Do you know that feeling? You walk around in a car show and are all of a sudden, you are eye to eye with the perfect expression of automobile art! In this instance, the most likely situation is that the car in question is a prototype. What happens next? More likely than not, months later, you read a short article in your favorite car magazine stating that the brand in question, despite great interest from the public, decided not to take the prototype into production.
Unlike the automotive world, the world of Haute Horlogerie does know really have a tradition of showing prototypes that end up not being released eventually. If anything, most prototypes are actually already in an advanced, pre-production stage. Sometimes however, a smaller, niche brand can dream up a watch that does not become reality, often due to the inability to get enough funding to finish development and start up production. When seeing the first renderings of Arthur Oskar Stampfli’s “The Wheels of Time” I felt that this could also happen to this watch. Fortunately I was wrong.
In retrospect I could only be wrong, since Arthur Oskar Stampfli is far from your usual watch manufacture. It was founded in 2010 by Roland Stampfli as tribute to his father, Arthur Oskar Stampfli. The man showed a duality that is not unknown to the Swiss character, since he combined working in the watchmaking industry with a passion for fishing and being a Swiss boxing champion. A unique combination, and perhaps a reason the brand named after him has so far produced extraordinary watches. Take for example their 1916 collection, with a case shape that alone will draw attention, especially with the horned lugs that go partially over the case and sapphire crystal.
Yet these watches seem ordinary when it compared to “The Wheels of Time”! A two piece aluminum case serves as an exoskeleton, holding the sapphire crystals that allow you to have a clear view at two engraved cylinders. It is these cylinders that, in their perpetual motion, tell the time. As extravagant and extrovert this display of time may be, it is in fact also a practical one.
To ensure that it is also a comfortable, Stampfli has curved the case so it follows the wrist for increased wearing comfort. Despite that the watch is large, with a width of 26.8mm and an length of 68mm, with the use of aluminum helping to keep the overall weight down to only 81 grams.
The case does not deserve not all the credit here in the weight savings, the movement plays a large role as well. The two engraved cylinders that display time are in fact hollow so that they can contain the movement. This is done for more than for aesthetic reasons since the cylinders represent Mani ‘Khor Lo, Tibetan prayer wheels. In Tibet, devotees spin these wheels so that they can release the mantra’s that are kept inside them to the world around them. In exactly the same way the “The Wheels of Time” spreads the sense of time, equally difficult to grasp yet at time captivating to everyone.
The unique shape and technical design of The Wheels of Time make it a very practical watch by day, and by night. By filling in the engraved numerals on time wheels with Superluminova, one can not only read the time in the dark, but the whole effect is quite a spectacle around the wrist!
It is also a testimony of how well thought through this watch actually is. It is a beautiful and unique way of displaying time, one that actually has a philosophy behind showing a passion beyond mere marketing. Although the sentiment behind this watch may be classical yet timeless, the watch itself to show off a particularly modern character. It’s aluminum case can be ordered in grey, black, blue and red eloxage, and for the classical purists amongst us, in 18K yellow gold.
Prices of “The Wheels of Time” start at 42.000,- CHF. Those arguing that this is quite a bit of money are of course right, but in return you also get a lot of watch, not to mention something unique that no other brand offers With it’s manufacture movement placed in the barrels it is perhaps the ultimate mystery watch, and being a small manufacture, customization of the watch is possible, if not encouraged, making “The Wheels of Time” turn at your own beat!
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics