About this project
The Calligraph Duneshore is the debut watch from Visitor Watch Co. You might have seen it mentioned in one of these publications:
And you may have heard journalists, ardent watch nerds, and regular folks saying things like:
“Kickstarter has provided fertile ground for watch projects, but only a few are really special. The Visitor project is one of them.” – The Time Bum
"You have just upped the game in the micro arena." - MACHENE.tech via Watchuseek
“It’s refreshing to see such an original design from a startup … especially in an industry where designs are recycled over and over…” – @joecarlucci via Instagram
There are some things which never seem to lose a semblance of magic, even after you have uncovered their nature. Most are phenomena of the natural world: a thunderstorm, an aurora, a solar eclipse. Few things of ‘magic’ are made by man. But those that are are treasured crafts.
To us, the mechanical timekeeper is one of these rare objects. Once an indispensable tool of navigation, this fascinating (and somewhat arcane) technology has persisted into the modern era, most commonly in the form of the wristwatch. Over their long history, mechanical timekeepers may have transitioned predominantly from tools toward personal emblems – small, wearable hints into the sensibilities of their wearers – yet that undercurrent of ‘magic’ has held true. Even today, turning over a mechanical watch to see all the tiny metal bits working in concert to measure time – without any aid from batteries or electricity – provokes a sense of wonder. For hundreds of years, it has been indefeasibly “cool.”
Which is of course why we chose to enter the mechanical watch business. These devices appeal to our love of elegant technology and material craftsmanship, our appreciation of the classics and of simpler times, our modern sense of style and artistry, and, perhaps most importantly, that sense of wonder.
Over the last year, we’ve dedicated ourselves to creating our first watch, the Calligraph Duneshore. Designs have been drawn, scrapped, redrawn, and finished. Suppliers have been sourced and tested. Prototypes have been made. But now comes a step we cannot complete without your assistance: orders must be placed. Specifically, 300 orders at minimum, which translates to a base funding goal of $85,000.
If you regularly follow watches launched through Kickstarter, you’ll no doubt recognize that base goal as higher than average, so let’s deal with any funding-shock upfront. There are two reasons why our goal is set where it is: the newness and complexity of our watch and the newness of our company.
The Duneshore is new. Like all new. The case, the dial, the hands, the date disk, the rotor, the strap, the buckle, and even the gosh darn tang is new. And all require new tooling. In addition, many of the components are quite complex. I mean, just take a second to ogle that case. Gorgeous? Yes. Easy to pull off? Not quite.
And that dial is not as simple as it may seem at first glance. It’s actually a sandwich dial, with cutouts for the minutes and applied indices for the hours, all of which are treated with luminant.
Early on, Visitor Watch Co. made the decision not to use stock components. Though they cost less and can be ordered in smaller quantities, they ultimately compromise vision – both of a watch’s design and of a brand's character. This company, after all, was founded as a means to create anew, not re-hash the existing and the past.
Then there is the newness of Visitor itself. Simply put, we’ve been running on savings for more than a year, and this Kickstarter campaign is like our coasting the minivan into the gas station. Yosemite is just a few miles off! But first we need to fuel up. Should we return to Kickstarter to launch future models (as several successful micro brands have), it will no doubt be with deeper product development wallets. But for this very first product, we need your full support.
Without further delay, then, let’s get in to exactly why you should support us. Just what exactly will you be getting?
From November 3rd until December 3rd, you have the opportunity to purchase a Duneshore in Beach, Blue Slate, or Forest Ore for $480 (Prelude pledge), $500 (Preface pledge), or $520 (Prequel pledge), meaning up to $170 off the regular $650 retail price. To save the most, we suggest backing early. Furthermore, if the campaign reaches its stretch goals, you’ll receive up to $100 in free watch straps. Finally, you also have the opportunity to purchase a hand-crafted, pinecone-bodied, fountain pen, with or without the watch.
Now, let’s go over the features of this watch and show you what makes it so unique:
A mechanical watch is a piece of functional art. Thus, we gave the Duneshore a highly legible dial for easy time-telling, a curved ergonomic back for wearing comfort, and a sculpted case with no shortage of visual dynamism. As the watch turns with your wrist, its appearance changes – no two orientations look the same.
LIGHT AND SHAPE
Most watches can be easily classified as round, rectangular, or cushion-cased. But the Duneshore is not so easy to label. A cylindrical casing emerges from the hewn cushion that, when light or shadow settles on certain angles, almost looks rectangular. The Duneshore morphs beneath the lighting.
