Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Laco RAD-AUX Auxiliary Observer Watch

German watch brand Laco has teamed up with online wrist-watch enthusiast publication aBlogtoWatch (ABTW) to develop a post-apocalyptic, conceptual art-watch. The concept itself is a tribute to Laco's watchmaking history, and a nod to the video game Fallout by Bethesda Game Studios.

When ABTW Founder Ariel Adams discovered a potential to develop a watch for historic German watch brand Laco, he approached ABTW contributor, friend, and designer Matt Smith-Johnson with the opportunity. Laco’s unique “Erbstück” line of watches presented an interesting creative outlet. The watches could be rapidly aged to look like storied vintage pieces, so combining their love of horology and gaming culture, they decided to design a watch around the storytelling of Fallout. Crossing the distinctive atompunk aesthetic and post-apocalyptic lore of the game with Laco’s brand history resulted in the “RAD-AUX” Auxiliary Observer. Limited to 143 pieces, the Laco RAD-AUX is the crown jewel of the Erbstück series, both looking and feeling like a watch that has survived multiple catastrophes. It has the appearance of an in-game item, yet it is a functional timepiece you can wear.

Fallout players will be familiar with the electrically powered Personal Information Processor, or “Pip-Boy”: A device worn on the wrist that offers crucial information about the dystopian nuclear wasteland players must navigate throughout the game. The Laco RAD-AUX is envisioned as a partial mechanical backup to the Pip-Boy. Used in conjunction with a rad-meter (or radiation dosimeter) you could calculate the rate of fallout after a nuclear event, and relay tolerable exposure times to other survivors. Users can also reference a radiation exposure guide, engraved on the RAD-AUX case back.

“It wasn’t difficult to imagine a watch that myself and other enthusiasts would like – what was difficult was creating something beautiful, unique, and inspired that didn’t feel like a cheesy Fallout souvenir,” recalls Ariel. “I wanted a watch that both horology and sci-fi fans could actually wear, without feeling like they were dressing up for cosplay,” adds Matt.

The cases, hands, and dials of the Laco RAD-AUX have been hand-aged and highly patinated by a single specialized Laco technician in Pforzheim, Germany, using a proprietary rapid-aging technique. This closely guarded technical process takes countless hours for each case, dial, and hand set.

This rugged mechanical timepiece is fully equipped for the rough-and-tumble life of a Fallout survivor. Containing a Swiss automatic movement (ETA 2824.2) with 38hr power reserve and hacking seconds feature, this watch will keep moving as long as you do. The 42mm diameter case has features a 20mm lug width and 13mm thickness. A sapphire crystal treated with anti-reflective coating ensures crisp dial legibility, even in post-apocalyptic conditions.

Laco also worked with prop-makers, printers, and artisans in the United States and Canada to create an immersive presentation for this watch, complete with weathered artifacts that look like they could have been lifted from the Fallout game. The straps have been hand-crafted in the USA from leather and vintage German parachute canvas, each individually treated to match the weathered look of the RAD-AUX.

Each Laco RAD-AUX timepiece is presented in a tin-box, weathered by a prop maker, and the accompanying printed materials have also received a weathered treatment. By examining the watch and included “artifacts,” collectors can decipher the dystopian adventure the watch has endured. Only 143 of these unique collectors’ items will ever be produced, and they are available online now.

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More photographs of the watch.

Photographs: Laco

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