October 28, 2022
It’s time to rethink Chinese watches. There is still a cloud that hangs over watches from China, a cloud of dismissive judgment that automatically assumes that if it’s (openly) made in China, it can’t be of any merit. The irony, of course, is that many of the high-end brands we hold dear outsource some or most of their manufacturing to the country. But more and more, Chinese brands are proving those assumptions wrong and demonstrating that the country has horological prowess beyond shadow manufacturing. In fact, brands like CIGA Design are winning awards–and not just participation ribbons. For the incredibly novel CIGA Design Blue Planet watch, the brand was the first Chinese winner of any award at the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève—the Oscars of the watch world—beating out the likes of Oris and Doxa to take home the Challenge Award in 2021. Inspired by our responsibility to preserve the world around us, the Blue Planet doesn’t just impress with its three-dimensional representation of our planet—it presents a new way of displaying the time.
The dial of the CIGA Design Blue Planet offers a display that is as artful as it is unique. Calling into question conventional time displays, the dial consists of a beautiful micro-engraved sculpture of the earth. The blue ocean features an almost lustrous hue, while the shining metallic landforms are instantly recognizable, with the Himalayas rising up off the disc. Just off the coast of Madagascar, a compass rose acts as the hour hand on the rotating Earth. Here’s where things go from visually engaging to horologically compelling. The dial features two additional rings, a rotating minute scale, and a static hour scale. The time display is described by CIGA Design as “non-synchronous tracking,” and it involves the compass rose not only pointing to the hour but also the minute. This is possible thanks to the movement’s modified gearing ratio, which sees the minute ring rotate an additional 30° each hour. Considering the dial alone, it’s no surprise that the CIGA Design Blue Planet won the GPHG Challenge Award. Even more impressive? In another unprecedented accomplishment for a Chinese watch, following a ceremony held on June 29, 2022, the Blue Planet was donated to the permanent collection of Geneva’s Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, to be put on display amid the museum’s other prized exhibits.
Not content simply calling it a day after creating a gorgeous dial with a novel time display, CIGA Design utilized a rarely seen case design as well. It’s a design that completes the watch’s cohesive look and contributed to the Blue Planet receiving 17 international design awards. Eschewing the traditional rounded case and protuberant lugs of most watch designs, the Blue Planet features an organic, sleek case that calls to mind the smoothness of a river stone. The 15mm-thick profile is maintained by a perfectly curved domed sapphire crystal, which adds subtle reflection and protects the dial, just like the Earth’s atmosphere. The quick-release fluorine rubber strap makes the case’s 46mmx46mm dimensions wear shockingly well, while the lugless design furthers the comfort by creating a much shorter effective lug-to-lug. The screw-down crown offers affords 30m of water resistance while offering superb grip and maintaining the smoothness of the case. The case is offered in stainless steel and titanium, which offers a warmer tone; both feature the same satin brushing and the steel is just 23g heavier than the titanium.
A new time display requires a new movement, and that’s just what CIGA Design has used in the Blue Planet. Collaborating with Chinese movement powerhouse Sea-Gull, CIGA Design has developed a 30-jewel automatic movement with a gear train that allows for the model’s display. The movement features a 40-hour power reserve, an accuracy of -15/+30 seconds per day, and perlage on the plates with a customized rotor with striping. It’s on display through a screw-down display caseback with text celebrating the Blue Planet’s 2021 GPHG win.
Of particular note is an upcoming special edition of the Blue Planet. On November 15, 2022, CIGA Design will release the Blue Planet x World Earth Day Special Edition, which doubles down on the brand’s environmental commitment. To create the non-limited watch, CIGA Design has teamed up with EarthDay.Org, the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 150,000 partners in over 192 countries to drive positive action for our planet. The titanium alloy case is constructed of recycled metal and the strap features a special design for the edition, with commemorative text and a reiteration of the dial’s globe. The watch is accompanied by a necklace with a matching globe pendant and for every sale, CIGA Design will be donating $30 to EarthDay.Org. Buyers will also have the opportunity to apply for a bronze-level EarthDay.Org membership.
We rarely encounter true novelty in watches these days. If we’re being honest, most things have been done, and done to death. So when a watch comes along that does offer something unique, it’s worth mentioning and checking out. The CIGA Design Blue Planet is one such watch that, driven by a desire to celebrate the earth, reminds us of our responsibility to the world around us. CIGA Design could have just printed a map on the dial, but instead built something new: a watch with an uncommon silhouette and a brilliant dial that challenges its wearer and those who see it to not only tell time differently but to experience the world in a new way. The CIGA Design Blue Planet is offered at $899 in steel and $1099 in titanium. Now, users can have a 20% discount from October 27 to October 31st for Pre-Black Friday, which is available directly from CIGA Design or may be purchased from Amazon, and comes in recycled, eco-friendly packaging. Therafter, aBlogtoWatch readers are invited to use the code “ABTW10” on the CIGA Design website and “10CIGADESIGN” on Amazon for 10% off their purchase from November 1st to November 17th. The Blue Planet X World Earth Day Special Edition is priced starting at $1200 USD and will be available November 15, 2022. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.
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