FIFTEEN years ago, I really believed that the strides being made in CAD and CAM would result in an on-demand future rapidly prototyped into physical being. A future where designers would be king and a lot of products would be produced and assembled locally leading to a new wave of industrial revolution and infinite customization.

And while on-demand is not as pervasive as i thought it would be, companies like rvndsgn are halfway there. Industrial designer Zach Raven began his project to create the world’s first rapidly prototyped timepiece with the help of a Kickstarter campaign to finance his initial pieces. It has been less than a year since he kicked off his campaign and he is already taking orders.

rvndsgn utilizes Selective Laser Sintering to create their cases; they are literally printed and built layer upon layer. Stainless steel powder is converted into solid cross-sections by a CO2 laser until a solid, three dimensional case is formed. Bronze is infused into the steel to replace the binder used in the printing process. It is nickel free so the finished product is allergy free. Final finishing occurs by tumbling the cases in husks to remove any sharp edges leaving a grain pattern behind that is unique to each piece as a result of the sintering process. It makes for a look that strikes me as organic; almost like the hives built by paper wasps. As a fan of the Japanese Mokume technique and the classic, organic designs of Isamu Noguchi, I find it aesthetically appealing.

The cases are manufactured in The Netherlands and measure a modest 40mm across. In these austere times this is a nice break from the pie plate sized watches that some brands would have you believe are the new normal. Any color finishes are applied over the stainless by the same company that creates the cases.

The dial is created in New York using a similar rapid prototyping method but materials are nylon and acrylic. The movement holder is incorporated into the face creating a single piece design.

Final assembly takes place in Grand Rapids, Michigan on a made to order basis. Delivery can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks on US orders.

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The bands and buckles are sourced from Italy and are a single piece, in form very similar to the G10 style. They pass through the case and could easily be replaced with a 20mm NATO or Zulu.

THE only downside to me is that it has a quartz movement – the Swiss Ronda 513. I prefer automatics. While Mr. Raven doesn’t have plans for an auto, he has assured me that he does have plans for additional styles that could accommodate an automatic movement. This illustrates one of the unique aspects of his method: there is no tooling to change. He just alters the measurements in the CAD file and produces it.

Mr. Raven is also looking to leverage his product toward a greater good:

I’m looking into doing a limited edition with a partnership with a large charity with the profits going to them.

rvndsgn started accepting orders as of last Friday with the exception of the all black and all white pieces. They are priced at $275 and shipping on both domestic and international orders is included in the price.

For more information, check out the rvndsgn website: http://rvndsgn.com/RVNDSGN/Home.html

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Routes: McClay to Foster

December 30, 2010

FROM 844, I’d usually take McClay as my jump off point. This road starts as a steady, 45 degree drop, a small trailer park on your right and a water hauling service headquarters opposite. The grade makes an abrupt change as it leveled of and cut through a wide soggy bottom bowl of stream and fields, seemingly similar to the arch-typical sterilized country scene that you’d expect to be hung between the large wooden spoon and fork in one of the trailers now behind you.

You’ll notice a marked increase in ascent wherein you pass an actual farm and a scattering of houses. There is a lot of road kill in these tighter bends as they get tighter and more frequent. I’ve killed here.

Before you lies “Big Bend” which has thrown many drivers into it’s bank of shared and soldiered yards or to the left over it’s steep side. And yet more of a climb that rewards you with a 90% recursive bend that seems as tight as it is steep; the loose gravel at the top thrown out as you bear right powering onto South Hewitt Avenue.

SOUTH Hewitt is uneventful until it becomes Rural Valley Road. Visible ahead is North Buffalo Presbyterian. It sits at the end of a huge farm field with nothing around it. On a clear Moonless night you’re just high enough to afford an unobstructed view of the north, east and southern sky. One can enjoy the parking lot and field. There is also an outdoor chapel and small attached cemetery that’s worth wandering through.

ONWARD to Taylorstown famous for having the KKK march through it back in the mid 90s.

