Singer Track1 -Reimagining horology
Horology, a term derived from the Greek word orologion for timepiece (ora=hour, logos=sense) is both an art and a field for intensive application of engineering. Measuring time and trying to make sense of it, as each era leaves a characteristic mark on our society, has been one of the most motivating endeavours of mankind, for warriors, merchants and sages alike. Watchmakers, half-engineers and half-artisans, balancing between numerical logic and creative ecstasy, have delivered masterpieces; monuments of human progress and ingenuity. One such example is the Singer Track1.
Singer Reimagined has been created to explore the world of high watchmaking. Much like Singer Vehicle Design, the inspiration originates from a charisma to see things differently and a relentless desire to “reinvent the wheel”, in the most sensual, captivating way.
Despite the design cues dating back to the 1970’s, the result is that of a fresh visual impact; almost predated. As one explores the Singer Track1, it unfolds character, ergonomics and finesse, traits of the man behind it; Italian watch designer Marco Borraccino.
Marco Borraccino (left) with Singer Vehicle Design founder and Singer Reimagined co-founder Rob Dickinson, at SVD facilities in Sun Valley, California
Black: Marco, what was the driving force behind the Track 1? You have been a watch designer for a long time. Has this design always been on your mind like the ‘holy grail’ of your art or is it something that formed interacting with Singer Vehicle Design?
MB: I have always been exploring design boundaries in association with improved functionality.
When this collaboration with Singer Vehicle Design came to life, the clear objective for me was to create something visually appealing, yet deeply disruptive, in the same way that a Singer Vehicle Design car is disruptive, with respect to the most iconic sports car ever produced.
Therefore approaching the most iconic watch movement – the chronograph – from a different perspective was a challenge for me; and improving the normally poor readability of elapsed time was the deliverable.
Apart from my involvement with Singer Reimagined, I have been working for several other brands, not only in the field of horology. However, this project was the opportunity to showcase 100% of my aesthetic sense and personal taste.
Black: What makes a timepiece historically important and what are the properties you are looking for in a watch?
MB: Watchmaking is an endless process of improvement. Materials, functions, shapes, ergonomics and so on are all parts of the equation. A historically important watch has to be a kind of reference, an icon, something from which others are inspired. I would say timeless design on one side and an innovative, yet useful function on the other.
Most contemporary watches persist in their reference to very few traditional archetypes. On the other end, there are watches aimed solely at being purely disruptive. What is meaningful to me is to be able to create something that shakes foundations, but does not look scary when you wear it on your wrist. My work is committed to timeless class.
Black: This sounds ideal, but there is also an economic parameter to manufacturing. Can you realistically take all these factors into consideration designing an exclusive watch like the Singer Track1, or are some qualities hard to achieve?
MB: In designing such a watch, everything is a challenge and nothing can be a compromise.
Even though it looks effortless, the Singer Track1 is definitely a “crazy” machine and a very exclusive watch indeed.
The challenge lies in the complexity and in the equilibrium of the entire system. If we were part of a big corporation, this watch would probably never see the light of day. That’s why we did it!
What is exclusive about the Singer Track 1 is the constant research for perfection and the achievement of an exceptional result. We do not make choices basing our judgement on cost efficiency, but on the mere fact that it has to work and look exactly the way we want, at whatever cost.
Black: How are the Singer Vehicle Design customers reacting to the Track 1?
MB: They have been the very first to react in a positive way by placing an order for the watch straight away. They were already familiar with the Singer brand and the values we represent. Some of them even ordered the watch before seeing it. Currently, we are experiencing quite a strong interest from very important watch collectors worldwide. The Singer Track1 is not and never will be an item produced in great numbers. It is therefore normal to attract early-adopters that really understand watchmaking and most important, the intricacies and culture behind this chronograph.
Black: Are there any thoughts for co-promotion?
MB: We regularly present the watch along with the car, as they belong to the same universe. But it is important to note that the watch is not a derivative product of the car. This is not a co-branding exercise. Both Singer Vehicle Design and Singer Reimagined have their own expertise and there is a lot of technology transfer taking place in both directions. This co-existence is naturally constructive, for cars and watches alike. Our venture originates from our shared passion (Rob’s and mine) regarding the objects themselves; not from a marketing plan!
Black: Talking of sharing passion, what is the bond between you and the other two factors in the Track 1 equation; Rob Dickinson and Jean-Marc Wiederrecht?
MB: I admire, love and respect both Rob and Jean-Marc. What they have achieved in their respective fields is simply incredible.
They share the same respect for tradition (in horological and automotive mechanics) and the same grain of virtuosity, when it comes to transforming a dream into reality.
I have been the link between these two incredible individuals and their universes. Due to my passion for both cars and watches, collaborating with them is probably the most natural and rewarding thing I could imagine. When the three of us have a meeting, it looks more like a friend’s reunion rather than a working session.
Black: Which are the happiest moments you take home from this interaction?
MB: I still savour the day I dropped Rob my first email and we started talking about our common passions. This brought discussion to the exclusive watch topic and gave birth to Singer Reimagined.
Then, I can never forget the face of Jean-Marc, when I showed him the very first design of the watch. He almost fell off his chair and later confessed that he was secretly working on the same concept, as the one I had just showed him.
Another great moment was the day we presented Singer Reimagined to the world, a bit more than one year ago in Geneva.
Black: That sounds very rewarding indeed, but what does the Singer Track1 mean to you?
MB: It’s living a dream. It’s exhausting. It’s exciting. It is freedom to do what really matters to me. It’s every day a new challenge.
Black: …and what are your hopes for it?
MB: The way Singer Reimagined was acclaimed from the very beginning has already been overwhelming. My aspiration is to establish the brand as a key player in this niche industry and keep creating machines that arouse passion globally. We have surely left a pretty deep notch already…and to be honest… there’s nothing as exciting and rewarding, as walking into somebody in public places or private occasions, proudly wearing the Singer Track1.
The Singer Track1 Hong Kong Edition, released a few weeks ago rests on my wrist, lighter than I had expected.
It is the pinnacle of human ingenuity. Plasma Electrolytic Oxidation has been applied to the aerospace specification aluminium case, offering a thick ceramic top layer of unprecedented wear and corrosion resistance. The crown and pushers are fashioned out of grade 5 titanium, while their surface is treated with black DLC coating for superior resistance.
In terms of mechanics, the AgenGraphe, the caliber powering the Singer Track1, is worlds apart from any other movement.
To connect the chronograph mechanism to the timekeeping gear train, the AgenGraphe features an innovative clutch mechanism. The coupling is made horizontally, which requires less space, yet its principle is based on the use of friction, just like any vertical clutch.
But technology aside, the Singer Track1 Hong Kong Edition is absolutely mesmerizing.
Black with orange and white details, the contrast, the ergonomic distribution of indications and innovative layout, make the Track1 a remarkably legible and intuitive chronograph.
Balancing between the identifiable Singer Vehicle Design heritage and the advanced manufacturing processes applied, it is safe to say that the Singer Track1 shares characteristics of the world’s great disrupters; it is timeless, yet innovative, half-crazy and half-brilliant.