WIND-CREASED HILLS OF SAND
Not far from our hometown of Valparaiso, Indiana is the Dunes National Lakeshore, a special place for anyone who grew up in northwest Indiana. Amid the plots of corn and humble flatness of the Midwest, here, unexpectedly, is a beautiful beach and sloping hills of wind-creased sand – a form that inspired much of the Duneshore case. This place is in our DNA; and now it’s in our watches, too.
Like many, we find Chicago’s Bean (actual name: Cloud Gate) alluring. Most trips to the city require at least one photograph with its glowing, steely oddness. But there’s something else about The Bean that perhaps does not immediately jump to mind: it looks kind of comfy. Like an avant-garde chair flipped over. At least, we thought so, and thus used the piece as inspiration for our ergonomic, curved caseback.
On wrist, the Duneshore’s curved back provides exceptional wearing comfort. Off wrist, it just looks darn cool. And, like The Bean, at certain viewing angles, it produces some pretty interesting distortions.
A MANUFACTURING EXHIBITION
The geometry of the Duneshore case is more complex (and more challenging to manufacture) than your typical watch in the sub-$1k market. And while it’s difficult to definitively call it the most complex in its segment, we’re comfortable saying that if it’s not, it’s darn close.
Take a good look at that caseback. It has to integrate flush with the midcase and the exhibition crystal, neither of which are simple, flat transitions, but complex, curved surfaces.
The hands of the Duneshore were inspired by calligraphy nibs. Calligraphy, like mechanical timekeeping, is as much about the art form as it is the content. Today, writing in calligraphy or wearing a mechanical watch are unexpected references to the past, conveying a preference for human artistry over robotic exactitude.
STAY FOR THE DIAL
“Come for the case, stay for the dial” is something we often tell people when first presenting the watch. The case is obvious about its idiosyncrasy; it catches your eye and calls you to look closer. The dial is far more subtle. Its details don’t leap out at once, but over time you begin to notice and appreciate them. For instance, the minute marks are not printed, but perforated. The entire dial was made a two-piece sandwich construction to create this one effect. Combined with the applied indices at the hours, this seemingly flat dial has multiple levels for truly understated depth.
Each dial is rendered in matte color before receiving a thin layer of lacquer, intended to resemble wet ink. Afterward, thin crosshairs are printed in black and the dial signature in luminant. A date window is cut at 3’oclock, revealing a custom black date disk with lumed numerals.
The Duneshore is available in three dial colors: Beach (a natural, light tan), Blue Slate (a navy grey), and Forest Ore (a dark green).
We’re fans of lume, so we decided to give a healthy dose to the Duneshore, making the minutes, hours, hands, date, and dial signature all glow a cool blue at night. When the sun goes down, you won’t be at a loss for the time.
The lume we use is type BGW9 from Swiss SuperLuminova who are well known for making some of the best luminous compounds available today.
SAPPHIRES AND LEGIBILITY
A 2.5mm thick sapphire crystal with underside anti-reflective coating protects our dial. Sapphire is the premium choice for watch crystals, offering unmatched scratch resistance and clarity. Moreover, this sapphire is perfectly flat, reducing visual distortion and maintaining legibility, even at extreme viewing angles. The addition of anti-reflective coating further augments the Duneshore’s legibility in bright environments that might otherwise produce glare.
SOAKED WITH NO STRESS
The Duneshore is equipped with a screw-down crown, helping it achieve a 100 meter water resistance rating. This means there’s no need to worry about the Duneshore should you be caught in a sudden downpour or decide to take an evening dip.
The Duneshore has pierced lugs, making strap changes a breeze.
Each Duneshore comes with original straps, buckles, and buckle tangs. Coupled with the pierced lugs of the case, you’ll have an easy time keeping your watch matched to your attire and looking smart.
A mechanical watch can stay in working order for decades, even centuries. If you find one that’s been lost for years, there’s a good chance all you need to do is give it a wind and it will start ticking – no software update or battery change required. This is a character we admire and chose to instill in our watch, giving it a modern mechanical heart built like a workhorse. Our movement of choice? The venerable Miyota 9015.
The 9015 combines both manual and self winding, hacking seconds, a modern 4 Hz operating frequency, 24 jewels, 42 hours of power reserve, and a shock absorber on the balance staff. Beyond that, we’ve customized our 9015s with engraved rotors and black date disks with blue lumed numerals.
