk and mixes both luxury and functionality, with the tourbillon prominently featured at 6 o’clock and a power-reserve indicator at 12 o’clock.
Just as the Nighthawk was designed to defy the laws of gravity, with maximum speeds of over 623 mph (1003 km/h) and reaching heights of over 45,000 feet (14,000 m), the tourbillon was specifically designed to negate the effects of gravity on timekeeping. To do so, tourbillons place the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage, allowing the entire assembly to rotate slowly and average out positional errors. Unfortunately, tourbillons come with a cost and are almost exclusively found in watches costing in the tens to hundreds of thousands. Astronic brings a tourbillon to the masses with their in-house designed 3-D co-axial AST-01 Chinese-made flying tourbillon exclusively made for Astronic to showcase the tourbillon. The movement is hand-winding and has 19 jewels, beats at 21.6 kbph, and features a 42-hour power reserve with a stated accuracy of -10 to +20 sec/day.
The Astronic STL-117 Tourbillon is launching on Kickstarter in Fall 2020 with introductory prices of $1,260 on leather strap or $1,400 on bracelet (both feature a quick release spring bar system) and final retail prices of $1,800 and $2,000, respectively — a fraction of the >$100,000 you’d pay for a Hublot tourbillon. Watches will be available in red, yellow, rose gold, wave, and camouflage colorways with a variety of strap options. At the same time, Astronic will be launching the Aviate, an automatic skeleton dial watch starting at $420. For more information on Astronic watches, visit the brand’s website.
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