Inspired by science fiction, the latest Chronoswiss SkelTec collection is taking its open-worked horology into the dark. Matt black parts make an extremely reduced and see-through timepiece with a hand-wound 166-part movement housed in an organically shaped 51-part case.
“You are not afraid of the dark, are you?” laughs Chronoswiss designer Maik Panziera. For him the SkelTec collection is a modern mechanical canvas, and for the SkelTec Pitch Black he went deep into space and science fiction for inspiration. “This watch is really on the dark side,” he says of the new SkelTec model presented during Watches and Wonders 2021.
Let’s start by looking at some of the dark matter: The knurled bezel and onion crown, typical Chronoswiss design markers, are, as all 51 parts of the case, coated with black, diamond like carbon, DLC for short. “We wanted the case to have seamless organic shapes, like you often see on science fiction vessels. To achieve this was a challenge, because with watches it is not possible at the moment to injection mould stainless steel with haute horlogerie quality. Thus we had to combine different parts made with five-axis CNC machines,”
Panziera explains. Alongside the softly curved crown guard, the most eye-catching of the exterior parts are the sensually hollowed lugs. “Obviously the SkelTec is a contemporary interpretation of skeletonising, even though all the excess is taken away already on the drawing table. We wanted to also have this approach on the lugs – and it is a great challenge to design and manufacture these high-tech organic shapes even with the best of machines.” An added value for the lugs is that they use the patented Autobloc system for an extremely secure fixture of the band: a leather-lined textile strap with folding clasp, developed exclusively for the SkelTec collection.
Let’s dive deeper into the horology here. The minimalistic hand-wound C.304 movement operating at 28,800 vph was designed in the Lucerne atelier and is exclusively used for the SkelTec collection. The first thing you notice is the open screw balance at 6 o’clock, reminiscent of a black hole – just like no particles can escape from a black hole, your attention simply cannot escape this. “It is a fundamental principle of design. When you remove a lot of surrounding material, whatever remains takes on the leading role,” says Panziera. Just below the balance, and at 11 and 1, you will find the triangular bridges that anchor the fundamental parts of the movement, including the balance, the main spring and the halo-like minute ring with white numerals. The central, soot-black X-shape – achieved with a chrome coating – carries the white-lacquered hands filled in with black Super-LumiNova. The wheels are l covered with a dark grey rhodium coating and a circular grain, whereas other parts are sunray brushed.
At 45 millimetres the SkelTec Pitch Black is a substantial watch. Describes Panziera: “It is not for everyone perhaps, but thanks to its ergonomical fit and understated, dark appearance, it is really a watch that sits great on the wrist of any lover of modern mechanical, contemporary horology.”