Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Koa Wood & Silver Dial

An experiment I'm toying with is a Hawaiian Koa wood insert for the inner portion of a silver dial (with roman numerals) for a Ka La watch.

I think the words ("INDIVIDUAL DESIGN" at the top and "SWISS MOVEMENT" at the bottom) are not distinct enough, so I plan to must eliminate them on the next test insert. Also, the date window at 3 o'clock needs to be a bit smaller. And the koa insert needs to be about 0.5 mm smaller in diameter. Otherwise, I like the contrast and overall effect of the wood and the metallic dial together.

The quick and dirty mock-up below shows the koa insert on a silver dial and only the second hand disk (no minute or hour hands).

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Prototype Bracelet Links

The previous post showed the plastic prototype links with just a quick coat of silver paint. I took another link and sanded and filed it a bit to make it closer to the design finish. Then a sprayed a lot of paint on it to help fill in the grooves (which are artifacts from the prototype creation process).

This gives you a better idea of how the links will look. For comparison, I placed the smoothed link together with the raw ones from yesterday's post. Now the "ridge" on the link is more visible.

Prototype Bracelet

I received the plastic prototype bracelet links today. I put them together using wire from paperclips, so it is a bit rough looking but it does confirm that the spacing between links (0.2 mm) works well. The pieces are white plastic so I gave them a quick coat of silver spay paint to get a better idea of how they will look with a stainless steel watch case.

Also there are no end pieces or clasp links, so this is a phase one check out. But the bracelet does seem comfortable so far.

As I suspected, the open ends of the "C" shape needs to be rounded where they meet the next link due to the angle change as each link curves around your wrist. And I may lower the pin holes by 0.5 mm as well.

The plastic prototype links show the "lay up" but the production links will not have the grooves seen on the prototypes. The links will be stain brush finished for the most part with some high gloss areas.

I placed my order last Sunday for the prototype pieces and they arrived in 5 days. Two of which were for shipping. That's FAST!!! Thanks Redeye On Demand.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Metal Bracelet Desgin

Perhaps the next production item will be a stainless steel bracelet for my Ka La watches. In keeping with the theme of the curved lug "rings" on the watch case, I have designed a metal bracelet with curved links.

The below CAD render does not include the end pieces that will attach the links to the watch case, but it does give a good idea of how things would look.

The bracelet links are just over 23 mm wide at the widest part of the curve and 20 mm where the links join each other. The link thickness is 4 mm and the links join each other on a 12 mm spacing. I have designs for the end pieces and a "half-link" already drawn in Corel Draw (2D). Next I need to redraw these pieces in my 3D CAD program.

The bracelet will close via a butterfly deployment buckle. I have reviewed the design of a number of fold over clasps on metal bracelets and quite honestly, too many of them are "cheesy" with thin and roughly finished parts. And they seem to fall into one of two camps: they fail to stay closed (folded over) or they are too tight and are very hard to unclasp. A butterfly deployment (with spring releases) avoids these issues which friction lock with folder over clasps suffer from.

The "half-links" will allow the bracelet length to be changed by 6 mm when a full link (12 mm on center) is too large of an adjustment. For comparison, most leather straps have a 6 mm hole spacing. One of my pet peeves with metal bracelets with a 10mm, or more, inter-link spacing and no other adjustment options. They often seem too loose or too tight when a single link is added/removed. A "half-link" solves this problem for most people, but too many bracelets fail to have either one or otherwise provide for micro adjustment at the buckle.

I'm considering using to see if I can fund the production of these bracelets. If so, the supporters would receive a free metal bracelet upgrade (a $100 value) with the purchase of a Ka La watch. I will get an cost estimate from my watch case maker and go from there on deciding how much I would need to fund via Kickstarter.

Update: Below is the render (above) with a photo of a Ka La Ref. 10111 composited into it.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Travel Case

I'm evaluating a travel case which I may end up using as the standard packaging for the Individual Design Ka La watches.

