First of all, this watch is not for everyone. Some of you won’t like it, some may even have strong opinions about it. You have to look further: it’s about having the guts to design. This doesn’t look like a ‘normal’ watch, but how boring would the world be if all watches looked the same?
If we didn’t have the weirdo’s who designed the Lamborghini Muira in the sixties, we would all drive Fiat Multipla’s now (If you are from America, don’t Google that). Thank God that didn’t happen.
How I met David
This story starts at Baselworld 2019. If you have read Spotted: Karsten Frassdorf Spirograph, you know I’m a huge sucker for independent watch brands. Brands like Rolex and Patek Philippe just keep making the same watches in different colors, different case materials and different bracelet combinations. Movement wise they keep innovating, but aesthetically they stay the same.
That’s why I always like to visit the independents, the guys who have the balls to try new things. And that’s why I was particularly happy with the new area at Baselworld, ‘The Watch Incubator’, a floor dedicated to small, new independent watchmakers.
This is were I met David. His booth jumped out to me because it was… empty. The Swatch group spends tens of millions of euro’s on booths for Baselworld, while David Rutten just had a small table, one watch and a weird rock.
I started chatting with David and his associate Malik. We started talking about the Steamline, a jump hour watch made from meteorite. Turns out the ‘weird rock’ he brought was a big piece of meteorite.
We stayed in touch after Baselworld, and they decided to send me a Steamline prototype to test for a few days.
The meteorite case
The meteorite they use for the case is Muonionalusta, and was found in Laponia in 1904. They chose this specific piece because the pattern is very geometric. Also, for those saying that a full meteorite case is impossible, this octahedrite is found fairly common (of course considering the ultra-rarity context of the meteorite market). David does a lot of work on the case himself, like cutting, polishing, chemical treatments, etc.
The Steamline is powered by its own DR01 movement. But where does this movement come from?
David joined forces with Christopher Ward to design the movement.
The base movement is the SH21 from Ward, to which they adapted a jumping hour. It’s an exclusive configuration, of which they are very proud.
How does it wear
The watch wears big, but doesn’t bother. The case is 37mm, but hugs your wrist well and sits there surprisingly comfortable.
It draws a LOT of attention. If you think Day-Dates scream for attention, this is a whole different level. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t scream in a blingy way, it’s more of a conversation starter. More in a ‘woah what’s that’ way.
At first, I was scared that the watch would be ‘too much’ for me. Surprisingly enough, it’s excellent for daily use. I have worn it with a suit, in sweatpants and in swimming shorts. This statement piece wears with everything.
The thing that fascinates me the most is the price. Most independent watches with an inhouse movement and special case material have prices with 6 digits. Urwerks and Richard Milles, with which the Steamline shares some design elements (sorry David) have prices well over €100.000. The Steamline? Not even a tenth of that price. Pre orders are around €9.000.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying €9.000 is pocket change, but let’s put things in perspective: a new steel Rolex Submariner Date is almost €8.000, and a two tone Datejust 41 is €12.000. These are amazing watches, but you are not wearing a ‘special’ or rare watch, let alone be the highlight of a get together.
For who are these watches?
Steamlines aren’t for one-watch-people. They are for people who have a nice collection and want to explore the world in independents, but don’t want to spend 100k on an Urwerk or an MB&F. It’s the holy middle ground to explore the crazy world of independents. It’s also an excellent way to wear an independent without carrying the value of a small house.
Thanks again David and Malik for lending me this exceptional timepiece.