[Editors note: This is one of those watches that is going to ruffle feathers. To be honest, it’s probably bit of a stretch to call it a microbrand. But when you get the opportunity to review something as quirky as this you go for it. If it’s not your thing, cool! No-one is forcing you to buy it! Enjoy it as an oddity. If it is your thing, well, read on and enjoy!]
It never ceases to amaze me the different or new types of watches that can be found on the market. Memorigin, a Hong Kong based brand, is generally acknowledged as the first to offer Chinese made tourbillons exclusively in their line of watches. Until recently, most Chinese watch brands were unknown to the rest of the world. The majority of Chinese watches have been inexpensive or counterfeit, but China is now able to produce watches with tourbillons of fine quality and finish at price points much lower than the Swiss.
This particular watch is made with their inhouse 28,800 bph movement which has 18 jewels and 40 hours of power reserve. Originally developed and patented by Abraham-Louis Breguet in June of 1801, the patent has long since expired.
Tourbillion means “whirlwind” in French where the mechanism literally spins on itself and is constantly moving, countering the effects of gravity that could upset the accuracy and reliability of the timepiece. With today’s technology, accuracy isn’t superior with a tourbillon, but the mechanism is fascinating to watch operate and it is a indicator of an expensive to extremely expensive timepiece for the most part.
The tourbillon design in this watch is known as the flying tourbillon. A normal tourbillon is supported by a bridge at both the top and bottom where the flying tourbillon is cantilevered and is supported from only one side. The first flying tourbillon came about in 1920 by Alfred Helwig, an instructor from the German School of Watchmaking. The tourbillons made by Memorigin takes 6 months to manufacturer in 4500 manufacturing steps. Watching this movement operate from the front or the back and listening to it tick is a rare horological treat for me. This is not your average hand wind watch movement!
The design theme of this watch was conceived by Mark Lui to represent the important character of Kylo Ren from the Star Wars movie series. In the movie, Kylo Ren is played by Adam Driver, but the characters “real” name is Ben Solo. Kylo is supposed to be the son of Hans Solo and Lea Organa. The Kylo Ren watch is part of a larger group of Star Wars watches offered by Memorigin featuring characters including Captain Phasma and Darth Vader.
Lucasfilm, the company under George Lucas that created Star Wars, was acquired by Disney in 2012. Under license from Hong Kong Disney Consumer Products, this classic character once again captures our attention in the form of a remarkable flying tourbillon watch.
This is a substantial watch, measuring 43mm in diamater, 14 mm thick, 50.6 mm lug to lug with 21 mm lugs that taper the strap to 18 mm. The strap is black nylon mesh with a red back, which I believe is also nylon, and has a folding gloss black metal clasp with the Memorigin logo on the clasp buckle. The watch case itself has a brushed black finished with a gloss black beveled bezel, a gloss black screw down engraved back with an exhibition back that nicely displays the well finished watch movement and tourbillon. The flat black hexagonal crown is substantial, easy to grip with a small gloss black bump on each face of the crown, and it is finished with a gloss black “M”. On the 9 o’clock side of the watch case there is a small glossy black plaque with the Memorigin logo.
The crystal is slightly domed sapphire while the watch face is finished in black with a downward curving group of six brushed lines and additional character design elements. The Star Wars logo is subtly visible in the black watch face background at the 12 o’clock point of the dial. 12 small black diamonds are located at the 12 points and the tourbillon itself (with the Memorigin name spinning on the front of the tourbillon) is prominently visible from both sides of the case at 6 o’clock. The hour hand is represented in a red tipped and chrome tie fighter motif while the minute hand is done in a red filled cross bladed lightsaber design. Reading the time on this watch has been compromised somewhat, but it makes the watch far more interesting.
This is a serious watch not only for the Star Wars aficionado but also collectors of watches with special themes. Considering it’s size, it is a reasonably comfortable watch to wear and it is very well made. The watch represents the Kylo Ren Star Wars character well, a difficult task to accomplish in an expensive time piece. Memorigin has proven that high quality and value in flying tourbillon watches can be combined into one of the most successful sci fi movies, surprising both fans and collectors with this unexpected dramatic timepiece. Limited edition of 100. memorigin.com
The easiest way to purchase one in western countries is through Amazon.com Memorigin do have a number of stores around the world, especially in Asia.