Shown is a leatherette slip case with a Ka La Ref 10141 on a white strap (which is not offered at this point).

Checking out a metal bracelet

While my eventual goal is to produce a metal bracelet for Ka La watches of my own design, I got a commodity stainless steel bracelet in order to evaluate its deployment buckle design.

This was also an experiment to see how the stainless steel cased Ka La watch looks on a steel bracelet. This also demonstrates that is is easy to mount many 20mm after-market straps and bracelets to a Ka La watch.

White strap?

While the size and weight of the Ka La watch (43 mm case and 97 grams with a strap) lend it to being a gentlemen's watch, there are women who wear relatively large watches and appreciate an automatic movement and bold styling.

So, I got a white leather strap to see how it would go with a Ka La Ref. 10141 which has a silver and white dial and stainless steel case.

If I offer this color, the production strap would be likely be genuine crocodile and with a normal (non-deployment) buckle.

Second Customer Delivery

The second customer delivery was sent on its way Tuesday (August 14th). I expect delivery confirmation and customer feedback any time now.

Like the first delivery (which was made in person in Las Vegas on August 10th), this was a Ka La reference 10222 which features a black PVD case, black dial and red dial accents and hands. The strap is carbon fiber with red leather trim.

Being one of the three pre-order watches, this watch was sent in a hand made Hawaiian Koa wood box with special laser engraving on the inside of the box's lid.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First Customer Delivery

The Individual Design launch event was in Las Vegas the weekend of August 11 & 12, 2012. The first customer delivery was to Mike Hamner of a Ka La watch which was an early birthday present for his son Mychael (who was also with us).

More photos are posted on Facebook (

This very first customer watch was a Ka La Reference 10222. 

Details are: Black PVD case, black dial with red hands and 12 o'clock hour marker. The other hour makers have lume (which the hour and minute hand also have). The strap is genuine carbon fiber and is trimmed in red leather.

This pre-ordered watch was delivered in a hand make Hawaiian Koa wood box. The inside of the box's lid was laser engraved with "Individual.Design" and "Patron d'Origine". Only the three pre-order watches will ever have koa boxes with "Patron d'Origine" engraved upon them. The watch was in a deerskin pouch which was then placed in the koa box.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Piece Unique" with a Hawaiian Koa wood dial

Hawaiian koa wood is most beautiful when it has "curls". These are sections in the wood where there are visible "stripes" that most often run at 90 degrees to the grain. When the angle of the light changes, these stripes  reverse from light to dark. In effect, these are an example of nature creating an polarized material. The curls are the result of stress present when the tree was growing. Most often, these are in areas where a large (and heavy) limb joins the trunk.

I have a very limited amount of extremely thin curly koa veneer. I laser cut and laser engraved a piece to make an overlay for a Ka La watch dial. I selected a base dial with round hour makers trimmed with PVD rose gold. The watch was completed using rose gold ion plated hands, a black date ring (the date is visible at 3), a PVD rose gold case and, for the moment, a brown crocodile strap.

I have a custom strap being created by Rob "Montana", aka The Strapsmith, which will be fitted to the watch in a few weeks.

At this point, this is just a one-off item for me. However I could do a strictly limited edition run if there is enough interest. The wood on each piece would be unique, even though the dials would be made from the same piece of koa veneer.

Prototype Ka La Ref. 10141

My watchmaker completed assembling an example of Reference 10141 of my, about to be released, Ka La watches. This model has a white and sunray (silver) dial with applied black roman numeral hour markers. The hands are ion plated blue and the stainless steel case is fitted with a cognac genuine alligator strap.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Partial prototype with Cognac Alligator strap

Below is a partial assemblage showing an older prototype Ka La watch case with a silver & white dial with roman numerals. It has a second hand disk taped to the dial but no hour and minute hands. This was thrown together to just get an idea of how this dial and case combination would look with a cognac genuine alligator leather strap. I think it looks pretty elegant and makes for a nice dress watch.