The Bible talks about beating swords into plowshares, but what about Kalashnikovs into timepieces? Swiss watchmaker Fonderie 47’s Inversion Principle has done just that with a luxury watch made in part from the steel of a deactivated AK-47 assault rifle and subtle design cues from the firearm. According to the company, part of the watch’s price goes toward helping to disarm and aid Africa.
The Fonderie 47 (its name derived from the French for “foundry” and AK-47) Inversion Principle was designed by Adrian Glessing and created by David Candaux/Du Val Des Bois for manufacture in La Vallée de Joux, Switzerland. In its design, Fonderie 47 avoided any obvious firearm-related design cues in favor of a more subtle approach with the most obvious clue being the abstract gold frame over the sapphire crystal inspired by an AK-47 gunsight. Instead, the design is based on how a gun mechanism moves rather than looks.
The Inversion Principle’s most eye-catching point is that is has no conventional hands. As an alternative, there’s a three-minute flying tourbillon movement in the center of the dial with a gold counter weight and curved to follow sapphire crystal, which turns three second hands spaced 120° apart around the tourbillon cage.
These hands turn at only one-third the speed of a normal second hand, so one minute is marked of on only a third the translucent glass dial. As each hand records a minute, it passes out of sight and is immediately replaced by the next at the start of the arc. In addition, a large minute hand pointer records the minutes across 240° of the bottom of the dial, and the hours appear as numerals in a window at the 12 o’clock position.
The “gun” part of the whole motif is in how the 38-jewel Caliber F47-001 movement with a Breguet overcoil works. Firearm mechanisms tend to snap instantly from one position to another and while the tourbillon and second hand have a sedate feel, the hours snap into place in an all-or-nothing movement and the retrograde minute hand snaps back at the end of each hour like a pistol cocking. This is further reflected in the quick-set mechanism, where a press of the crown triggers a ratchet to make the hours jump forward one by one.
The watch also has two six-day power reserve indicators. One on the reverse looks quite conventional, but there’s a second quick-glance meter behind the sapphire crystal window on the side of the case that looks like the spent-cartridge ejector on an AK-47.
Meanwhile, on the back of the watch, is a dark plate at the base of the sunray guilloche pattern. This rotating plate is made from the steel from a destroyed AK-47 and bears not only the Fonderie 47 logo, but the serial number “56-3701F42,” which is that of the rifle the steel came from.
The Inversion Principle comes in a choice of 18k white gold or 18k red gold case measuring 42 mm x 14.6 mm and is water resistant to 30 m (100 ft, 3 ATM). It comes with with a hand-stitched alligator strap with matching gold pin buckle, or a brown or black leather strap to match the red gold case white gold case respectively.
With millions of assault weapons in Africa, Fonderie 47 says that it created the Inversion Principle expressly to combat the problem with part of the proceeds from sale of the upmarket watch going toward the destruction of assault rifles in Africa. According to Fonderie 47, over 30,000 AK-47s have been destroyed to date.
"Inversion Principle had to reflect the finest Swiss watchmaking traditions, our principles and our mission, and be truly innovative all at the same time," says Fonderie 47 founder Peter Thum. "That was no easy task, but thanks to a great team, I think we well and truly achieved that aim.”
The Inversion Principle is available in a limited edition of 20 pieces with 10 of each case. The price is US$195,000.
Source: Fonderie 47
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