Once I first began working for Arcanaut, it will be truthful to say I didn’t know what I used to be getting myself into. I’d found the model whereas working primarily as a journalist and was fascinated by the ascetic Scandinavian case design, the dedication to home manufacturing the place attainable, and the seemingly boundless power of each co-founder and Chief Designer Anders Brandt, and co-owner and Chief of Supplies Growth, James “Black Badger” Thompson for pushing watchmaking in instructions nobody requested them to, as a result of nobody was actually positive the route they have been pushing was someplace watchmaking was even capable of go.
However that was the great thing about it. There was one thing there I hadn’t seen in a very long time. There was no cynicism, no behind-the-scenes strategizing, no calculated commercially minded assortment rushed out to capitalize on a development or fad. As a substitute, there was an exquisite naivety to proceedings. It was one thing particular. One thing that wanted defending from the cutthroat, dog-eat-dog, conglomerate-controlled trade. And when the fellows requested me to come back on board, I knew that may be no less than a part of my position.
An introduction to the staff
Full disclosure if it isn’t obvious already: I nonetheless work with Arcanaut as the corporate’s Head of Model Growth. Though technically a self-employed watchmaking marketing consultant, Arcanaut is (and has been for over a yr) my main shopper. My roles with different manufacturers (that embody product improvement, retail technique, and communications) maintain me abreast of what’s occurring on the earth exterior the closed doorways of the Badger Den and afford me the welcome duty of drip-feeding the important takeaways to the staff. An excessive amount of data could possibly be damaging. An excessive amount of information, jading. What Anders and James do higher than I’ve seen nearly any duo accomplish, is create from beginning factors which are to this point off the sting of the recognized map, that they could as nicely be in Area.
As a seasoned trade veteran (or crusty previous hack, if you happen to favor), my job in these product improvement conferences is usually to watch and do my degree greatest to maintain my mouth shut till the time comes for a wild and wacky concept to obtain its ultimate coat of gloss that may make it in a roundabout way communicable to the broader world. The easiest instance of this got here with the creation of the Havender composite that’s being launched alongside its clean-dialed range-mate, the Klint.
We loved a really optimistic response to the D’Arc Matter Colours Collection and have been chewing over prospects for our subsequent composite. Gross sales of the distinctive Fordite items have been rolling in steadily so we had a little bit of respiratory room to get artistic. We talked about all of the various kinds of stones accessible to us and speculated on the colours we would be capable of obtain by crushing them and reconstituting them into millable blocks as we had executed with Swedish Slate to create the D’Arc Matter materials for which the model might be greatest recognized.
We mulled over limestone, sandstone, semi-precious stones, and extra, earlier than somebody raised the potential for shells. Fortunately, Gothenburg the place James Thompson and the Badger Den are based mostly is true on the coast, and so entry to seashells was not an enormous drawback. We rapidly positioned a close-by mussel farm and gave them a name.
In fact, after we started our journey to gather the ten kilos of empty blue mussel shells provided to us, we’d hoped to derive a blue-colored composite from them. We’d additionally hoped it will be straightforward. Neither of which turned out to be the case.
Not too long ago, we recorded a video of James explaining the whole course of of making the Havender composite. It’s an illuminating watch and handily condenses weeks of painstaking analysis into the fabric we’d determined to make use of earlier than realizing how a lot of a headache utilizing it will trigger.
Firstly, mussel shells don’t come out of the ocean able to be changed into luxurious watch dials. The truth is, after we first received our arms on them, they couldn’t have regarded farther from the refined, uniform materials into which they have been in the end reworked. Lots of preparation wanted to be executed. And quite a lot of these steps have been solely found after a prolonged trial-and-error course of.
When alive, blue mussel shells are lined with a black membrane referred to as the periostracum membrane. By the point they attain us, the membrane has hardened to a brown, rock-like substance that have to be eliminated earlier than the shell will be cleaned and the pigment harvesting begins.
As soon as this outer layer has been chipped/filed/exorcized away, the shell will be cleaned in a particular resolution after which dried to deliver out its true colour. Following that, the pigment will be floor away utilizing a hand-held Dremel sander to take away the powder and a small, desk-top vacuum to suck it up earlier than it escapes into the air round us.
Just one a part of the mussel shell comprises ample and usable pigment. The bottom, or “knuckle” of the shell is bone-like and breaks away in jagged chunks that don’t need to turn into a powder of uniform particle dimension. This space of the shell is due to this fact ignored. The tip of the shell is wafer-thin and shatters extra like glass, which leads to wonderful, fibrous shards that may distract the attention when combined collectively in a composite. The center “Goldilocks” layer, nevertheless, is good. From right here a wonderful, uniform powder will be obtained. It’s a time-consuming course of, with every dial requiring a number of kilos of shells and hours of grinding to yield sufficient powder, however it’s rewarding.
In the meantime, the Klint is a far easier course of. The true work right here went into discovering a pulverizable materials that may stay white sufficient when combined with the mandatory binding agent to create the millable block we have to create the dials. It took weeks. We tried all the pieces white or whitish that we might lay our arms on. Nothing labored. Every little thing got here out murky, brown, or, at greatest, creamy. After which we stumbled throughout the foundation of all paint — titanium dioxide.
This wonderful white powder (whereas not one thing you need in your suitcase whereas crossing borders) was a godsend. Not solely is it extraordinarily wonderful, however it additionally retains its piercing white daytime hue when combined with our UV-resistant, ultra-clear resin. Like all of our composites, it has a texture and a depth of colour that may solely be achieved by milling dials out of stable supplies, reasonably than portray or surface-treating base metals.
Each watches are available in Arcanaut’s signature 40.52 mm case, which is machined in Copenhagen and is waterproof to 100 meters. The laser-cut stainless-steel arms are additionally made in Denmark. The dial supplies are created in Sweden after which machined in Denmark. Our actions (Soprod A10 automatics) are Swiss-made, and our proprietary straps are made by our trusted manufacturing companions in Hong Kong. Our aim is to deliver as a lot of the manufacturing as we will to Danish shores. Hopefully, the Havender (restricted to 33 items) and the Klint (restricted to 25 items in 2023) would be the subsequent step towards that aim.
Arcanaut Arc II — Havender and Klint fashions
Motion: Soprod A10
Capabilities: Hours and minutes
Case: 40.52 mm stainless-steel case, machined in Copenhagen, and water-proof to 100 m
Dial: Havender: purple mussel shell-derived composite; Klint: titanium dioxide composite
Strap: Proprietary rubber strap in a selection of eight colours (black, white, crimson, brown, inexperienced, orange, gentle blue, and darkish blue)
Value: USD 3,950 excluding taxes
Availability: Out there from November thirtieth, 7 PM. The Havender is proscribed to 33 items worldwide; the Klint is proscribed to 25 items in 2023.