Our Kickstarter has launched and is already fully funded! We are now aiming for our stretch goals - visit here to see our campaign details:
Céad míle fáilte – a hundred thousand welcomes to my website. Below you will find the results of over almost two years of work in relation to creating a new Irish watch brand. I hope you enjoy reading about the journey I’ve taken to create the product I am looking to share with people. I look forward to any comments you may want to send me at the brand's Instagram account:
The Kickstarter project has launched! Please visit the site below to back the Starlight:
Setting up this Irish brand I wanted to insert Irish elements into a watch brand that people would be happy to own based on its:
3) overall feel and essence; and of course
4) value for money.
This brand was set up in 2019 after a year of research, design and prototyping with a number of candidate suppliers. As a watch brand that is proudly “designed in Ireland” (deartha in Éirinn) I wanted to create something that first and foremost stands on its own as a great watch to own and wear. My second goal, as Irish watches are not often seen in the horological world, was to add an Irish twist to the brand.
While it may not be possible to manufacture the watch itself here in Ireland, I have teamed up with an Irish leather craftsman to create a custom, hand-made Irish leather strap, using the best quality (full grain) leather sourced from the Horween leather factory in the US to ensure that every watch will contain a piece of work from Ireland.
The link to my Kickstarter campaign can be found here:
Sólás is Irish for “solace” – this name was chosen as this project began as a personal recovery from a period of illness in my family. The project allowed me to divert energies and put my focus into something that sought to bring comfort to myself and ultimately turned into an opportunity to share that energy and positivity with a wider audience of watch aficionados.
It is intentional that “solas” (without the Irish fadas) is also relevant to the brand and means “light” – you will find that the model name and future planned models all have a celestial theme to them. The first model which I am introducing below is the Sólás Starlight.
The Sólás Starlight is the first model that the brand is seeking crowdfunding for. The model name Starlight was chosen to reflect its special dial material. This model in its final form was arrived at after the creation and refinement of a number of prototypes over the course of more than a year of communications with a selection of factories.
I believe I’ve chosen elements that make this first model an elegant, understated but still exciting timepiece. To distinguish this model from the variety of automatic mechanical watches available on the market currently I have incorporated design elements and features that all together I am almost certain has not been available for purchase in any watch under $6,000 (though of course those watches come with Swiss brand cachet!). If you have $23,900 on hand to spend I might recommend trying the Parmigiani Tonda 1950 Galaxy as an alternative… Instead – my crowdfunding campaign will seek to make the watch available for €329 to €399 with a subsequent general retail price of €549.
The general specifications of the watch are as follows:
Why use micro-rotors? They are used primarily today to show off the beauty of the finishing on the movement without having a big rotor on top of the movement, blocking the view of the movement underneath, while keeping the benefit of not requiring manually winding a movement daily to keep it ticking.
So why doesn't everyone use it? There are technical hurdles to overcome as a result of making the rotor "micro" sized and building it into the movement rather than on top of it. As the rotor is shrunk in size compared to a standard rotor the winding mechanism must be highly efficient to ensure the watch stays wound.
For those who are interested in further information of the beauty and functionality of micro-rotors please check out this article which discusses them further:
The primary reason why the model was so named was due to this dial material. Aventurine is a material that can be either man-made or natural – in our case created in a kiln – that glistens with understated and subtle pinpoints of light. I first saw the material used “in the flesh” on a limited-edition Omega Speedmaster and fell in love with its dial.
Each aventurine dial is a unique as its owner - due to the way the material is made no two dials will be completely the same.
Aventurine dials are discussed in this article:
The watch itself is labelled all in Irish except for the English model name. For non-Irish speakers the text on the dial and caseback translates to:
In addition, triangular indices were chosen to give a subtle nod to the síneadh fadas (the ´ signs that are found above some vowels in the Irish language but not English).
