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Paolo Mathai ‘Pure Carbon’

Back in 2014 after writing about horology for a few years I decided to design my own watch. Even though many of the high end watchmakers are creating incredible concepts, entry level timepieces (at the time) seemed pretty bland by comparison. Effectively you can buy a generic stock watch from a Chinese manufacturer, customise the dial with your logo and establish a label. Certainly, there is a market for this type of timepiece but I wanted to adopt a more experimental and inventive approach. That is why I drew inspiration from a clock devised by famous industrial designer George Nelson. The result was a completely bespoke watch called the Polaris. Subsequently this piece featured in Esquire Magazine (Singapore/Malaysia) and a book I wrote for Schiffer Publishing called ‘Limited Edition Watches’.

My primary motive for making the Polaris was to get an insight into the watch industry and process of developing a new watch. However, after a visit to Baselword in 2015 (and many positive comments) I floated the idea of producing this timepiece as a limited edition. As this can be an expensive process I needed a financial backer. Unfortunately, the industry was just about to experience a turbulent period. Therefore, I put the idea on hold, continued writing books and decided to create another new watch called the ‘Pure Carbon’.

Originally my idea was to produce a carbon version of the Polaris. I approached a renowned specialist Swiss manufacturer for assistance. They quoted in the region of $15,000 which was unrealistic as I only had a limited budget. Therefore, I had to find a more viable and affordable alternative. Fortunately, one of my Adelaide based friends Ben Birkett saved the day and together we radically changed the design of the ‘Pure Carbon’. As well as being a master watchmaker, Ben also runs a highly successful watch restoration business. Certainly without his generosity and expertise this project would never have seen the light of day. It is also pertinent to mention Belgian engineer, Thomas Mond’s vital contribution. He was employed in the latter stages of development and spent many laborious hours machining the watch case in Ben’s workshop.

With a diameter measuring 67mm (excluding the crown) this is the largest carbon fiber watch in the world. However, due to the lightweight materials, contoured case design and articulated lugs it feels exceptionally comfortable to wear. I decided on the name of ‘Pure Carbon’ because it is the only timepiece (I’m aware of) that has 3-dimensional carbon hands. This feature was created by Austrian craftsman Ingomar Gaksch and involved several attempts because of the intricacy. Other unique details include a unique geometric brushed steel skeletonized dial (Unitas 6497-1) seemingly floating black onyx spherical markers and ornate carbon fiber crown.

As a finishing touch Ingomar Gaksch also created a bespoke racing style leather strap with oversized solid carbon tang buckle.

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