Barrelhand is a United States based watch company which is planning for the market launch of its debut mechanical watch collection in 2018. Founded by Karel Bachand, the company’s flagship product, the Barrelhand Project 1 is currently under prototype stage.
Karel Bachand’s horology adventure began in 2014 when he made a stunning homage watch of URWERK UR-202.
Impressed by his passion and talent, Urwerk’s co-founders Felix Baumgartner and Martin Frei invited him to meet them at SIHH 2015 haute-horlogerie exhibition in Geneva where he got the opportunity to explore modern mechanical horology complications created by URWERK. This memorable meeting with the Team URWERK inspired Karel Bachand to create his own watch company.
Taking inspiration from Sci-fi designs of 1960s/70s as well as the unconventional- mechanical horological projects undertaken by contemporary brands such as HYT and URWERK, Karel Bachand loved to develop unique time display complications in-house using the most modern advancements in 3D printing and significantly reduce traditional R&D costs.
For the past 2 years Barrelhand Timepieces has been documenting the entire process of the Project 1, from initial sketch all the way to prototyping and manufacturing. The Barrelhand Project 1 features a 12 point Geneva jump hour and a linear cam path minute system both of which are being developed in-house.
|Sketch – Barrelhand Project 1 – Top View|
Project 1 is currently on its prototype stage and is set to release a small production of full metal examples at the end of 2017. Unique time displays have long been reserved to the six-figure range due to the amount of time and funding required in creating new movements and complications. Each timepiece will be designed, prototyped, assembled, and tested in California.
|Barrelhand Project 1 Prototype|
The project began during the developments of a new method to display minutes linearly. Linear minutes have been done in the past on other haute Horlogerie brands such as HYT’s H3; however, the mechanism to actuate it was to be entirely different. The inspiration came from a vinyl record and how the needle follows a groove to slowly makes its way towards the center of the album. Using this design, a cam curvature was calculated which could glide a pin up and down to linearly display minutes. This path is engraved into the cam plate and rotates around, creating a beautiful dance of motion which spans the whole dial of the timepiece.
|Barrelhand Project 1 Prototype|
Research and development is one of the most costly and time consuming phases of watchmaking, especially when developing new in house complications. For this reason, the entire project is being prototyped using the latest in UV cured 3D printing technology. This allows us to prototype precision components at nearly a tenth of the cost of traditional manufacturing. By minimizing prototyping costs and machine time the project can be completed with maximum value to the end product.
|Barrelhand Project 1 Prototype|
Barrelhand Timepieces continues to research the newest advancements in 3D printed steel, titanium and ceramic. The technology is still in its infancy but will play a major role in the watchmaking industry as precision and selection of materials continues to increase. Being at the forefront of these modern materials provides new pathways in part geometries and manufacturing once impossible with traditional methods.
|Sketch of Complication Module|
Each project carries a story far removed from standard watchmaking and will be documenting the entire process publicly from early sketches to production and everything in between. This transparency allows people to see exactly what they are getting and all the work that goes into each piece. Documentation also gives the wearer a deeper understanding of their timepiece and prevents unjustified profit mark ups we are all too familiar with in this industry.
Barrelhand Project 1: Special Features
Linear Minute System
This method of actuating the minutes had not been attempted prior, thus many challenges arose during its development.
Different curvatures were tested to maximize the traveling distance while minimizing the contact angle. Another challenge is assuring that the force remains constant throughout the trajectory as the pin is pushed up and down in the path.
Constant force is critical in timekeeping thus with the use of simple torque calculations these changes could be minimized. As the pin of the linear guide gets further from the central axis, the contact angle is reduced. Likewise, as the pin travels closer to the center of the movement its contact angle increases. Two things can be achieved by doing this: constant torque throughout a full rotation, and a linear display that tracks the minutes accurately.
The linear minute guide glides upon two stainless steel rails, indicating 0-30 minutes on its way down and 30-60 minutes on its way back up. The linear minute guide has an underside pin which tracks the groove of the rotating cam plate.
