REIMAGINING CRAFT: 03
The Watch Roll
It's fair to say that prior to the watch roll project none of us owned a decent watch, let alone a collection worthy of dedicated storage. That said, the naive can’t conform, and the ‘future of time travel’ was surely not another rectangular box.
The Triple Watch Roll
The roll out - Single, Double and Triple Watch Rolls
It was our good friend Wei Koh, founder of The Rake and an out-and-proud horologist, who originally set us a challenge to “design the best watch roll in the world” one afternoon in our rented Pitti-Uomo apartment in Florence. He took us through the pitfalls of the various rolls and cases he’d owned over the years and cited what a person needs when transporting half a million pounds worth of watches (…a three-bed house in Walthamstow). Everything was covered from the bugbears of access, to making sure anything we made fitted into a hotel room's top loading safe, something that we were reliably informed a lot of larger cases often struggle to do.
Gathering horological insights from Wei
On researching the market, it became clear that there is no shortage of watch rolls. Some well executed but all lacking innovation; more often than not a rectangular or cylindrical lidded box with a logo on it. The failing of cylindrical options is the constant threat of your ‘3 bed house in Walthamstow’ rolling clean off the table, not to mention the agony of trying to keep a stiff, arced lid open while getting your watch out - while the rectangular options lack any discreet purpose. Neither format has the ability to roll out flat like the old-fashioned canvas rolls, which provide a good working surface but lack any structured protection.
The brief that emerged was to design a case that wouldn’t roll off a table, would provide rigid protection in transit and could fold out flat to form a suitable working surface - and fit into a top-loading hotel room safe. The result did all four, and we think we may have also made it bulletproof...
Initial concept sketches
Our roll was inspired by sliding ‘tamber’ doors used in the furniture and drinks cabinets of the 1970’s; specifically, the idea of attaching rigid wooden batons to a flexible core to form a surface that can move fluidly around an arc. A surface that was both rigid and flexible.
In place of wooden batons, we used reinforced leather panels stitched to a Kevlar core and then lined with padded Alcantara suede cushioning. The resulting structure transforms from a rigid protective shell when closed, into a flat-bed preparation and display surface when open. We chose Kevlar for the flexible core as it’s ultra-thin, waterproof, and durable enough to be used in bullet proofing. We can’t say for sure if our rolls would in reality stop a bullet, and would advise against shooting one from close range, but rest assured it must be the most bulletproof watch roll on the market. Comfort I’m sure for some, depending on their line of business.
'Tamber' construction design development
Marc Newson once said, in a lecture I went to as a student, that the greatest compliment a product designer can receive is to have their work copied, so much so that he wore a fake version of one of his own watches. We’re proud to say that since launching the world’s first flat-bed watch roll there has been a flood of imitations entering the market, so if you’re looking for a cheap knock-off you’ll have no trouble finding one, but under no circumstances shoot it with a gun!