A Singapore-based “micro brand”, Zelos Watches has found success with affordable sports watches, mostly priced at about US$1,000 or less, but often incorporating unusual materials such as carbon fibre or meteorite.
But in a significant departure from its usual fare, Zelos has just unveiled the Mirage, a flying tourbillon powered by a calibre made by a noted Swiss movement maker La Joux-Perret. With the case options including Timascus and mokume-gane, which are pattern-welded titanium and bronze respectively, the Mirage certainly sticks to the brand’s design ethos of exotic materials.
While it’s not surprising that the Mirage is substantially more expensive than Zelos’ past models, it is still good value for a watch featuring both a respectable tourbillon movement and an exotic-metal case. The case is sleek and modern, machined to create sharp, wide facets that give it an aggressive stance and complement the contemporary look of the movement.
Of the three case materials on offer, the Timascus versions are the most intriguing. Typically found in high-end custom knives, Timascus is being used in a watch for the first time according to Zelos.
In terms of complications, the Mirage is a radical departure from the brand’s previous offerings. Powered by a skeletonised flying tourbillon movement from La Joux-Perret, the Mirage enters the realm of technical horology. The movement is hand-wound, with its bridges and base plate coated black and finished with circular graining on top.
Like the similarly affordable Horage tourbillon that’s equipped with the same base movement, the calibre in the Mirage has a gear train designed to sit alongside the tourbillon cage rather than below, as is convention. The construction allows the watch to be a surprisingly slim 9.5 mm, excluding the crystal, and also provides a better view of the tourbillon from front and back.
A transparent sapphire dial shows off the depth and details of the skeletonised movement – with the tourbillon sitting in an aperture in the sapphire dial – while also creating the illusion of floating hands indices and hour markers, explaining the “mirage” moniker.
The 41 mm case is available in titanium, Timascus and mokume-game – with each having hands and hour markers in the same colour as the case.
The most conventional of the trio is titanium, which is rendered in its natural grey, monochromatic state. Though titanium is common in watches generally, the minority of the Mirage run will be in the metal, only two of the ten in titanium.
Timascus, on the other hand, is pattern-welded titanium. Essentially a stronger titanium alloy, timascus is produced by welded various piece of titanium alloys together, then folding and forging the billet – a process repeated multiple times to create an metal with an attractive wood-grain surface. The specific Timascus alloy used for the Mirage is offered in blue or yellow.
Last is mokume-gane, a traditional Japanese metalworking technique that translates as “wood grain metal”. It’s essentially pattern-welded brass, and like Timascus, creating the alloy requires pressing or welding, and then folding, billets of different metal to create the striated surface.
The use of copper and nickel silver for the Mirage case results in a brown and silver wood-grain pattern, but the copper will acquire a patina over time, enhancing the contrast between the layers.
Key facts and price
Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 11.5 mm
Material: Titanium, timascus, or copper with silver alloy (mokume-gane)
Water resistance: 50 m
Movement: LJP 7814
Functions: Hours, minutes and flying tourbillon
Winding: Manual wind
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 60 hours
Limited edition: Ten in total – two in titanium, three in Mokume-gane, and five in Timascus
Availability: Direct from Zelos starting June 9
Price: US$10,900; or 15,400 Singapore dollars (titanium)
US$11,900; or 16,800 Singapore dollars (timascus/mokume-gane)
For more information, visit Zeloswatches.com.
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