The Caliper View watch was born out of an appreciation and fascination with machines. The design was largely influenced by mid-twentieth century technical instruments; the precision tools that scientists, engineers, and technicians relied on to get their work done before electronics became ubiquitous. We have a collection of these mid-century technical devices. We have precision laboratory scales, slide rules, steel drafting tools, and survey equipment, in addition to beautiful old cameras. These tools are heavily built and beautifully crafted. They have clear and simple numeric scales, and are fitted with indicators and markers designed to maximize legibility. These tools reflect a clean modernist aesthetic with no fuss or ornamentation. The geometry is comprised of circles and straight lines with few complex curves.
In the mid-seventies, the first miniature calculators were developed, rendering slide-rules and mechanical calculators redundant. Around the same time, the development of quartz watch movements brought the mechanical watch industry to its knees. Plastic rapidly replaced steel as a more cost-effective material, and soon, quality and durability were forgotten in favor of the cheap and semi-disposable.
Although the Caliper View is inspired by technology from the ’50s and ’60s, it does not look like a watch from that time. It’s a design that could only exist now. Our design reaches back for inspiration to create something new.
The design we developed is based on the visual and geometric language of technical tools. The watch is 38mm in diameter and 13mm thick, making it rather taller than the average watch. One reviewer likened the form to a vintage camera lens.
Caliper Timepieces takes its name from a particular tool: the Vernier Caliper. This deceptively simple tool embodies the ingenuity of mechanical design. The Vernier scale is an elegant solution to a mechanical problem, and allows for far more precise measurement than what is possible with a simple uniform scale. We also like the fact that caliper is a play on words of the horological use of the work caliber.
We’ve called this model the Caliper ‘View’ due to the transparent elements of the watch. In addition to sapphire glass on the front and back, the View has a glass watch face behind the hands. By adding printed elements to this surface, we’ve been able to float graphics over the movement. There are three face design versions. The first version incorporates callouts like a technical diagram that illustrates key elements of the movement. It’s subtle – something you discover as you look closely. The second face version is a screen of grey dots that partially conceals the movement. A third face option is clear glass that fully reveals the movement.
The design is intended to appear simple and minimalist at first but to reveal more complexity on closer inspection.To develop the specs for this timepiece, we focused on building the best watch possible that could be sold for under $400 US Dollars. The movement we settled on is the Japanese Miyota 82S0, an automatic movement with 21 jewels and 21,600 vibrations per hour. It has an ‘open heart’ in that the balance wheel is visible from the front. The metal has a nice patterned finish on the back and we were able to engrave the company name on the rotor. The movement has a clean and purposeful finish without decoration, which is in line with our aesthetic for this design.
The case and glass are robust. We’ve used 316L stainless steel and sapphire glass. The watch is built to be water resistant to 10 ATM. It’s not a dive watch but much tougher than the average. The Caliper View watch is a solid and well-made timepiece that offers very good value at our target price.
We are very happy with the result. The quality and finish is everything we had hoped for. We originally launched on Kickstarter and the comments and feedback we’ve received have been very positive. Watches are now available for a price of $375. calipertimepieces.com
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