DETAILS MAKE PERFECTION
“Details make perfection, and perfection is not a detail,” once quoth Leonardo da Vinci. As with most things, da Vinci was spot on. Accordingly, we’ve spent a lot of time sweating the finer points of this watch. Details like reflecting the shape of our hour indices onto the rotor engraving. Or shaping the counterweight of the second’s hand like the door-knocker tip of our emblem. Or crafting our unique buckle as an echo of the case shape.
A PEN TO PINE FOR
Alongside the Duneshore, we are pleased to offer you these hand-turned, pinecone-bodied fountain pens, made in Indiana. Each pen takes between 6 to 8 hours to manufacture. As you may imagine, turning pinecone on a lathe, even when that pinecone has been resin infused, is a delicate process. Go too fast and the piece explodes. No doubt, though, that the finished product is worth the wait. The resulting details are like nothing we’ve ever seen before, frankly. The patterns transition from smoky, swirling regions to something more reminiscent of wooden scales.
Once you own a Visitor watch, you'll enjoy access to a world-wide network of premium parking and “Visitor Centers.” Some people will tell you these are for "everyone" but they're definitely wrong.
"Pardon me, sir, but the park brochures are for watch furnished patrons only." Oh yeah. We’ve heard it.
Kidding aside, once Duneshores start hitting wrists, we hope you'll share your #justvisiting pictures with us. We'd love to see where they end up.
No flowery stuff. Just numbers.
Duneshore technical specifications:
Along Wrist: 44mm (excluding crown)
- Height Across Wrist: 42mm
- Thickness: 11.75mm from top of crystal to valley of curved caseback, 13.69mm to crest
- Lug to Lug: 51mm (furthest extremities); 48mm (spring bar axis to spring bar axis)
- Lug Width: 22mm
- Crown: 7mm Diameter X 2.8mm thickness
- Sandwich Dial with Applied Indices
- BGW9 Super Luminova applied to Hour and Minute Hand, Indices, Lower Dial Disk for Minutes, Date Disk, Dial Signature
- Screw Down Crown
- 100 meter Water Resistance
- Pierced Lugs
- 3-piece Screwed Case made of 316L Stainless Steel
- Curved Exhibition Caseback with flush mounted curved mineral crystal
- 2.5mm thick Sapphire Crystal with underside Anti-Reflective Coating
- Fully Mirror Polished Case excluding Vertically Brushed region on Caseback
- Modified Miyota 9015
- Custom Rotor
- Custom Black Date Disk with BGW9 lumed numerals
- 28,800 BPH (4Hz) Operating Frequency
- Hacking Seconds
- Hand and Automatic Winding
- 42 Hour Power Reserve
- 24 Jewels
- Balance Staff Shock Absorber
French deerksin (standard), calf jacket leather (stretch goal), ostrich
- 22mm width at lug, tapering to 20mm width at tail
- Tang buckle
- 120mm/80mm lower/upper length
- Approximate 3mm thickness throughout
- Design: USA
- Engineering: USA, Hong Kong
- Manufacturing: Hong Kong, China, France (strap)
- Movement: Japan
- Watch Assembly: Hong Kong
- Quality Inspection: USA, Hong Kong
Fountain pen technical specifications:
- Length: 160mm
- Max Barrel Diameter: 15mm
- Width at Clip: 18mm
- #6 Iridium Nib
- Screw-driven Piston Filler
- Single-use Cartridges
- Snap On/Off Cap
- Easy Break Down for Cleaning
- Pen body: USA
- Nib: Germany
Our Forest Ore dial has been prototyped, but not cased:
For your reference, please also see these renders:
We would love (like really love) to exceed our 300 watch minimum order quantity. But to do it, we’ll undoubtedly need your help spreading the word. We all know what an incredibly powerful tool social media can be when it comes to getting a message out there. Should our stretch goals be met, all pledge levels that include a watch will receive up to $100 worth of bonus straps, at no additional cost to you.
“Visitor? Why Visitor?” is something we’ve heard almost as often as “Wow. What a gorgeous watch.” So we’d like to take a moment to explain how in the world our wristwatch ended up being the Visitor Watch Co. Calligraph Duneshore.
Brand Name: Visitor. We chose the name Visitor because of those unique sensations that only occur when you personally identify as a visitor. When the locals can tell “you’re not from around here.” You’re different in some interesting, unexpected way. And for you, the occasion of being a visitor is almost always memorable. It means you’ve shed the comfort zone and are off looking for new stories. That is the vibe we seek to capture as a brand.
