Kross Studio Introduces the 1989 Batmobile Desk Clock

The iconic Batmobile returns with a 30-day movement.

Only just established by a team of watch-industry veterans, Kross Studio is making its debut with the 1989 Batmobile Desk Clock. Instantly recognisable as the Batmobile driven by Michael Keaton as Batman, the clock is powered by an in-house, 30-day movement.

The aluminium-bodied clock is modelled on the Batmobile from Batman, the hit 1989 film directed by Tim Burton. Its sleek, Art Deco lines defined the styling of the Batmobile in all subsequent movies, until the franchise was rebooted with Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, which reimagined the Batmobile as an aggressive, military-style vehicle known as the Tumbler.

Initial thoughts

The Batmobile Desk Clock is cool, especially for anyone who grew up in the 1990s, when Michael Keaton’s Batman was the definitive version of the “Caped Crusader”. Importantly, Kross Studio managed to capture the look of the vehicle while unobtrusively incorporating the clock elements without disrupting the design.

Mechanically it is also well executed. Unlike most high-end desk clocks that are powered by movements made by L’Epee 1839, the Batmobile clock is equipped with a movement of Kross Studio’s own design and manufacture.

At a bit under US$30,000, the clock is priced reasonably enough, though not quite a value buy. The cost is similar to comparable clocks by MB&F, though not as affordable as the self-propelling car clock made by independent watchmaker John-Mikaël Flaux.

A clockmaking startup

Founded by a five-person team, Kross Studio is led by Marco Tedeschi, a constructor by profession whose most recent role was chief executive of RJ-Romain Jerome, the quirky watch brand that is now defunct. Another member of the team is Sergio Silva, a watchmaker who spent the bulk of his career at Vacheron Constantin and Roger Dubuis, before becoming the head of Romain Jerome’s manufacture.

The collective experience of the founders explains why Kross Studio managed to develop the tubular, 30-day movement in-house, instead of turning to established clockmakers like industry favourite L’Epee. Much of the clock is also produced by Kross Studio according Mr Tedeschi, who adds “we subcontract some part manufacturing to Concepto, among other subcontractors.”

Batman returns

Measuring a little under 30 cm, or 12″, from end to end, the clock is modelled on the actual car from the film and possesses the same proportions. Time is indicated on two large cylinders visible through a window on the bonnet, while the tinted windows of the windscreen reveal part of the movement.

The coachwork is aluminium covered in a scratch-resistant black coating, while the movement forms the chassis, with the balance wheel visible through a window at the nose.

Notably, the balance operates at a higher frequency than typical desk clocks. Instead of the 18,000 beats per hour, the movement runs at 21,600 beats per hour, or 3 Hz, which is similar to wristwatch movements. The increased frequency promises more stable timekeeping over time, especially when the balance is subject to shock (which is admittedly unlikely in a clock).

And three large barrels – wound via a key shaped like the Batman emblem – give the clock a 30-day power reserve.

The movement from the rear, with the three large barrels at one end, and the two time-display cylinders at the front

The movement in profile


Key facts and price

Kross Studio 1989 Batmobile desk clock
Ref. BATMO20

Dimensions: 29.8 cm by 6.7 cm by 12.1 cm
Weight: Approximately 2 kg
Material: Black-coated aluminium

Movement: KS10’000
Functions: Hours and minutes
Winding:
 Key-wound
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 30 days

Limited edition: 100 pieces
Availability: Direct from Kross Studio
Price: US$29,900

For more, visit Kross-studio.ch.


 

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Sinn Introduces the R500 Chronograph

A modern take on the 1970s "bullhead".

Famous for its no-nonsense “tool” watches, some of which are supplied to the German military and law enforcement, Sinn’s latest debut is slightly different. Inspired by auto racing, the R500 chronograph is a watch that shows the brand can have some fun, while being properly functional.

Modelled on a funky chronograph Sinn produced in the 1970s, the R500 is a “bullhead” chronograph, with the twin pushers positioned like horns at one and 11 o’clock. While the style very much evokes the 1970s, the R500 is built like a robust modern wristwatch, with titanium case rated to 200 m that’s resistant to extreme low and high pressures.

Initial thoughts

Radically different from Sinn’s usual fare of pilot’s or military-style watches, the R500 is arguably the most interesting watch amongst the brand’s recent releases. It’s recognisably 1970s in style, but with a clean dial design that avoids the “exotic” dial found on the vintage original, which was a typically 1970s feature that can look dated today.

A notable element of the dial design is the power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock, which seems unnecessary for an automatic watch. But German rally champion Peter Göbel, speaking during a video interview for the launch of the R500, noted that a fully-wound mainspring is crucial before starting a race – since the chronograph can be used to time laps – so it is useful in that context.

And it’s also unusual against the broader landscape because “bullhead” chronographs are rare. The design has been sparingly recreated in modern era, most notably by Singer, Omega, and Hamilton, but no watchmaker has done it recently. It’s synonymous with the 1970s, but unlike that decade’s luxury-sports watches, the “bullhead” has never quite caught on.

A key trait of the “bullhead” design – and perhaps something that limits its appeal – is the chunkiness of the case. At 42 mm wide and 16 mm high at its thickest, the R500 is large, but fortunately not too heavy as it is made of titanium.

Additionally, the case is round instead of tonneau-shaped, and it has no lugs, with the strap secured to the case with screws. This helps it fit better, because its effective size is reduced.

Priced at a little over US$4,000, the watch feels expensive for something powered by the robust-but-inexpensive ETA Valjoux 7750, especially when other Sinn chronographs with the same movement cost substantially less. That said, it does seem like fair, justifiable value considering two important factors: the relatively small run of just 300 watches – which means the tooling required for the case is amortised over just 300 units – plus its appealing, uncommon look.

“Bullhead”

Reputedly designed to improve accessibility of the pushers while driving or flying, the “bullhead” chronograph is ergonomic and also symmetrical. Racing driver Mr Göbel also pointed out in his interview that the “bullhead” design makes the chronograph easy to operate for both left- and right-handers.

Less obvious is the sloped case profile, a feature typically found on vintage “bullhead” chronographs. Featuring a pronounced slope from 12 o’clock to six o’clock, the dial is meant to be totally legible, even when with the hands on a steering wheel.

Notably the “bullhead” was not the first attempt at improved usability for professionals. Another approach was the tilted, off-centred dial dictated by a 1930s US Army Air Corps specification for an aviator’s chronograph, which has been reproduced in the modern day by Longines with its Avigation Type A-7 remake.

Though the “bullhead” design is different from the usual Sinn look, the R500 remains no-nonsense and durable, qualities that define the brand. Being fully brushed, the case finish matches for the large “tool” watch aesthetic. And despite being a tool watch, the dial features a handful of appealing details, including the chamfer around the recessed chronograph registers, a detail that refines the look but is uncommon at this price point.


Key facts and price

Sinn R500
Ref. 500.010

Diameter: 42 mm
Height: Sloping, 16 mm at 12 o’clock to 13 mm at 6 o’clock
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 200 m

Movement: ETA Valjoux 7750
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, power reserve indicator, and chronograph
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 48 hours

Strap: Black cowhide with pin buckle

Limited edition: 300 pieces
Availability: Now at Sinn’s authorised retailers
Price:
US$4,380; €3,950; or 7,250 Singapore dollars

For more, visit sinn.de.


 

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