Pramzius watches certainly chose to make a sharp departure in design and execution on their second Kickstarter timepiece, the Berlin Wall Signature Edition. The company already demonstrated in 2017 with the Trans Siberian convertible pocket/wrist watch that they were comfortable being outside the mainstream. Still, it is unusual to see a watch company create something so markedly different from what brought them success in their first outing.
At first glance their new Berlin Wall watch appears to be just another DNA watch, and one with elements that arguably aren’t really all that rare – pieces of the Berlin Wall. After all, the wall was 155 kilometers long and nearly three meters high. But chip away at the first impression and you’ll find a lot more went into the thinking behind this watch than just DNA.
“This watch had been percolating in my mind for years,” says Pramzius Co-Founder, Craig Hester. “John Gaps gave me the pieces way back in 2001 and I had been using them as a part of presentations about Eastern European watches for many years. Then it dawned on me this would make one heck of a DNA-style timepiece.”
The John Gaps that he is referring to was the on-the-ground photographer at the Berlin Wall when it fell in 1989. Hester and Gaps go back nearly 20 years to when Hester was in the newspaper industry. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 1993, Gaps agreed to provide Hester with more pieces of the wall and sign a certificate of authenticity along with the use of his award-winning photography.
“But I knew it had to be more than just some dust on a dial,” Hester said. “We wanted people to be able to actually see the pieces in the watch somehow and we wanted the piece to be instantly recognizable as a watch commemorating the fall of the wall.” Hester and his team played with a number of ideas and then finally rested on the plan to put the pieces in the crown with a crystal over it so you could see them inside.
But that still left them with how to make the watch speak to the Berlin Wall at first glance. Hester started researching the East Side Gallery, the still standing section of wall with the most well-known graffiti still displayed today. That lead to the decision to depict the actual graffiti on the dial.
“We reached out to the East Side Gallery because we didn’t want any piece of this project to not be 100% approved by any artist involved,” Hester said. “They loved the idea and we brought them on as a partner and a portion of the proceeds from the watch are going to support the upkeep of the museum.”
But Pramzius didn’t stop there. They decided that the only numbers to appear on the chapter ring would be the 8 and the 9 and they reversed them for the year 1989. They also designed those numbers to look like graffiti. Beyond this, the dial is actual marble to honor the Brandenburg Gate, where Ronald Reagan told Gorbachev: “Tear down this wall!” The gate is also etched on the caseback.
The Pramzius team also realized that watch case size has become a split proposition these days. There are die hard collectors who have no interest in big watches and another equally passionate group that won’t ever wear more traditional, smaller timepieces. So Pramzius is building 42mm and 48mm versions of the watch. They also decided to have one dial with the graffiti in full color and one with it etched in the marble, as they knew there would be strong opinions about that as well.
The case is done in a distressed plating to look immediately aged and there are bracelet and strap options. The other details seem not as important when set against the main aspects of the watch, but they went with an NH35 automatic, a sapphire crystal, 10 ATM of water resistance, and 316L stainless steel. The lume is 15 individual silk screen layers and does the job of lighting up the watch just fine with Swiss Super-LumiNova. The watch will retail for $649 for the leather strap version and $699 for the bracelet with the straps also included.
The watch is available for pre-order on the brand’s official website and their Kickstarter page.pramzius.com
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