When it comes to crazy ideas for a crowdfunded watch, a tourbillon movement has to be pretty high up the list of “go home, you’re drunk” concepts. Zion Manufacturing Company is run by a couple of Australians so maybe that helps explain it.  What makes a tourbillon project so challenging I hear you ask? Well, let me explain…

Zion Manufacturing Company Apollo tourbillon watch

 

So what’s the big deal about tourbillon movements anyway? developed in the late 1700’s and patented in 1801 by Abraham-Louis Breguet, the tourbillon movement is designed to counteract the force of gravity acting on a balance wheel and escapement by building the whole assembly in a rotating cage. The cage typically revolves once a minute and  this rotation averages out any positional errors. While the tourbillon was originally designed to improve accuracy, the added mechanical complication has become a symbol of watchmaking prowess in many renowned brands.

So as you can imagine, successfully producing an affordable tourbillon is going to be quite an accomplishment. And I must say, I think Zion have pulled it off.

The watch itself is stunning in a way that pictures don’t do justice. The funny thing with watches is that glossy and mirrored surfaces bring a case and dial to life in a way that is impossible to capture in a photo. The finish on the Apollo is quite impressive and captures the light in a truly delightful way. I asked my photographer friend Jeff to photograph the watch because I couldn’t do it justice with my poor camera, his work is up top. In fact I didn’t even bother taking my own pictures at all. I’ve used a few of Zion’s own pictures here too.

At $1309 AUD (approx $999 USD) for the lowest priced early bird tier, this is an absolute steal for a tourbillon watch. While some might scoff at the chinese origin of the movement, the fact is that China is more than capable of producing good quality movements. This is an image problem faced by most microbrands that assemble in China but as more and more people become familiar with the higher quality offerings out of China, the less this will be a problem. “Japanese made” and “Korean made” faced the same perception issues in the 50’s and 60’s.

The watch looks good, is comfortable to wear and has an interesting feature in the choice of movement. All this at a reasonable price. What more can you ask for in a watch?

The Apollo is live on Kickstarter at time of publishing and those early tiers are likely to go fast.

Specifications

  • case diameter of 42mm, and depth of 12mm
  • Strap made from the finest Kangaroo Leather
  • Multi layer dial
  • Double domed, AR coated sapphire crystal
  • Sapphire crystal exhibition caseback
  • 3A00 Automatic Tourbillon Watch  Movement – 28,800bph with approx 60hrs power reserve

Kangaroo leather? Oh yes Zion Manufacturing Company is an Australian company from the Surf Coast, right on the Great Ocean Road. The reason it says “Manufacturing” and not “Watch” in their name is that they plan on doing much more than just watches. Their range of Kangaroo leather products will grow and starts with watch straps and a wallet that can be pledged for separately on their campaign.

Visit Kickstarter now to preorder.