The watch scene isn’t exactly known for startups and small independent watchmakers. In fact, most name-brand watches are created by manufacturers that have been in the business for generations. However, there are exceptions to any rule. Starting as a crowdfunded project, the Igneous Santa Maria could bring a new face and flavor to the timepiece collector’s market. Already having raised $4,701, the creator of the watch – photographer Aritz Bermudez Monfort of Guatemala – is set to enter the custom watch scene by April 2018. But what could possibly be the draw of the watch? What sets it apart from the ever-prevalent luxury timepieces from Swiss craftsmen? Well, this watch boasts a very unique material used in its construction: volcanic rock.
Each Igneous Santa Maria watch will have a dial crafted from a unique piece of volcanic basalt, gathered by hand from the Santa Maria volcano in Guatemala (hence, the name). This type of rock is formed after basaltic lava cools rapidly, and it is a striking material for a watch dial. The dark black color that makes up most of a piece of volcanic basalt is flecked with bits of other metals, like silica and iron. After the rock has been cut and polished, these silver metals shine against the dark basalt, giving a marbled appearance to the dial.
Because each watch will be constructed out of its own piece of basalt, no two Santa Marias will be the same. Each individual piece will tell its own story – and you will know that the watchmaker himself journeyed to the top of a volcano to gather his materials. This watch comes in a bit big at 40mm, but the uniqueness of the piece will make you want to show it off – meaning the size won’t be a problem! In addition, the larger dial allows space for an easily-readable interface.
The numbers on the dial – with the Igneous logo representing the 12 – are an easy-to-distinguish silver color. The hands are also silver – set against the darkness of the basalt, this means that the time can be read at a glance. Another draw of this watch is the lumed hands and markers, meaning you can get the time regardless of lighting conditions.
The Case and Action
This watch uses a brushed steel case, contributing to the light weight and durability of the watch. Cosmetically, the steel is a perfect match to the materials used in the dial. It provides excellent contrast with the darkness of the basalt, accenting the metal flecks in each piece of rock.
The case contains the tried-and-true Seiko NH35 automatic movement. It is a reliable mechanism, and uses a battery for power – so there is no need to wind it. The watch is geared towards adventurers and travelers, so not needing to remember to wind your watch before an amazing day is an attractive draw. Plus, the watch boasts 30 meters of water resistance, ensuring that any accidental submersion (a distinct possibility during an adventure) will not end with the death of the watch.
If you order this watch as a preorder, with an expected debut in April 2018, you will receive the watch itself, along with your choice of strap (brown or black), a travel pouch, and a wooden box engraved with the Igneous logo. In addition, you will receive a “lucky” piece of basalt that is small enough to carry around in your pocket. The watch doesn’t officially exist on the market yet. However, early supporters can purchase the watch for $150 less than the anticipated list price on the Igneous Santa Maria IndieGoGo page.
Not many watches can beat the cool factor of having a piece of volcanic rock strapped to your wrist. Combined with a stylish interface, understated design, and reliable mechanism, the Igneous Santa Maria will likely be a success in the timepiece collector’s market. Plus, in an industry that is completely dominated by big-name manufacturers, this is your chance to support an independent start-up, and help bring a new style to the game. The watch comes in at a great price, so it’s an excellent piece to add to your collection regardless of your income level.
Whether you are a Rolex enthusiast, or you still wear the same digital watch you got at a thrift shop back in 1994, you will certainly be able to appreciate the story behind the creation of the watch. It started with one man, a bit of old lava, and an idea – help it become a reality.
Written by Garrett Parker
Read more posts by Garrett Parker