Anything but divers

March 16, 2010

I wrote this blog while waiting in my office lot for the column of stopped traffic to slowly move and disappear over the horizon. I had about half an hour to kill and I’d been going crazy, jonezing for a watch. I ended up at my TJ Maxx presented with three choices: a Rotary Chrono with a rotating bezel in a dive configuration with a pressed steel sing deployent and a face marked “A Swiss Institution”; a Victorinox chrono with a high set polished thin bezel devoid of markings, three different rings and a dual deployent and finally a Zodiac chrono with silver face, hidden pushers and scissors deployent…

IT’S been over a year since I bought a Zodiac Air Dragon Chronograph. This watch grabbed me because of the $90 price tag and my experience with 4 other Zodiac models.

Since I was but a boy leaning to haggle with flea creeps and people who equate age with value, I’ve always sought the “Deal”. But with the simultaneous rise of fashion brands relative to their quality, the deals, real deals on quality Swiss made pieces are far and few between. Today we see both the Grandfather of faux provenance along side the fashion brands, both, for the most part, Million Smart clones that differ only in the European name on the dial. Their Côtes de Genève pressed and not engine turned into the bridges of Chinese dials. If there is any Swiss today, it’s 40mm which I’m even guilty of abandoning.

I guess there are always dive watches.

Jesus Christ, it’s all there are! From eBay to forums, ShopNBC to TJ Maxx the story is the same. Desk Divers. How many ways can it be done? Big markers, distinct hands and a rotating bezel. Variety comes in the form of Invicta’s appropriated Soviet divers. I’m over all of it. I’ve embraced 44mm watches but i refuse to wear a saucer nearly as big as something on my arm that Flavor Flav had strung around his neck 25 years ago. With the exception of a handful of models, most of these oversized pieces look almost as if they are a parody of themselves. I’m thinking of the Invicta Venom and the CX Swiss Military Watch rated to 20,000 Feet. Come on – the deepest I go is 12 feet in the pit of my pool. I don’t need a watch that is an inch high of my wrist. I don’t crave attention and can accept my insignificance. Absurdity is the new Rock n’ Roll in horology. Who’d a thought people would embrace something like the Invicta combat (I.E. All Black) editions of established models; “sport” watch sans lume.

Will we ever again see aviator watches with slide rule bezels? How about Max Bill style minimalist dials that Nomos once resurrected? I can appreciate what both Invicta and Croton are doing with the vintage, minimalist dials and case designs, but I’d buy if they took this design nod seriously.

Anything but divers…

ON December 7, 2009, Android Watches got a shot in primetime with Tim Temple hosting. It has been awhile since I had caught a Temple show, but it’s obvious that the old Tim is back. He is clearly comfortable and assertive without the stumbling and jibber jabbering of past presentations.

Android has improved both their designs and quality over the last few years. Where some of the older designs bordered on tacky and were just too much and too small (most around 38mm), Wing Liang, the owner and designer of Android, has managed to strike a balance between being over the top and maintaining wearability. The quality of materials and finishing at these sub $100 priced pieces is pretty astounding. One can clearly see that Android is becoming a serious challenge to both Croton (who has also stepped up their game) and SWI. If these trends continue at Android, Invicta should also take notice.

As is typical of the host tit-for-tat, I detected a couple of veiled swipes at everyone’s favorite dead man walking, In Cognito, er, Jim Skelton, including Tim’s knock on the cliché host practice of telling the audience to “buy one in every dial” as well as a mention of the “largest watch show for the past 5 years” and no mention of Skelton.

Is it telling that Temple hosted Android’s first primetime appearance or just a coincidence?

Like a Reese Cup of feces, The Guy Fieri of homeshopping tv provided a sneak peak of Ed Hardy watches on ShopNBC last night. This begs the question: what the hell are the buyers thinking?

To listen to Babe the Blue Skelton, you’d think that Ed Hardy is the height of fashion and in demand. Which flys in the face of reality – just take a walk around your local TJ Maxx and see the racks upon racks of unsold wack.

The only person I ever see wearing this shit is Jon Gosslin and I’d hardly consider him the arbiter of cool.

