The core philosophy behind Draken is to create strong, dependable tool watches that will stand up to some of the toughest environments. Our first model, the Tugela, focuses on function, and durability, while ensuring that it meets the highest level of quality, on par with many Swiss made watches.
Instead of focusing on a watch driven by specs, our aim was to create a design that is completely unique and would stand on its own. Great effort was taken to find balance in all the elements. Finding the right watchmaker was also a challenge. They had to be capable of delivering a completely customised watch to extremely high quality standards. It’s taken a year to finally bring this to Kickstarter but we are really glad we took the time to get it right.
My name is Michael Blythe, founder and designer of Draken Watches. I grew up in South Africa and spent most of my life there. The African outdoors have always been a love of mine, and I now experience that love for the outdoors in New Zealand.
I have always been interested in watches, but it wasn't until early 2015 that I became completely obsessed with them. Subtle details in the designs started to fascinate me - the shapes of the hands, the teeth of the bezel, the date window, and the design of the crown. When I started designing the Tugela, I realised that this was something that I was truly passionate about.
A landscape that is rugged and immutable, beautiful and foreboding: the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa.
Often described as 'The Barrier of Spears', this majestic range was the training ground for the Zulus, one of the most formidable tribes of Africa.
The word 'Drakensberg' means Dragon's Mountain in Afrikaans, and it is this word that Draken Watches derives its logo and its heritage.
The Tugela Falls is one of the highest waterfalls in the world, and becomes the largest river in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa. It is this connection between land and water that inspired the Tugela dive watch.
Form truly follows function with the design of the case. The case and bezel create one unified shape, tapering outwards and upwards towards the edges of the bezel. This maximises your ability to grip the bezel, without being obstructed by the case below. The bezel also draws inspiration from the Protea, the national flower of South Africa.
The case is made of highly corrosion resistant 316L stainless steel with a bead-blasted finish for improved scratch resistance.
The Tugela river with the Northern Drakensberg mountains in the background, is one of the most endearing images of South Africa. It is this likeness that was chosen for the case back, creating a memorable and lasting heritage.
The Dial and Hands
We wanted to create a design that was unique, but still completely functional as a tool watch. It was important that we get the proportions and shapes of the indices just right, making sure they were in harmony with the shape of the hands.
The indices have triangle markers, inspired by Zulu beadwork patterns.
The markers at 3,9, and 12 utilise the same shapes in different configurations.
The marker at 12 is designed to perfectly align with the square of the second hand, each time it sweeps past. This is a little detail that we are very proud of, and we know you will appreciate. The indices and hands utilise C3 luminous paint, the brightest paint currently available.
The date window
Instead of adding a date window as an afterthought, we wanted to integrate it into the design. A custom made date wheel with luminous numbers gives you the ability to read the date even in the dark.
The single domed sapphire crystal is extremely scratch resistant, and improves legibility by magnifying the dial. It's also coated with Anti-reflective treatment on the inside to improve daylight legibility by reducing glare. We really wanted the curve of the bezel and crystal to be as seamless as possible.
The Tugela ships with 2 straps. For casual occasions, the leather strap is most suitable. Genuine leather, with white stitching, and an engraved stainless steel buckle. The straps feature quick release pins, making it easy to swap between them.
The secondary strap is a heavy duty ballistic nylon strap. This is ideal for all outdoor activities.
The movement of a watch is like its heart. It's literally what makes it tick. Many cheaper watches use quartz movements - movements with a battery. The Tugela is different. It uses a mechanical movement that automatically winds as you wear it. As long as you are moving, your Tugela will be ticking.
Enter the NH35A. One of the most reliable and tough movements on the market. Many watch makers have reported it going for 10 years before requiring a service. It's made by one of the biggest names in watches - Seiko.
It also has some added features:
Hand winding - if you haven't worn your watch for a couple of days, you can wind it manually to get it going again.
Hacking - this means that the second hand stops when you pull the crown out to the 3rd position. It allows you to more accurately set the time.
Bi-directional rotor - once you are wearing it, it will get up to full power reserve much quicker, and stay fully charged for longer.
Each watch will come in a PU leather bound box with a warranty card and instruction booklet.
The Tugela is built to last. It's made with top quality materials and components so that it can withstand the rigours of the outdoors. If you have any questions about what the Tugela can handle, please get in touch with us on Facebook or by email.
If in the unlikely event that there is a problem, each watch is covered by a 2-year limited warranty, which covers the case, movement and the strap.
After some consideration and feedback from the community, we have decided to add a stretch goal.
NZ$70,000: Every watch will come with a second leather strap, in the colour of your choosing from black and dark brown.
Risks and challenges
Every project has risks. We're no different. We've gone to great lengths to make sure that everything is in place and that the final production runs smoothly. This is why it has also taken us longer to get to this point - we wanted to make sure that everything was just right.
We won't be offering stretch goals because this could potentially add delays. There may be minor improvements made to the watch leading up to the production, all of which will be communicated to you here. We wouldn't send out a watch that we ourselves would not be happy to wear.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)