Geneva Gear Intermittent Hour
One of the setbacks to traditional jump hours is that they are comprised of many components and the time cannot be set backwards. The Geneva gear has been used in watchmaking for centuries, mainly for date complications or wandering hours. By implementing this mechanism, the number of components needed was reduced tenfold while allowing the time to be set both forward and backward.
The equations needed for designing Geneva gears are relatively simple, however they become much more complex the smaller the gear is scaled and as you increase the number of points the gear needs.
Most Geneva gears have 4-5 points however in this case 12 were needed, 1 for each hour. The issue with this is that as you add more points, your gear gets more and more intricate and the walls become much thinner. It took vast amounts of time for fine tuning the Geneva gear dimensions to optimize durability and reduce friction.
DMLS Crown Release System
To continue the retro-futuristic theme the crown is designed to sit at the top of the watch, housed within a 10-piece rocket-thruster assembly. Instead of prying the crown to pull it out, the crown release system allows the wearer to adjust the time with the simple flick of a switch.
The concept is simple but gives the wearer functional interactions with the watch which is one of my main attractions to mechanical timepieces. By sliding the lever out, the crown is disengaged and goes from winding mode to time setting mode.
The entire crown release system is manufactured using the most modern DMLS Steel 3D printers commercially available. These machines start out with a large bed full of ultra-fine steel powder. An ytterbium laser then targets and binds this powder layer by layer until you have your final component. What you are left with is a finish unique to every piece. This component gives the wearer a unique tactile experience with an exterior mechanism fully 3D printed in stainless steel.
DMLS Embedded Lugs
The timepiece itself is 44mm wide, and its wearability is further increased by reducing the lug to lug distance. On most 44mm watches, lug distance is around 50-55mm due to the length the lugs need to extend out of the case for the strap to move freely. The lug distance on this timepiece however is only 44mm as the rear lug is embedded within the actual case. Thus, the watch sits similarly to a 38 mm watch and a slight curvature follows the entire Caseback adding to its comfort.
Each timepiece will come fitted with a handmade custom strap crafted from locally sourced American Bison leather. On top of this custom steel lug inserts were added to prevent wear on the leather. The back of the strap is then lined with Alcantara, a suede-like material often found in exotic sports cars.
Model: Barrelhand Project 1
Note: Project 1 is a made to order timepiece featuring unique time display complications developed in-house
Heavily modified Swiss Eterna 3901m
60-hour power reserve
28,800 v.p.h / 4 Hz movement
Linear cam path minutes
Geneva gear intermittent hour
Manual winding with single mainspring barrel
Direct METAL LASER SINTERED (DMLS) steel crown release system
Linear cam path minutes
Geneva gear intermittent hours
DMLS steel crown release housing
DMLS steel lugs
High Polish steel upper case
Satin gunmetal steel lower case
Dimensions: 44mm x 15mm
Number of components: 28
Water resistance: 3 atm
Hand stitched American Bison leather
DMLS steel lug insert
Alcantara micro suede backing
Limited Edition of 100 pieces
Project Updates (Informed by the brand)
08 April 2020: The brand completes the R&D of Project 1, thanks to 6 years of R&D, 36 prototypes, and with the involvement of some of the most talented artisans from USA, Germany and Switzerland.
07 May 2020: Project 1 is getting ready for launch. Grade 5 titanium case assembly is complete and currently doing final testing/finishes on all the internals.
10 June 2020: Working on finishes, lume, and final testing for all the internal mechanisms.
25 June 2020: Project 1 reservation deposits are being rescheduled to open July 31st. Still have a few finishes to complete like forging glow lume insert application to the camplate, adding magnifier to the color indicator, adding lume tip to minute guide, creating new rear lug R and screw finishes.
29 July 2020: Project 1 is complete. The final piece has passed all inspections/testing. The brand will be starting production of the first 10 timepieces at the end of the month.
[Note: The collection will be limited to 20 pieces. Price: 30,000 USD]