In a series of posts over the past few weeks, we discussed the origin of an Indian Air Force inspired watch collection. Work on the MACH 1 collection began in July/August 2018, right after we launched the Renaissance Automatic collection. The journey of every new design is about six months from drawing board to prototypes, followed by another 3-4 months for production.
The journey of every new design is about six months from drawing board to prototypes.
During the MACH 1 design process, we started exploring the possibility of a special limited run of watches with parts from an Indian Air Force MiG 21. The idea of creating watches with components from airplanes isn't new; although very few brands have executed them well.
With the Indian Air Force's strict policy of not making airplane scrap available to third-parties, it was almost impossible at the time to imagine such a project. With perseverance, and a stroke of luck we got wind of a legitimate source with limited material recovered from the skin of decommissioned Indian Air Force MiG 21.
It was almost impossible at the time to imagine such a project.
Once a price was agreed and material transported to Bangalore, Mercy and I were staring at this material and each other and wondering how we were going to move forward. After a lot of looking around, we found an aerospace manufacturing company in Bangalore and came up with the process to a) validate the legitimacy of the material, b) preserve the material from decay, and c) fabricate the material from a sheet of aluminum to a watch dial.
1. Validation - We collaborated with a Nationally Accredited Materials Research lab in India to confirm the composition of the aluminum alloy, and cross-checked that the material composition checks off as a MiG 21 skin.
2. Preservation - we devised a multi-step chemical process that results in a military-grade hard-anodized coating for the aluminum that prevents oxidation and extends the life of the material.
3. Fabrication - we then put together a plan to machine the sheet of aluminum into dial blanks with the desired size, shape, and function using a five-axis CND machining process. These dial blanks were then sent to our Dial Factory in Hong Kong for the printing of Swiss C3 Superluminova indices.
The entire process has been long and arduous. But Mercy and I are excited about providing twenty-one of our patrons the opportunity to own a piece of history from the Indian Air Force.