There’s cool, there’s unique and then there’s just downright outrageous I have to have it right now! The Nitro timepiece, as its come to be affectionately known, falls most convincingly into this latter category and so any chance I have to get hands-on with one, I take.
Given that only a handful of these incredible timepieces will ever be made you can appreciate that seeing one in the wild, let alone getting up close and personal, doesn’t happen that often, which is why you need to strike when the opportunity presents itself.
Fortunately my partner-in-crime, Anish Bhatt (aka Watch-Anish), is somewhat of an expert when it comes to talking watches right off people’s wrists for the sake of an impromptu photo-shoot. Although to be fair this watch’s owner – industry veteran Ian Skellern, or @underthedial as he is more commonly known online –didn’t offer too much in the way of resistance. Of course that could be because he’s in charge of the brand.
For those not already familiar with the Nitro concept please allow me to give a brief bit of background. The founding principle was to create a platform for horological experiments to be carried out by some of the independent watchmaking world’s most free-spirited thinkers, namely MB&F partners, Maximilian Büsser and Serge Kriknoff and URWERK founders, Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei. The aim is to work together (and with other partners) to create interesting timepieces that they could not do under their existing brands. The result of their first experiment was the incredible ZR012 timepiece you see before you, which was officially launch last year.
As you might expect the technical complexity of this watch is simply astonishing and so would require an entirely separate article just to discuss in any sort of detail. Fortunately, I have already written one and so you can read it here to get yourself up to speed with how everything works. What I am going to be focusing on therefore (as usual) is the look and feel of the ZR012.
One of the first things you notice about the ZR012 is the unusually shaped case. Unlike anything you’ve seen before, the unique design is the handiwork of Büsser and Kriknoff, in conjunction with legendary independent watch designer Eric Giroud.
Constructed from zirconium, which is derived from the mineral zircon and is highly resistant to corrosion, the watch is extremely lightweight despite its relatively large size. The distinctive lugs meanwhile have been crafted from titanium, again ensuring lightness but also strength. Both have been designed with a superior fit in mind and as you can see from the photos (and as I can tell you from personal experience) this goal has most certainly been achieved. The clever design of the articulated rear lug and compound front lug ensure that the ZR012 wraps ergonomically around your wrist, meaning that it fits snugly but without pinching anywhere. To further enhance this experience a soft brown leather strap completes the package.
What really seals the deal for me though from an aesthetic view point is the level of detail inherent throughout the design of the case, which carries through to the dial creating a truly mesmerizing multi-layered effect. This is one of those pieces you just want to hold up and examine from every angle. It’s easy to see that a great deal of thought has gone into its design and construction, there are no frivolous details here everything has been done for a reason.
Similarly the stunning architecture of the manually wound, 328-component movement demands extended study in order to be truly appreciated. The Wankel-style complication alone provides hours of endless fascination thanks to the open-worked dial that exposes many of the intricate processes going on just below the surface. This is a watch not just for connoisseurs but also for engineers, scientists and anyone who is fascinated by design and moving parts. It quite literally is like wearing a miniature engine on your wrist, how cool is that?
A total of 12 pieces featuring the Wankel complication will be made in Zirconium and will retail at 130,000 Swiss francs (plus post and any applicable taxes). A further 12 pieces will also be made in black zirconium, and then it will be time to move on to the next experiment!
The Final Word
This is the watch for the collector who has it all and is looking for something completely different, something that will make their fellow collectors go ‘whoa!’ Best of all this is an incredible piece of haute horology that has actually been designed to be worn, not locked away in a box or case somewhere, which in my opinion is pretty damn cool.