The philosophy on which a (mechanical) watch is based is to be able to trap and measure the passage of time forever, without the device in question being a victim of the same technology with which it was built. Its components must not be excessively obsolete after a few years. Thanks to this spirit, today we can admire watches from 50-60-70 years ago that are still able to perform their function like the more recent models. Which we couldn't say about two phones or two PCs.

Innovating, therefore, in such a rigid world is by no means simple, but some shortcomings can be exploited to be able to find your own space and create your own market niche. The possibility of customize your watch, for example, it is something that the big brands are unlikely to give to their customers, but that a new Swiss high-end watchmaking brand is fully exploiting, making it its main strength: I'm talking about VAULT.

Vault is a brand born as a start-up in 2013 from the idea of ​​the current one CEO Mark Schwarz, a former Swiss policeman with finance studies and an MBA, and has his HQ in Zurich. The main philosophy behind his creations is based on the conception that it is time is the most precious and priceless asset we have, consequently the watch we wear on the wrist must both indicate and enclose time itself. That is why the design of the watch, as well as the name of the brand, is reminiscent of a safe. In the course of a few years it has been able to create a remarkable network of partners and suppliers capable of moving the bar higher and higher regarding what is possible to do in terms of customization on their watches.

Movement and dial

The movement fitted to these watches was developed by UhrTeil AG exclusively for Vault. It is an automatic caliber at 21 vibrations / hour (600Hz) with 50 hours of power reserve (55 with version V2 +), variable inertia balance wheel and various relief finishes ranging from sandblasting, brushing, rhodium plating.

The great peculiarity of this movement is that it rotates together with the dial when the watch is adjusted, symbolizing the impossibility of man having full control over time itself. The only hand present is that of the minutes while the hours are indicated by black gears that rotate under a sapphire crystal disc that has an opening to indicate the current time.

When time passes, the only rotating part is represented by the minute hand and the sapphire crystal disc, while when the clock is adjusted the hour gears also rotate with a speed of 1/12 compared to the minute hand. In this way it is possible to have a totally unique view of time that is different from clock to clock since each of them has a different position of the hour gears and of the movement. The total amount of components of this watch is 401 pieces while the dial alone boasts 133. The V1 + version has a visible caseback, from which you can admire the tungsten rotor bearing the brand logo.

Case and materials

The watch case has a shape tonneau, is machined from solid with dimensions of 46.7 x 39 x 15 mm (length, width, thickness) and is made of the most disparate materials. Initially born in steel, it was then evolved with the use of titanium and pink gold, to then arrive at the composite materials that are becoming increasingly popular in watchmaking. Thanks to a partnership with a Lithuanian company, it is now possible to have cases in carbon-titanium (CTi) and carbon-ceramic, materials never used before for watches. The latter can be customized as desired with truly remarkable and unique chromatic effects, since each block of material will be different from another by the nature of the production process.

Le hours required to work a single box easily reach 40 depending on the materials used and a long series of tests are performed to validate their use. The winding crown is also extremely refined and worked, has the brand logo milled and recalls the knob of a safe, while the screws fixing the movement to the case are made of titanium with a proprietary design that also recalls the logo of the brand.

Bespoke Watches

Inspired by the approach that Pagani Automobili has with its customers, Mark Schwarz has decided to treat its watches as if they were unique projects and developed entirely on the specifications of these customers. Given the wide range of customizations available (unique materials and never used before in watchmaking, straps, movement finishes, colors on the dial, etc.), the Vault team follows and helps the customer in the development of their watch according to their wishes and to his idea of ​​watchmaking, always pushing towards innovation and solutions or configurations not yet adopted.

The objects thus become unique and it almost makes no sense to speak of available “models”. Exactly as it happens for Richard Mille, then, once a watch has been purchased, the customer will become part of the Vault family and will contribute to the development of the watch itself, having all the support of the brand in case of defects or in case of further possible developments.

The message this watch wants to convey is to be an object that has a high intrinsic value for the owner, not in an absolute sense, and that it is unique in all respects. He must remember the experience of having been part of a team capable of creating a unique watch. It is a decidedly different level of luxury to what we are used to thinking, comparable only to rare editions of some watches created exclusively for a specific character.

As you can imagine, the cost associated with a Vault is extremely variable depending on the details and customizations you choose to apply, but I can tell you that for a version with a closed steel caseback it starts from 37'500 CHF. time of realization of the finished clock, on the other hand, is around 150 days.

Vault's target is to become the brand that creates the most customizable watch in the world. Will it be a success story? I don't have a crystal ball and I certainly can't tell you, but I would like to make you think using the words of a legend of watchmaking, Jean Claude Biver. According to Biver, to be successful, a product must have 3 characteristics: “First, Different, Unique”. I'd say Vault has all three of them - it's the first watch to be so customizable, it is different from all the others due to the time display and associated philosophy, it is unique by nature of the materials used and for the bespoke concept.

So, good luck Vault and good luck Mark Schwarz for your adventure!