The watches are as awful as the t-shirts, hoodies, remote control helicopters, dildos, tampons and hand sanitizer. They exude cheapness which is evident when you examine them in the jewelry case at TJ Maxx where they are priced between $50.00 and $99.00. Compare this to the SNBC prices well north of $100.

This sales move is faintly reminiscent of ShopNBCs attempt at selling Seiko a few dollars less than retail. I can remember Babe fondling the legendary Orange Monster for nearly twice what they were going for on the sales forum of any given messageboard.

Seiko had a handful of dedicated shows and I cannot tell you the last time I remember seeing any Seiko product for sale. One can only hope that Ed Hardy watches are around for even a shorter amount of time.

I do admit that Skelton selling this crap is a perfect fit. He’s a cornball and I could see him wearing these horrible designs. That’s synergy!

Jim Skelton has Comcast!

November 3, 2009

SO where are all of the naysayers? If you’re a viewer of the watch shows on ShopNBC, it’s clear that something is going on with the hosts.

As I’ve stated in previous blogs, I believe that all signs point to Jim Skelton being replaced by Tim Temple. Initially, I based this assumption on my observations, that include “>financial, conflicts of interest and liability. Mr. Skelton personally posted a response, which didn’t refute what my thoughts were, but were ambiguous enough to add more fuel to the fire. For this, I had a bunch of fucking idiots attack me who are loosely associated with Mr. Skelton through a website that he partially owns, watchgeeks.net.

I knew my hunch was right.

Mr.Skelton has stated that he has a new contract. I don’t doubt it. But I’m also knowledgable enough to understand that it doesn’t follow he’ll be appearing on TV. I think he’s gagged and this is to ease the transition back to Tim Temple. I’m not sure exactly when he’ll be transitioned of the air and on to some “special assignment” that he can’t discuss. Initially, I thought by the end of the year. But after the Internet jihad of Skelton’s JiHomos, I think that date is sometime in April of next year. The visceral, overwhelming response suggests that Skelton needs to ease his fanboys into the transition. And it’s not going to be so smooth since I appear to have blown the lid off of it.

This is where it gets interesting; as well as equal parts sad, pathetic and funny.

The blog that kicked of the hailstorm, Jim Skelton out at ShopNBC?, still gets a lot of traffic daily as people search for information on the troubled ship of trade. On November 1, 2009, I received a comment that was awaiting my approval.

“Wow, that’s rich. So you know so much that Jim will be canned by January (but luckily you gave yourself an out by saying they will stretch it out, now you can’t be wrong for at least 6 months), and your influence is so strong that because of your little blog, Tim Temple was forced to join Watch Geeks.

Wow.”

It was authored by In Cognito who didn’t even bother with a fake email address; the only identifiable information for this comment was the IP.

Research revealed that it originated from a Comcast line in Eden Prairie, Minnesota which also is the home of ShopNBC. I didn’t think much more of it – suspecting that it was the Man or an associate. I replied directly.

Hell, aren’t you proving that this thing does have legs and a reach if you’re coming back in ‘stealth’ mode, Mr. In Cognito?

That was until today.

When I clicked on the IP of that comment accidentally, I was served up with both comments that originated from this IP. I’ll give you three guesses who the second author was and the first two don’t count.

I always took you as corny but amiable, with your love for chunky jewelry, giant cuff links, garish colors and faux hipster glasses – but you’re ‘that’ guy too? I mean, you could have sent me an email and discussed this; I know you’ve been on my Abaut page a million times. Honestly, if you would have just dropped me a line and asked me to chill, I probably would have. I don’t have a horse in your race with Tim Temple. Like I said, you’re both just guys that sell shit. But this greasy behavior suggests that your jihomo juggalo’s attacking in mass was not a fluke. I’m not saying that you were the fire starter, but I don’t think it’s a stretch to infer that you had knoweledge of it.

Next time, have the sense to do your posting from a different machine, dummy.


