If there’s one thing that reviewers of The Twelve agree on, it’s the quality of the bracelet. In the third and final article on The Twelve, we talk to CW’s Swiss CEO Jörg Bader Senior and designer Will Brackfield about the process of turning the dream of a perfect bracelet into reality
How important was the bracelet to The Twelve project?
Jörg Bader Sr: At the start, I said: “Let’s begin with the bracelet,” because I had a ton of experience from a young age with integrated bracelets. I started my career working for a Japanese bracelet ‘manufacture’ that was a key supplier to the Seiko group. At that time, there were only integrated watches!
So you took this experience into the construction of the watch?
JB: I said to Jörg Junior [head of production, Biel] and Adrian Buchmann [CW head of design]: “Let me design the bracelet. I know about manufacturing, pricing and how we can do something outstanding – without it costing too much.” I took the initial design, which I’d done on millimetre paper, to a meeting with Adrian at the Japan House cultural centre in London. We went from there.
“I said: ‘Let me design the bracelet... I can do something outstanding’”
Will. What was your view?
Will Brackfield: The overarching idea was to reduce the bracelet’s complexity to increase its quality. For example, we decided not to go for a centre link: doing this meant we could use bigger facets on the links, with more opportunity to catch the light. If we’d had to finish a centre link that would have cost more money, and we’d have had to make sacrifices elsewhere.
JB: The signature of the bracelet is the taper in the centre. The links are stamped by a machine from a big sheet of metal. But there’s a drawback. The horizontal lines had to be individually machined, processed and polished to achieve the quality we wanted. No stamping machine can do that. The links don’t just taper on the outside, but on the inside, too. And that makes the bracelet very attractive.
Tell us about the butterfly clasp...
WB: The reason we chose the butterfly clasp was because we’d spent so long integrating the case and bracelet. We wanted the lines to continue – so the butterfly clasp allows the bracelet to flow rather than be broken up by a diver’s clasp. And the butterfly clasp is also shorter, so the bracelet is more comfortable to wear.
And of course, Jörg, you invented the butterfly clasp!
JB: Yes, I was working in Japan at the time, but as all the machines we used for it were only in Japan, I never actually patented the idea. On The Twelve, the butterfly clasp is the perfect solution because nothing interrupts the curved lines of the bracelet, plus it makes the watch super- easy to remove.
Will. What did you learn from 3D-printing two watch models?
WB: On the first 3D model we found the links were too fine – too short. The bracelet didn’t feel premium enough. With the second model we increased the size of the links, which meant we could increase the size of the facets, and thus increase the polishing. We don’t often do polished facets on bracelets, so it’s a real achievement at the price point.
Does the bracelet have CW’s quick-release system?
WB: Yes, though this was a challenge. We had to integrate it into the case, not the bracelet, as there’s a ‘male’ link from the bracelet. You’ve only got so much room between the spring bars and the movement. To shorten the lug-to-lug measurement but also keep the spring bars of the system was hard. But it’s worth it – and you can release the bracelet easily from the case.
How do you feel about it now?
JB: I think it’s perfect. It’s my baby! It doesn’t disturb the bezel or the case – it’s like a supporting actor, one that doesn’t take the limelight. To be considered a ‘blue chip’ watch brand you have to distinguish yourself with a bracelet – and that’s what we’ve done here. The tapering is so important, as is the finishing. Having to cut the horizontal edges and then to polish them to that level is not for everybody. But it is for Christopher Ward!
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