You can check out more details here.
Here are my thoughts on some of the issues raised during the preliminary discussions….
Movement: ETA 2893-2
I know that there was some speculation that a new GMT movement is on the horizon from Sellita. Barring the possibility that the collective minds on the forums know something that I don’t (which is possible) none of my sources are aware of such a development. In addition, given that the balance springs that the industry is dependent upon will become artificially scarce for the next couple of years there probably isn’t a lot of incentive for Sellita to expand their product line. At this point I know I have 2893s coming and I know the movement well by now. For this kind of project it seems best to stick to what we know and understand.
There was quite a lot of talk previously about a lumed bezel inlay. What is important to note at this stage is that if you sign up for the Project GMT (“GMT”) you will have to be satisfied with an aluminum inlay. That is because that is what I can guarantee for now. What we can promise to the Plankowners (i.e. the first 60 watches) for the GMT is that if we develop a sapphire inlay option for the watch we will at the least offer them an opportunity to purchase the part at a discount. I can’t be more generous at this point until we know exactly how much the part will cost. It isn’t even possible at this stage to estimate the cost because the method we prefer to use is experimental.
We are in the intermediate stage of the development a lumed sapphire inlay that we can use on the GMT. The Paradive inlay is an example of how far we have progressed toward this goal and a solid indicator that it is possible. However the issues involved in a lumed sapphire inlay for the GMT are more complex. The part would only be partially supported by the bezel, much like the original PanAm watch. The Paradive is “easier” because the part is fully supported by the bezel itself.
At this point we are using the production of the Stingray II and Project 300 as test beds for a process that can be used as a state-of-the-art solution to the GMT inlay. While the geometry of the Stingray II and Project 300 inlays are not the same as a proposed GMT inlay it is more practical to test this experimental technique on a flat surface and then move forward if it is successful. The process we are using for the Paradive is an alternative solution that is available but as noted above not ideally suited for a partially supported bezel inlay.
Using acrylic is out of the question. Based on my experience the material is too inconsistent and unstable. There is also the danger that we would inadvertently re-create the problem that Rolex experienced with the original GMT watch. If you recall the original acrylic inlays were dimensionally unstable when exposed to strong sunlight and also prone to “leakage” of the Strontium paint. While we would be using SuperLumiNova (“SLN”) one still risks the SLN expanding if it is ever exposed to water, which can cause the acrylic to crack.
Case body and Design:
I have decided that it is ideal to use the Kingston case design as the foundation for the Project GMT. There isn’t a lot to be gained by re-designing the case. In addition the Kingston case is different enough from the original PanAm watch that it is also “safe” as it can’t be re-purposed to counterfeit original PanAm’s.
Just for the sake of laying all of our cards out on the table, there are a couple of issues I should make you aware of. There are two ways we can go. We can either use a standard white background date wheel with black and red numbers or we can try to replicate the original silver tone sunburst satin background finish with the black and red numbers. The former is obviously safe and should serve a suitable way forward if my efforts to create the later fall on its face. The reason I bring this up is that I haven’t tried to manufacture anything exotic as far as date wheels are concerned. I know what is possible with dials of course, and they are very similar. However I have been doing this long enough to know that sometimes small differences can result in substantial questions of feasibility.
I will discuss this some more when I have had some more sleep…the new work schedule has been murder when random people throw wrenches in the works. However so far so good.