December 16, 2016
by Ariel Adams
It takes a very special type of wrist watch lover and science fiction fan to even consider owning a close to $30,000 timepiece with “Star Wars” in the title. It takes an even more special individual to pull off wearing the Devon Star Wars watch. With that said, I think these types of people are increasingly common. Let’s take a good look at Devon’s Tread 1 Star Wars watch, but also talk about how science fiction themes will, in my opinion, continue to play a continually larger role in the luxury watch universe.
aBlogtoWatch debuted this limited edition of 500 pieces Devon Star Wars watch near the end of 2015 here as it was being launched in celebration of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens film. Today, Star Wars: Rogue One will hit North American theaters, with legions of still extremely enthusiastic fans. Almost 40 years after the original Star Wars film was released, the science fiction franchise now owned by Disney is among the most important and valuable entertainment properties in existence.
People who grew up with Star Wars experience the George Lucas-imagined science fiction universe as exactly that, a universe. It isn’t just about movies or toys, or clothing and videos games. It’s about heroes, good, evil, hope, and of course, fantasy. In many respects these rich and thoroughly developed story universes – no matter how made-up – can have extremely influential roles in people’s lives. It thus makes sense that when it comes to emotionally-charged items like high-end watches, Star Wars, like anything else that had a formative role in people’s upbringings, can serve as the basis for luxury products.
The phenomenon of luxury watches being influenced by science fiction themes is a topic that we have been exploring on aBlogtoWatch for years. That’s because watchmakers and designers raised with science fiction naturally implemented related aesthetic themes into their work. At first, such influences were subtle, and we saw generally “futuristic” watches. More recently, designers have been increasingly willing to overtly share those entertainment properties that influence their work. It’s not very surprising that watchmakers and other micro-engineers are into science fiction, now is it?
What keeps work like this alive isn’t just that watchmakers and designers are influenced by science fiction, but that their customers are as well. As I said above, people who grew up with Star Wars are reaching points in their life where luxury products are increasingly affordable. Moreover, many people like to surround themselves with high-quality reminders of the things they loved as youths. That’s the power of nostalgia, and as weird as this Devon Tread 1 Star Wars watch is, it serves as a perfect example of how to take something cool, coat it with nostalgia, and emotionally appeal to male consumers who never really stopped loving toys.
There is no shame in a love of toys, even as an adult. The best toys are meant to be played with, which is why so many people enjoy things like cars and watches. Not only can we appreciate their design and engineering, but we can also actually do something with them. The worst types of toys are those that look pretty and just sit on a shelf.
I say all this as a means of explaining why timepieces like this exist. Whether or not you like the design is beside the point – the Devon Tread 1, which the Star Wars watch is based on, was never meant to appeal to all audiences.
When Scott Devon originally decided to produce watches, he wanted to make something totally different – which usually means a bit wacky. When the Devon Tread 1 watch original debuted, it was highly controversial for reasons non-watch lovers might not even understand. No, it wasn’t the large size of the case, belt-indicated way of reading the time, or even the wild design which was the source of controversy. Rather it was the fact that instead of using all mechanical parts, the Devon Tread 1 watch used electronics. If there is anything that traditional watch lovers fear, it is batteries and electricity.
If you are going to go with a quartz-based electronic watch, I say find one that does something springs and gears cannot do by themselves. In my opinion, the Devon Tread 1 does this. It uses a series of small Japanese-made micro step motors to power an array of small belts that indicate the time through high-tech-looking window frames visible through the richly open dial. The look of the original Tread 1 has been modified for the Devon Star Wars model, but at its heart, it’s the same watch. Though, the Devon Star Wars model is a lot more expensive.
I was fortunate enough to debut the Devon Tread 1 watch to the world back in 2010 here. Later, in 2011, we published my full review of the Devon Tread 1 here. I advise you to reference those two articles to understand more about how this watch works, what it is made from, and what living with it is like. Given how different it is from traditional watches, it requires a bit of time to explain how to live with the Tread 1, and that isn’t a story I need to repeat here.
The Devon Star Wars also isn’t the first time Devon has played around with the Tread 1 theme. Still my favorite iteration of the model is the Devon Tread 1 Steampunk, which I reviewed here in 2012. Since then, the brand has been a bit quiet, with ups and downs – mostly given the fact that these watches are assembled in America, using a lot of parts produced in America as well. That’s actually very difficult to do, and I know the brand has had a series of false starts and setbacks given the complexity of making a luxury timepiece in the USA. One of the main reasons that so many luxury watches are made in Switzerland is because they maintain the infrastructure to do so.