Collection Name: Calligraph. “Calligraph” is the verb-derivative of “calligraphy.” As you might guess, it means 'to make calligraphy.' But, if you broaden that definition a bit, you can understand it to mean “to communicate beautifully.” And we think this gets at the essence of the mechanical watch in a modern context; why, after some 400 years, this technology is still around: because there is yet to be a more beautiful way to communicate time.
With this notion in mind, our debut collection was given the name Calligraph, and the hour and minute hands you'll find on our first model, the Duneshore, correspondingly take their inspiration from calligraphy pen nibs.
Model Name: Duneshore. Our debut model from the Calligraph collection is the Duneshore, named after the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. This place is special to us, and the sand dunes here inspired much of the Duneshore case.
Nickname: Calli Dune. Nicknames are ultimately up to the discretion of the customer community, but one we’ve heard and taking a liking to is “Calli Dune” (Cally Doon). Yep, that’s kind of fun to say.
“The idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.” – Andy Warhol
“‘Well,’ said Pooh, ‘what I like best,’ and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Anticipation is something of a rarity in today’s world. For better or for worse, though, anticipation is something we must ask of you.
The Miyota 9015 used in the Duneshore is svelte, affordable, and as accurate as most movements claiming Swiss origin. It also commands high demand and high lead times (how long one must wait for delivery). As of now, estimated lead time for a delivery of 9015s is 6 months. That means from the time we place a production order in December, it will likely be June before the movements are delivered. Cases, straps, packaging, and all non-movement-predicated aspects of production will be completed in that interval. Then, after movements arrive, they will be customized and cased, the watch heads will undergo first round quality inspection in Hong Kong, then ship to us in Indiana, where we will perform final assembly and final quality inspections before delivering them to you.
We aim to complete all deliveries by the end of August, 2015 with the following production outline:
Be assured that we will do everything in our power to reduce this timeline as much as possible. However, some things – such as how long Miyota takes to fulfill an order – are difficult for a small brand to influence.
Please be aware that a few changes will be made to the prototypes you see pictured as we head into production.
No quest is without peril. We have faced much simply to get here. The past year has brought its fair share of challenge and triumph, frustration and joy. Yet every moment, good or bad, was confronted with passion. Which, as we move forward, is why we are confident we can deliver. Because we genuinely love watches. Producing these timepieces is our dream. And though there will be obstacles along our quest, none will be so great as to overwhelm that driving passion.
Risks and challenges
A. Risk: Chinese intellectual property issues
A. Response: Foreign intellectual property is not one of our core competencies. Therefore, we have hired a top US law firm specializing in Chinese intellectual property.
B. Risk: Critical degradation of Beijing/Hong Kong relations
B. Response: For Visitor and the vast majority of watch brands, Hong Kong is the gateway to the Asian watch market. A disturbance in the flow of goods between mainland China and Hong Kong could have a ripple effect, introducing delays into the production schedules of many watch brands, including Visitor. As we are a very small brand, our strategy is that of the remora: we will rely on the giants of the industry who swim through the same trade channels and have invested millions into the strength of that infrastructure.
C. Risk: Delayed delivery of movements
C. Response: 6 months is the current estimated lead time for 500 Miyota 9015 movements. That estimate is subject to move up or down based on the final number of movements ordered and a variety of secondary factors, such as an influx of orders to Miyota or priority requests. The reality is we have little influence on this lead time, so our strategy will be to focus on all the other elements of production over which we do exercise significant influence. That way, when the movements do arrive, they may be integrated into production as efficiently as possible. For future launches, when our product development budget permits, we will adopt a strategy of pre-ordering all movements to avoid a long delay. Unfortunately, on this very first launch, that option was not economically viable.
D. Risk: Product quality issues
D. Response: The prototyping process is important both from the perspective of product refinement and supplier vetting. After successfully building two fully functional, high-quality prototypes, Visitor is confident in the abilities of its suppliers to deliver high-quality, high-value components. Additionally, every Visitor watch we’ll be subject to two rounds of quality inspections: once after watch head assembly in Hong Kong, and again after final assembly in the United States. No manufacturer can produce 100% defect-free product; that said, we are confident we can catch the infrequent sub-standard component and remove it from the supply chain well before end customer delivery.
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