The clasp I’ve chosen to use in the Starlight is a special type of deployant clasp. It is very similar to the type of clasp used by Omega for their straps. Just like with my movement choice I’ve tried to combine the best of both worlds – with this form of deployant you have the benefit of:
With this type of deployant it is important to take care when inserting the strap for the first time or adjusting its position, please fold the strap under the guide rails to ensure the strap remains unmarked and in good condition as seen in this guide video here:
I’ve opted for quick release springbars – these springbars are built into the leather strap and ensure the straps can be removed easily and without tools. Ask anyone who has struggled to change straps (whether to replace an old one or for a change of style) or stabbed themselves with a springbar removal tool and they will appreciate the simplicity and ease of a quick release spring bar.
How many watch straps do you know that can be removed one-handed without tools?
When I went ahead with launching this Irish brand, I wanted it to be as Irish as realistically possible. While the case and movement are made in cooperation with my Chinese partners I have managed to find an Irish craftsman who can supply made in Ireland by hand leather straps. The leather used is full grain (best quality leather) sourced from the Horween leather factory in the US. I love the fact that I can genuinely support an Irish indigenous industry when putting forward this Irish watch brand. In fact here is some information about my supplier in his own words:
Hello, I am Robin Marshall of Turas leather. I am a self taught leather-craftsman from the green hills of Wicklow, Ireland. My chosen vocation comes from a deep respect and appreciation of traditional craft in Ireland.
I started out with a one-day leather working course in Dublin a number of years ago and have been creating and designing various types of leather pieces ever since. I now make and design belts, wallets, purses, bracelets and watch straps to name but a few, with as little machinery as possible. I can keep the strength and unrivalled charm only true handmade leather goods can claim, with traditional hand saddle-stitching techniques that a machine cannot match in style and strength.
Now working from my workshop in Wicklow, I run an online shop and market stall. I only use high quality full grain leather from some of the finest tanneries around the world to create beautiful products that will last a lifetime and will gain character as they age alongside you.
I first fell in love with mechanical watches during my early twenties and slowly developed this love – first through expanding, then contracting and finally curating my modest collection of Swiss, Japanese, American, English, Russian, Soviet and Chinese watches. I’m country agnostic when it comes to watches and as long as a watch (within budget) presents something interesting, quirky or unique I am open to owning it.
I’ve nurtured this love both by tinkering with basic watch servicing/watchmaking and making DIY watch accessories (my pride and joy is my homemade water resistance tester – it’s why I am confident of swimming with my 3ATM Speedmaster which has its seals regularly tested).
As someone who has bought and sold multiple watches over the years it had been a personal goal of mine to own a modern affordable micro-rotor watch. After a number of years waiting for someone to bring out such a watch I decided to try and do it myself – after ending up with a design that I enjoyed personally I wished to share that design with others – and at an affordable price.
The reason the price is accessible is because this project has been a personal passion of mine as a watch-lover. I wish to share my love of interesting complications in watches with others. I have my day job still and therefore do not need this project to make enough money to put food on the table for my family. Therefore there is no need for me to make anything more than a very modest profit.
As for my personal background I am a naturalised Irish citizen and someone who has a close affinity with the Irish language and culture. In fact some Irish people may recognise me as the actor who played the character of Yu Ming in “Yu Ming is Ainm Dom” (my name is Yu Ming) – a tragicomedy Irish language short film about a Chinese national who emigrates to Ireland and learns to speak Gaeilge…better than the Irish themselves. If you have 13 minutes to spare I highly recommend checking out a copy of this short film on Youtube above.
As someone who is able to communicate both with my suppliers in their native language and is proud of his Irish upbringing and background I feel like I am in a special position to try and bring this Irish watch brand to fruition and hopefully to success.
I hope that after my explanation of why I feel the Sólás Starlight is worth your attention based on the design, features and its Irish background that you will join me to help kickstart this project when it launches on https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/solaswatches/solas-starlight-an-irish-affordable-micro-rotor-watch
Go raibh míle maith agat! That’s the Irish for a thousand thanks – literally “may you have a thousand good (things)”.
If you have any questions please send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org