If you haven’t yet realized it, the allure of independent watch makers is the watch maker themselves. If the same watches came from large established brands – they would not have the same effect. Some of the watches might actually sell better if they came from the larger brands, but they would not be as memorable and our emotional connection to them would not be as great. The allure of the little guy (or gal) is as much in their personality as it is in their craft.
This time around the indy watch maker du jour is unique due to talent as well as the fact that it is a woman. Female watch makers are rare. That doesn’t mean that female watch workers are (you’ll learn that they are quite common if you visit any watch manufacture), but the ones who make their own pieces entirely are.
At Basel 2011 while strolling through the AHCI area (where many of the indy watch makers display) I met watch maker Eva Leube and checked out her new piece called the Ari watch. The name was minorly ironic because she named it after her son named “Ari,” and sometimes people call me “Ari” (although technically it isn’t actually short for Ariel).
Eva was soft spoken, but confident. Of German descent, she now lives in Sydney Australia. A job with Rolex Australia took her down under a few years ago it seems. Though she is a Swiss trained watch maker. It does seem to be the case that many such souls work for larger brands before spilling off on their own. One personality trait that seems to be common to all of them is the ability to be self-motivated, and be able to manage themselves. What many people don’t know is just how much work it can take to release and industrialize just one watch – and that is before important aspects of a business such as marketing, sales, and customer service. Running and starting a small watch brand is not easy.
The Ari watch is a women’s piece, though it is a larger piece. It is more long and skinny on the wrist actually. The manually would movement created by Eva Leube is like a stretched pocket watch movement with a large single mainspring barrel and a large escapement that runs at 18,000 bph. Like the case, the movement is steeply curved to create an arch. In the middle is the display for the time, topped by a subsidiary seconds hand. At the top is the balance spring. For comfort and symmetry, the crown is located at the bottom of the watch. You’ll also find a metal crown guard as part of the strap. The design and layout of the dial is very satisfying – though the inclusion of a power reserve indicator would have really be the icing on the cake.
I really do enjoy the design of the movement. It is very classic in form and execution with an emphasis on aesthetic and traditional decoration. On the mainspring barrel you’ll find a hand-engraved “Eva Leube” logo. The question comes up for me “is it a woman’s watch or a men’s watch?” I don’t actually know if it is either. I am inclined to place it in the “unisex” category – a category I dislike. There are three types of watches out there in my opinion. Men’s watch, women’s watches, and men’s watches that a woman would be happy to wear. Though on occasion I have discovered a fourth category which is the always amusing “women’s watch that certain men will wear.” In which does the Ari fall in to?
The case is available in 18k gold (various gold colors available) or platinum and is 52.44mm long by 21.6mm wide. In addition, the dial/movement is done in matching gold or platinum. This is narrow for a men’s watch, but makes up for it in length. The design of the movement and dial is more or less masculine in my mind. The attached galuchat strap? In this case it is pretty feminine. Strap on a black alligator strap and you pretty much have a men’s piece. A men’s piece that women can feel more than comfy wearing. In fact, according to Eva Luebe, all Ari watches will come with a custom made strap depending on what the client watches.
The curved case style is meant fit over one’s wrist nicely. It is also considered a technical difficulty to design a movement that is wrapped in this manner. I haven’t put the watch on my wrist yet, but it looks comfortable and like a very cool bracelet. Reading it is simple and the large exposed balance wheel is a treat to watch. On the front and sides of the watch are sapphire crystals for a series of really clear views in to the movement. Finishing and decor is rather nice and the overall concept seems satisfying.
Unlike a lot of other independent watch maker around, Eva Leube’s first offering is not a spectacle of high-complications and elaborately unorthodox design. Instead, she offers an almost sober timepiece with some unique elements that is sure to be appealing. I look forward to learning more about Eva, and seeing her future work. Much of the watch is customizable depending on the customer. This includes the strap, aspects of the decoration, and the material. Price is 76,000 Euros in 18k yellow or rose gold, 78,000 euros in 18k white gold, and 93,000 euros in platinum.
Tech specs from Eva Leube: Ari Watch
Case and Dials
Case: Available in 18k gold or platinum 950. Crown and buckle in metal to match case
Dials: Both dials in 18k gold
Crystals: Three anti-reflection sapphire crystals (top and both sides)
Crown: Screwed locking crown
Bracelet: Leather bracelet custom-made to client’s specifications
Engraving: Case/movement hand-engraved by master engraver John W. Thompson
Dimensions: 52.44mm x 21.6mm x 8.45mm (height)
Balance: Free sprung balance with regulating screws
Balance frequency: 18,000 vph/2.5 Hz
Balance diameter: 15mm
Power reserve: 40 hrs
Number of jewels: 18
Number of components: 209
Chatons: 18k gold
Gear train: Highly-modified gear train from a Record 302 calibre
Finishing: Main plate and bridges in rhodium-plated brass, ratchet wheel hand-engraved ‘Eva Leube’