This affordable collaboration watch is easy to miss but very fun and the product of some great teamwork. The parties include the newer French watch brand AWAKE as well as the famed French watch designer Alain Silberstein, who came together in order to recognize the 100th anniversary of the French scouting organization the Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs israélites de France (EEIF). The organization was founded in 1923, and Silberstein has been a part of it for half of that time, and for a long time has been managerially active in Jewish scouting organizations. I do not believe that this is his first watch honoring Eclaireuses et Eclaireurs israélites de France, but to my knowledge, there hasn’t been one in a long time. This watch is the Awake Alain Silberstein 100th Anniversary of the EEIF 42mm watch.
While most recent Silberstein watches are decidedly high-end, the longtime watch designer has a history of producing many mainstream-priced watches. Much of this was during the 1990s when there was more of a mainstream market for timepieces. Some of that market is coming back today, but there was a solid 25 years in the watch industry where sub-$1000 traditional watch sales declined. It is thus nice to see a modern watch that captures much of the spirit of fun and playfulness Silberstein’s earlier work exhibited. Silberstein does not currently have his own brand but rather mainly works with other brands as a collaborator. More so than pretty much any of his contemporaries, Silberstein over the last several years has collaborated on a stunning array of mechanical objects at a range of price levels. This Awake Alain Silberstein watch is easily among the most affordable of them, priced at just over €200.
As it is a newer brand, there is less to say about Awake given its more limited history, but I like the energy behind the company and the creative spirit. If this collaboration watch is a sign of its values and future plans, then I think Awake should be a very important brand for enthusiasts to carefully follow over the next few years.
The core watch is meant to focus on issues that seem relevant today — namely environmental responsibility. To that end, the 42mm wide plastic case (11.9mm thick) is produced from Ocean Composite, which is a blend of recycled polymers such as fishing nets. More important is the attractive nature of the blue with lighter-blue speckled case material that feels like a plastic version of Aventurine. It is a lovely look and it is paired with a BioPoly strap, which is apparently another recycled plastic blend. The strap has a much better tactile experience than silicone, and it is only modestly stiffer than natural rubber. The dark blue colors are accented with a playful red anodized aluminum crown and matching strap buckle. The case is 11mm thick and water-resistant to 50 meters. Over the dial is an AR-coated sapphire crystal, which is excellent news at this modest price point. The watch is also quite light being just 29 grams. Even at 42mm wide, with the narrower lugs and tapering strap (along with light weight), this Awake Alain Silberstein 100th Anniversary of the EEIF watch wears on the smaller side.
Another cool feature that feeds into the eco-friendly story is the use of a solar-powered quartz movement. The watch uses a Japanese quartz movement produced by Miyota (owned by the Citizen Group and known for their Eco-Drive technology), which thankfully has enough torque to move some larger-sized hands. Citizen Group probably makes the best solar-powered movements in the world (a very small number of companies make this type of hardware at all), and I think it is a welcome feature to have in this watch that would have been just as desirable with a standard quartz movement that requires battery changes.
The dial of the Awake Alain Silberstein 100th Anniversary watch is pure Silberstein mixed with design elements to suggest the EEIF. His inspiration was a compass, which makes sense given that this watch is meant to honor a scouting organization. He placed two other important scouting symbols on the strap ends, including a tent and a hand in the form of a scout’s salute. The face design includes text from the organization printed on the inside of the crystal in both French and Hebrew as well as a number of organization icons and symbols. My favorite is the lion in the center of the watch dial printed on the sapphire crystal. It is a cropped section from the larger EEIF organization seal, but the character happens to represent my name — and until now I’ve never seen a watch that featured the character in my name. “Ariel” is a Hebrew contraction of the words for “lion” and “God.” In biblical stories, a lion was the protector of the deity or other representation of the Jewish religion such as the Torah. In essence, the character is a proud standing lion — and I don’t think I need to remark on the plethora of logos made over the years that feature a proud male lion.
There is little else on the market that is quite like this Awake Alain Silberstein 100th Anniversary of the EEIF 42mm wide watch. Even if you aren’t into scouting organizations or the EEIF, this is a cool watch with a fun story and a lot of inspired design elements. The price for the Awake Alain Silberstein 100th Anniversary of the EEIF watch is €220. Learn more at the Awake website.