As much as we all loved the 17.01 – the team as a whole felt that there were a lot of possibilities to improve overall quality and design even further with the next watch. There are still some design choices made to keep pricing at a sensible level, but effectively every single component has been reconsidered and upgraded. Today’s post details the ten major changes and improvements over the 17.01.
The movement had to change due to desired functionality – automatic with second timezone – and in the process, we’ve gone up a grade to a modified Sellita SW-330. This also allowed us to keep nearly the same case thickness as the 17.01.
The case is now produced by a different supplier; one who normally works with watches in a price category 2-3x and above. All primary shaping and secondary finishing operations (including on the crown and bracelet endpieces) are fully automated through CNC machines with extremely tight (10 micron) tolerances. We needed this level of consistency to ensure bracelet endpieces are 100% interchangeable and fit perfectly.
The lugs are slightly longer and profiled differently to accommodate straight springbars. We believe wearing comfort has also improved as the watch sits a little lower on most wrists with the lugs conforming more closely to the contours of the wrist. There are two sets of holes to accommodate MING-spec quick release curved bar straps, as well as the bracelet or third party straight straps. The lugs are also marked accordingly to prevent confusion.
Material is now grade 2 (i.e. pure) titanium instead of the grade 5 Ti-Al-V alloy of the 17.01 and 19.01; this is an aesthetic choice rather than a technical one. We wanted the 17.03 to have a sportier all-brushed aesthetic; the slightly darker gray of grade 2 titanium vs brighter grade 5 was desired. All metal components except for a portion of the butterfly buckle on the bracelet and the bracelet screws (which are stainless steel) are grade 2 titanium. Even the caseback screws are titanium and have been treated with a special anodization to prevent metal to metal contact welding over time.
A matching bracelet was designed from scratch – it has many short links and articulation points to conform comfortably to all wrist shapes, and two link sizes to allow adjustment in 3mm increments on either side. It has very tight tolerances for minimal sag and a solid feel, with the thinnest, most unobtrusive clasp we could find. Overall weight distribution between head and bracelet was also considered – the watch sits where you want it to on the wrist, and doesn’t flop around. As supplied, it will also fit a very wide range of wrist sizes comfortably. We also include a screwdriver for size adjustment.
The crystal now has a 5-layer antireflective coating on both sides; we found a supplier that met our requirements for consistency of the coating. The sapphire donut on the dial remains uncoated for differentiation of texture.
Luminous material has both changed and increased in quantity – we use a 30-layer coating process on the sapphire donut to build up the material to a thickness of 0.3mm. The hands are skeletonized initially and have a central reservoir for luminous material, with the hour hand having a different pattern for easy differentiation.
The straps supplied with the 17.03 are now nubuck and softer (but still padded). We also include a buckle in grade 2 titanium to match the case.
The travel pouch is no longer a simple suede slip – it’s now a handmade calf leather item that has storage space for multiple straps or watches, the included bracelet tool, and a workspace for changing straps.
Even the packaging has been improved. In the interests of reducing our footprint, the box is now smaller and made of recycled local wood; the interior is not partitioned so you can always repurpose it for storing other items.
In a series of upcoming posts, I’ll address design choices and challenges in designing a good bracelet in detail. We also have some behind-the-scenes material from the production and assembly of the 17.03… so stay tuned.