“Made in California, USA” is not something one would expect to see too often on a high end watch, however as seen with many things made in America, this American made piece certainly makes a statement.
The Tread 1, from which this Group 63 Edition is largely based, was nominated for the esteemed GPHG (Gran Prix d’Horlogerie de Genéve) in the category of Design and Concept Watch back in 2010.
Although very similar in size and configuration to the original Tread 1, this Group 63 takes things a bit further, adding bold colour and inspirations from the high end and sporting automotive industry.
Owner and CEO of Devon Works, Scott Devon, explains the driving force behind the Tread 1:
This technology is adapted directly out of the cockpits of modern airliners like the Boeing 747 where these same belts were used in avionics packages to indicate vital measurements, such as airspeed and fluid levels. In the aerospace industry people go to work every day to make the impossible happen and working with California-based talent means our timepieces are wholly developed and manufactured in the U.S. thereby capturing the unique character of American dreams.
Face & case
At 53mm wide and 50mm high, the main frame of the case is in 316L stainless steel, finished in true black DLC coating and with a brush/ghost finish.
The large “lugs” aren’t lugs in the traditional sense, but more of a heavy duty, industrial looking construction, formed from carbotech and bolted together to complete the contrasted appearance of the case. The coarbotech areas are fixed to the steel frame and the strap is held in place with small allen key screws.
Carbotech is made from thin sheets of carbon fibers, which are compressed at a controlled temperature under high pressure together with a high-end polymer – this then binds the fibres to make it even stronger and more durable. The carbon fibres used in this process are very long in order give a uniform look; the sheets are then compressed in such a way that the fibres of each layer are set at a different angle to the ones above and below it – this is what produces the stripy appearance which varies according to the cut of the material. No two pieces of carbotech will ever look the same.
Moving into the case innards and there is no dial as such, but a busy assortment of motors, belts, cogs, screws and a metal indicator plate sitting on top of it all, with the brand DEVON clearly visible as part of it, at the top left.
The indicator plate is in anodised black and frames the numbers used to read the current hour, minute and seconds from a series of interwoven black belts, with red numbers.
These belts, which appear to almost be floating in mid air, comprise 2 horizontal belts (hour and constant ticking seconds) and 2 diagonally running across them (both to indicate minutes), are made from fibreglass reinforced nylon belts, which are only 2/1000ths of an inch thick (or thin); this technology is used in modern aircraft, such as Boeing 747s.
Four anodised red motor covers can be seen, which house the motors used to power the cogs; which ultimately move the time indicating belts.
An onboard microprocessor controls all of the functions. This continuously gathers and monitors data from a temperature-compensated crystal and a proprietary optical recognition system, ensuring the belts accuracy at all times. In addition, lubricant-free ruby bearings are used at key points.
Power is provided by a lithium-polymer rechargeable battery, which can run for up to two weeks on a charge. Recharging is hassle free, handled inductively on a custom made charger stand, with no wires going to the watch; fully charged in only a few hours.
Surrounding all the moving parts, tiny silver mounting screws can be seen in the background, which hold everything down to the main chassis.
A curved sheet of high tech, polycarbonate crystal is the (scratch resistant) window into the intelligent technology that keeps the time.
As with the rest of the Tread 1 Group 63, the crown is large. It is mainly anodised red, with black in the grip grooves and on the end, where the Devon Works logo can be seen embossed on the end.
The crown has multiple functions and is ultimately a micro-switch, rather than a mechanical crown. To power the watch on, push the crown in and it will automatically set the time to the current time (even though the watch has been off, the computer has been doing timekeeping in the background to save having to set the watch every time you power it on). If the time is needing changed, turning the crown clockwise will change the minutes and turning the crown anti-clockwise will change the hours.
By a long press of the crown, the watch will power off, resetting the time display back to 12.00. During this time, the second belt is used as a battery life indicator. 0 is dead, 10 is 100% charged.
Turning the watch over and it’s a solid black stainless case, with 4 screws holding it down. In the centre is a plate providing information on the brand and watch, not dissimilar to a VIN number plate or other identifier badge.
Devon Works Group 63 Case Back
The movement is a patented system of micro motors and interwoven time belts, displaying hours, minutes and seconds. The belt assemblies are mounted on a central chassis, allowing not only the belts to move with plenty clearance, but also giving the appearance the belts are moving in mid air.
Although highly engineered, the parts have been assembled to ensure little to no need for lubrication and significantly reduces potential required maintenance.
Micro-step motors allow for precision accuracy, which is within half a second per day.
The strap, which as mentioned before, is fixed in place with allen key screws on a proprietary system, is in black leather with a red diamond pattern stitch; similar to stitching seen in high-end car seat design. The lining is in bright red, soft alcantara (alcantara is often used in luxury car interiors too).
The buckle is a red anodised wide pin buckle, with a straight brushed effect and the DEVON logo engraved to one side, offset from the centre.
Devon are based in California. Their timepieces are developed and manufactured 100% in the United States.
They were in fact, the first American watch manufacturer ever to receive a nomination for the GPHG (Gran Prix d’Horlogerie de Genéve), which is an amazing achievement in itself.
All of their engineering masterpieces are created within Devon’s own design lab, which is dedicated to creating innovative luxury products that exemplify the American spirit and confidently assumes a clear vision of watch design.
Unique functionality almost totally reinvents the watch and in fact the telling of time; reaching beyond the boundaries of traditional watchmaking.
The Devon Works Tread 1 Group 63 certainly looks very different in almost every sense and I expect you will either love it, or hate it.
It’s big, black and red, has automotive design inspiration (including carbon composite parts) and everyone can hear you coming when you’re wearing it – what’s not to like?
If you haven’t seen a Tread 1 in person, you wouldn’t know how loud the movement is, but you can hear every second tick; and when each minute or hour comes along, you find yourself stopping to watch and listen to it happen. Powering the Group 63 on and off is a bit of an eventful treat too, as all the motors and belts move neatly one after the other, making quite a noise.
There’s no denying that this is a big watch though, at well over 50mm square and 19mm thick, it looks a monster off the wrist. When worn, it’s appearance reduces in size, doesn’t feel heavy at all and actually sits surprisingly well on the wrist, thanks to the downward angled strap connection system. Do expect to be showing it off all the time though, as getting it under most cuffs could be a challenge.
With a price of $25,000 USD, owners will probably not care too much about the price tag and just want to own the watch. They will need to be quick though, as with only 63 pieces being made, I don’t expect they will be available for long.
Many in the haute horology world will likely have a few negative things to say about the nonconformist “creation” and unique functionality of the Tread 1, however I am not one of them. I actually admire the audacity and really do like the end result.
Also available to purchase directly from us – please get in touch to place your order.