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Made in Switzerland and designed in Hong Kong, ZTAGE watches combine a striking modern design language with classic Old World artisanship to create one-of-a-kind timepieces. When embarking on a new watch design, ZTAGE embraces stories — whether of people, organizations, or the earth itself — to create watches with meaning and substance that go beyond simple aesthetics. For instance, after taking inspiration from the nature documentary Our Planet, ZTAGE partnered with the World Wildlife Fund to create watches that raised funds aimed at preserving threatened ecosystems. With its latest release, ZTAGE looks to the night sky, releasing the Hybrid Off-Ground Aurora GMT watch.

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As charged particles from the sun crash into earth’s atmosphere at the mind-boggling speed of 72 million kph, the particles get deflected towards the poles by earth’s magnetic field, transforming the night sky into a kaleidoscope of light. This phenomenon, termed aurora borealis by Galileo Galilei in 1619, has been a source of awe, inspiration, and trepidation since humans first saw these brilliant hues illuminating the night sky in the northern and southern reaches of the earth (in the south, they’re known as aurora australis). These lights have inspired stories from nearly every polar culture, from the Finnish revontulet or firefox that would run across the Arctic, sending sparks into the air as its tail swept across the snow to both the Inuit and Sámi who saw the lights as the souls of the dead. For anyone who has encountered this phenomenon, it’s no wonder that the aurora has captured the wonder and imagination of every culture that has witnessed them.

A quick glance at the ZTAGE Aurora, and its inspiration is clear, with the fully luminous green dial and bezel reminiscent of the dominant hue in the aurora set off against a black case and strap that mirrors the inky black depths of the night sky. And, since most of us must embark on a journey to reach the northern and southern reaches of the globe where this phenomenon can be viewed, it only made sense that ZTAGE would make the Aurora a GMT watch with 24 major cities from countries around the world featured on the dial.

For the dial on the Aurora, ZTAGE opted for a fully luminous sandwich dial with cutouts for the indices and date wheel. The result is a dial that is extremely legible, day or night. The handset then utilizes two different finishes — brushed for the hour, minutes, and seconds hand an black for the 24-hr GMT hand. This approach keeps legibility at a maximum and makes reading the 24-hr time, indicated along the rehaut, easy to read. Increasing the functionality is a world-time bezel, which allows you to easily track a third time zone.

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Besides being fully luminous, the bezel is also topped with sapphire, giving the cities a floating effect and adding an extra degree of dimensionality to the watch. Instead of a typical bezel, ZTAGE chose to create a crown-shaped bezel that gives the watch its unique silhouette and adds to the visual complexity of an already complicated case.

ZTAGE set out to create a case design that was visually striking and absolutely precise in its execution. This was no easy task and took two years of research and development to bring the concept to life. The 44mm case is created from nine separate components, each hand-polished over 30 steps. Though a time-consuming process, the result is a beautiful mix of satin and polished surfaces that speak for themselves. Those strong lines and angles are set off against an oversized crown that features a color-matched green inner ring, along with a luminous pip — minor features, but they illustrate the brand’s attention to detail.

The multi-piece construction of the case may not be immediately apparent, but a closer look reveals layer after layer, with lugs divided into separate components and inserted from both sides, securing into the mid-case. Though complex, this design opens up endless possibilities for future watches. Plus, with a solid 300m of water resistance, the Aurora is ready for anything.

Powering the watch is ZTAGE’s Cal. 1000, a modified Swiss-made Soprod C125 automatic movement. This is an increasingly popular movement that features 44 hours of power reserve that supports its hour, minutes, seconds, date, and GMT functions. However, ZTAGE takes things a step further. After assembly in Switzerland, the watches are sent back to Hong Kong where they’re adjusted for accuracy in five positions, then undergo a 240-hr final inspection.

The ZTAGE Aurora comes mounted to a double-layered FKM rubber strap with a color-matched deployant buckle. The ZTAGE Aurora is limited to 300 pieces, with only 100 pieces available for online orders. A 48-hr pre-order period will be open for the public between February 28, 2023, and March 2, 2023 (HKT 23:00; UTC +8), with a pre-order price of CHF 2990. For more information and to order the ZTAGE Hybrid Off-Ground Aurora, please visit the brand’s website.

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