A Dubai-based crowdfunding campaign to launch quirky regulator watch goes live on September 28. The Apollo watch’s design is inspired by space and is powered by self-winding mechanical movement with a unique double domed Hesalite crystal.

The regulator dial separates the time, hour and minutes registers

What is a regulator watch? A relic of horological history, a regulator watch design is one where all three time registers – hours, minutes and seconds – have been separated. The minutes hand remains central but the hours and seconds registers are confined to subdials. The regulator design was first used in ateliers where a central clock with a prominent minutes hand provided the time for watchmakers to regulate clocks and watches that they were working on.

What’s most striking about Apollo is its unique case construction. The 38 mm case is dominated by a double domed Hesalite crystal. Both the front and back use a domed crystal which is brought together by a slim matt-finished steel caseband. The movement itself is not fixed to the case, as seen in most watches, but it is fixed to a toroidal-shaped support. This construction lends the pebble-shaped case a bubble effect.

The unique case construction ensures a bubble effect

Hesalite, a synthetic crystal most famously used in the Omega Speedmaster models that went to space, was used here because the dome has extreme curvatures that would have been impossible to realize with the more conventional sapphire crystal. “Hesalite is a synthetic glass and permits to have perfect transparent edges and an internal dome that’s different from the external shape. Apollo’s domed glass is also polished by hand to have the best bubble effect. It would not be possible with normal glass,” said Filippo Cima, the designer of the watch.

Cima is the managing director of iDEA & Associates, a Dubai-based design agency. Apollo was conceptualized after a chance encounter between Cima and Amber Liu, a Chicago-based horologer. It took the team, which includes the agency’s co-owner and UAE’s fastest woman Harriet Stewart, eight months of collaboration to conceptualize, engineer, prototype and finally ready the watch for production.

The Hesalite crystal brings a vintage charm to the timepiece

We got a hands-on look at a prototype of Neptune, one of the four models in the Apollo range. Neptune is characterized by a deep blue dial that serves as a map of the northern sky. The subdial at 9 o’ clock uses stars to mark the hours and a small seconds counter sits lower near 4 o’clock. A laser-cut date window is placed at 2. A degree scale is placed on the circumference of the domed dial. This scale, used in compass watches, is a nod to the ancient instruments that were used to navigate the high seas.

Flip the watch over to view the Miyota 8219 self-winding movement. Beating at 3 Hz (21,600 vph) and with enough juice when fully wound to run for 40 hours, this Japanese workhorse is a reliable movement used in plenty of entry-level mechanical watches. The watch is paired with an Italian leather strap fitted with a tang buckle.

It took the team 8 months to firm up the project

Thanks to a case that’s just 12.75 mm thick and 38 mm wide, the timepiece is extremely comfortable on the wrist. The regulator design is a throwback to a bygone era and there is a certain vintage charm to this watch. However, if I had to nit-pick, I would bring your attention to the poor legibility on the dial, especially on the degree scale where the numbers bunch up towards the end. The semi-spherical crown is not the easiest to grasp and feels a bit fragile when the crown is pulled out to adjust the time and date. Hopefully, these issues will be sorted out on the final production pieces.

Neptune seen here on a leather Nato strap

Quibbles aside, this is a quirky proposition and considering the price (the range starts at $199), it’s good to see a Dubai-based Kickstarter project trying something unique in the crowdfunding space. To find out more information or to see the campaign visit www.fund-apollo.com.