UPDATE 1/29/2010: https://betterskills.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/shopnbc-names-multichannel-bob-ayd-as-president || Is Skelton a Dead Man Walking?

SELF proclaimed ‘Watch Geeks’ seem to be the horological worlds equivalent of the guys that dress up in Harley clothes and play biker on the weekends. They make decisions based on consensus. These are clearly not my people.

FOR the past few days I have had a great time watching my stats pump and reading comments, with each funnier than the last. Not just because of the weak attempts at attack and humor, but because of the sheer zest and tenacity of a small group of people who seemingly have elevated Jim Skelton to a Messianic position; like Scientology but without the irony.

Tim Temple doesn’t like Jim Skelton. Sadly, I know this because I used to haunt watch forums. Do I believe everything written – no. You can’t see this? Tim is not member of the WG forums and he probably never will be. If you ask, “How do you know this?” then there isn’t enough time to explain it because you were not around so do some investigating of your own. Ask some of the old heads instead of running them off.

Tim Temple was asked back by senior management at SNBC. I don’t believe it’s because of the hours, but for the real reasons that I stated. Look at how you, his gay ass minions lash out at the mere mention of his name. SNBC want’s a host with this kind of baggage? ”

As to the question of competition: http://watchgeeks.net/forumdisplay.php?f=48 Who the fuck can’t see that these are all SNBC product?

http://watchgeeks.net/showthread.php?t=56212 Renato Vulcan SS for $300. SNBC priced at $469.00. This is simple economics; not CDSs or derivatives; if I can save $169.00 – ain’t I? And isn’t that $469.00 that SNBC is missing out on? Isn’t that the definition of competition?

But I know, this isn’t the norm – Android and Croton make a lot of pieces that appreciate in value. Oh no, there I go again, saying what’s a fact and being a cock for saying it. What do you guys think; I’m stupid? I have a whole stash of NIB Android Gen 1 pieces that I’m about to auction. That said, I do really like a few of the designs.

Some will accuse me of wasting my time for going through all of the trouble to get an example; these will be the same posters that asked for examples. You really can’t win with the stupid. No wonder America is so fucked – I think some of these people might be in charge of something.

As for my supposed hate of tattoos that some of you WatchGeek SS have harped on – tell me, have you ever had long, extended views of tattoos on the network? NO! because they want you’re Grandmother buying you a Russian Diver and she doesn’t like ink. Maybe one of you should PM Jim personally and ask him to wear a short sleeve shirt on his next show. I bet he doesn’t because THEY HAVE A POLICY AGAINST IT! I’m some how anti-tattoo because I point out their policy and Jim’s violation of it?!

And those god damned jeans that you’re all crying about. You nailed me – I’m a huge homo for Jim Skelton. I mean, being a homo, why wouldn’t I find him hot piece of ass? And if I was gay, you’d attack me for it? Whose “like Rush” now? And for the record, I did design a few pieces for the Pamela McCoy collection in my spare time and I did major in Internet Marketing Guru with a minor in Shopping Channel CEO leadership.

Realize, that as I write that, I don’t hate Jim Skelton. And I do not wish that he loses his job. But if he’s gone tomorrow,and it’s Daniel fucking Green sitting opposite Eyal barking – I’m watching it. And the silent majority of WG members will too. If you’d stop “being into watches” over it, what’s that say about you? Are you starting to awake from your 30 frame per second comma?

Go ahead, put the sunglasses on that Rowdy Roddy Piper is passing out.

As for Jim’s response: he signed a contract but read it for the legalize that it’s so cumbersome written in, “Just last week I was fortunate enough to have signed a new contract, so any rumors of my departure, are simply that… rumors. I would not be leaving on my own…” The last bit is telling, and again, I’m not sure how you people are missing it – there has to be some hardcore CSI watchers amongst you.

IF I am watching Jim sell watches on SNBC next year this time, fine. I’ll watch him. I just think I won’t be.*

*If SNBC makes you sign-up to the WG forums Tim to stop the boat from rocking, sorry in advance. But you did appear with Danny Blair so you’ve done worse for less. ;D