The Open Gear ReSec Black Ice is a modern mechanical timepiece with influences from historical watchmaking as well as frozen lakes and heavy metal. It is also a reminder that black can have a near-infinite number of shades, depending on surface, texture and materials.
Let’s start with the base of the hybrid dial: reminiscent of the first ice on a frozen lake or coarse, glittering, black sand. But despite these natural aesthetics, it takes heavy metal industrial operations to achieve the effect – a complex process involving structure-cutting laser beams and a heavy pressure stamping procedure before the solid metal is dunked into a galvanic bath, which gives it its final pearly lustre. Says Chronoswiss designer Maik Panziera: “This watch is like fifty shades of black, and the different blacks really contrast each other thanks to the different structures, finishes and coatings.
Some surfaces are much darker than others; despite the monochrome palette they almost appear like different colours.” Some of the strongest optical effects come from DLC coating, which is used both on the 44-millimetre case and the polished screws securing the bridges. The bridge holding the 30-second retrograde function – a modern version of a 17th-century invention – is sandblasted with a black galvanisation. The see-through back sapphire gives a view of the automatic C.301 movement with 42 hours of power reserve and stop seconds. The rotor is galvanised black, skeletonised and adorned with côtes de Genève. “When I was designing this watch, I was listening to heavy metal all day long, especially the Black Ice album by AC/DC. That’s where the model name comes from,” laughs Panziera.
The C.301 movement is a serious rebuild of a classical movement. As on all Chronoswiss Open Gear regulators, the dial is a hybrid, also serving as a module plate holding the bridges, screws, wheels and jewels – an elaborate 42-part construction on two levels. The upper level features screwed-on skeletonised train wheel bridges and a funnel-like hour display. “And the Open Gear concept shows the wheels running the hour hand. It’s the Crazy Train of the regulator hour,” muses Panziera, referring to the Ozzy Osbourne tune.
Circumnavigating the sparkly dial, the central minute hand is icicle shaped – a unique Chronoswiss design called Trigono. All three hands are polished and lacquered grey, filled in with Super-LumiNova. The same luminous substance is used for the solid pillars that serve as five-minute indexes. With this strontium-aluminate-based material the more the merrier, and this solution provides good legibility through the night. Compared with other Open Gear models, the Super-LumiNova here is a whiter shade of pale with only a touch of blue in it – if you have ever been inside a glistening glacier cave, you know the hue.
This will be the first time a Chronoswiss timepiece will be presented on a stable hand-stitched neoprene band with a leather base. It is securely fastened to the curved lugs with the patented Autobloc system, which makes it nearly impossible for the screws to come out on their own. And to further comply with modern standards the water resistance is 10 bar. “The new band is very comfortable to wear – and the appearance of the neoprene complements the matt, sandblasted case. Overall, the modern mechanical Open Gear Black Ice makes a stealthy impression – calm and understated,” says Panziera.