Is the Astbury & Kent Stellaris Flying Tourbillon here to shake things up a bit? The English designed watch is a modern looking, minimalist timepiece, with a big tourbillon heart and (relatively) small price tag.
You may not be familiar with the brand, however the founders of Astbury & Kent are a couple of self proclaimed watch nuts and have both been in the industry for a number of years. One of the founders, Terrence Ray Flores, was actually the man behind the design of the Aston Martin tourbillon, a timepiece to celebrate the release of the new Aston Martin Valkyrie super car.
The idea of the Stellaris, was to release an everyday flying tourbillon which was not only different looking to the more traditional pieces, but also at a more attainable price point than a Swiss made flying tourbillon. Terrence explains in a bit more detail:
Most tourbillons are very candelabra looking and a bit dated for many, that is why we have gone for a NEW more modern look using bold colours and a simple minimalist design. The all new AK735 model takes many references from my other passion, that of “physics” especially in connection to the cosmos. So you will see little bits of inspiration taken form the the cosmos and a passion for “LIGHT, GRAVITY & TIME” are linked in one way or another. The overall look is reminiscent of the dark but bold colours of the cosmos, together with the subtle look of the hour markers.
Face & case
The case of the Astbury & Kent Stellaris shown is in 316 stainless steel and at 42.5mm, it definitely appears to be bigger than that – probably due to the highly polished surfaces bouncing light from all angles.
Sitting below sapphire crystal, the dial is in sunburst blue, phasing from silver/white in the centre, out to a dark navy blue at the edges and also catches the light nicely, appearing to shift colours depending on the angle you look at it from.
There are delicate, round, rhodium plated hour markers raised slightly on the dial at each hour close to the bezel. A small power reserve indicator with 7 white dot markers sits neatly at 9 o’clock and the “AK” logo is at 12 o’clock; but what really makes it, is the show stopper at 6 o’clock – the flying tourbillon.
The flying tourbillon dances around, rotating every 60 seconds and is fully visible through a large aperture in the dial. When I say large, I mean large, as the tourbillon is probably more than a third of the diameter of the watch – you will also notice that the hands have been bumped up a few millimetres, meaning they are not centred vertically on the dial, to make room for the exhibition piece.
The hands are blade like, fat at the centre, pointing out to the edges. Unlike many traditional tourbillon hands, there is actually a single line of lume down the centres of each of the hands, which is another modern touch – this is even the case on the tiny power reserve indication hand!
The crown is shaped almost like a “flat onion” and fluted for grip. There is a dark blue semi precious Zircon shaped and polished like a round diamond inlaid on the end of the crown – it also changes to light blue and slightly opaque as the light catches it.
The screw down case back is also transparent, providing an exhibition view of a few of the moving parts of the movement, as well as the formal looking main plate. The plate has a wide horizontal pinstripe effect, which reminds me of a few other top end watchmakers finishing techniques. There are 3 skeletonized sections of 2-3 mm, about the same diameter as the tourbillon, which allows a peek through to see some of the moving cogs and wheels.
Each piece will be numbered, however unsure where this will be located as there is not a lot of room – perhaps on the sapphire crystal itself.
Surprisingly, the Astbury & Kent Stellaris Flying Tourbillon does not feature a Swiss Movement, but a hand wound movement sourced in the far east.
The Flying Tourbillon oscillates at 28,800 vph and rotates 360 degrees every minute. With 27 jewels and made up from 197 parts, it’s heart beats at 4hz, which should mean great accuracy.
Once the Stellaris is fully wound, expect around 72h power reserve, so should be good for 3 days.
Apparently the piece has been tested to be water resistant to 5ATM (around 50m), but I am not too sure how many people would be swimming whilst wearing their tourbillon – I suppose if you fall in a pool at a dinner party, at least you know your watch will be OK!!
The bright blue strap is made from alligator leather and features a stainless steel butterfly buckle, with quick release. The brand name clearly engraved “Astbury & Kent” across the width of the highly polished buckle.
Unusually, the strap pins appear curved to follow the shape of the case, which adds another element to the luxury look.
The model I got my hands on is one of 3 limited edition finishes. Here’s what we understand are the options:
- 100 numbered pieces in stainless steel with blue starburst dial (shown in this review)
- 100 numbered pieces in black pvd with black starburst dial
- 95 numbered pieces in black pvd with gold bezel and hands and black starburst dial. Also features real diamond hour markers
Astbury & Kent Stellaris Flying Tourbillon on the Wrist
The Astbury & Kent Stellaris Flying Tourbillon is anything but ordinary. In fact, I would even verge on going down the “special” route.
When I first opened the box, I was immediately intrigued by the simplistic design and bright colours and really love the showcase of a huge tourbillon on view.
I already have statement pieces and also own an exotic blue strap (amongst other colours), so it definitely could have been in my collection. My other half actually said it looks like one I would buy and she is (almost!) always right!!
The watch is well weighted and comfortable. Appearing to be more of a dress watch than anything else, at only 12.5mm thick I am pleased that it will fit under most of my cuffs easily.
The only tiny niggle I could have had, was that the crown could have protruded slightly further from the case for winding, but maybe that’s because I have fat thumbs!
This is a 295 piece limited edition flying tourbillon, available to purchase for £2,900 new. Had this been Swiss, it would probably only be available to purchase for at least 10 times that figure.
The Stellaris still currently has 10 days left to go on Kickstarter, where it is even more unbelievably available for under £2,000.
Will you regret not grabbing this opportunity?