I hate crown-funding campaigns. Rarely do I find anything that I like or would want to wear, let alone pledge a sum of my hard-earned cash to support what more often than not is a passionless vision. But on the odd occasion that something catches my eye, it usually does so for a very good reason. Enter the Apollo, from Australia’s very own Zion Manufacturing Company.
Before I dive into the watch’s specifics and breakdown for you what makes this watch so appealing, lets have a look at the guys behind the watch. Zion Manufacturing Company (ZMC) was started in 2015 by a couple of guys heavily vested and interested in watches. From the get-go, they wanted to bring something unique to Australia’s very basic and albeit, very plain horological scene. There aren’t many Australian watchmaking brands that I’d personally vouch for, but hear me now ZMC is one of the very few. Their focus is on not only bring a product to fruition for the sake of doing so, but also producing something that reflects their personalities and environments in which they’ve grown up in. And it’s the individualised characteristics of new companies that draw me to their products.
The Apollo is ultimately a casual dress watch. Something you’d wear in the office, to dinner and drinks with friends, or to a formal event in a suit. Its aesthetics are pretty well rounded, and that in itself is a reflection of the casual lifestyle that ZMC wanted to reflect in their timepiece. The dial incorporates an outer layer hosting the stainless steel applied hour markers, and a step-down inner dial introducing to us Zion’s unique applied logo, again in stainless steel. The hour and minute hands are also in stainless steel, and rather than utilising the similar format as the hour indexes, ZMC chosen to use the beautiful sword-shape hand structure, which looks superb and adds a different element to the watch’s aesthetic. The step-down dial partition incorporates a very thin stainless steel chapter ring surrounding it that adds another level of refinement to the dial.
The 42mm stainless steel case showcases different levels of finishing, from a highly reflective mirror polish applied to the top and bottom of the piece, to the brushed metal finish applied to the middle section of the watch, all the way to the comfortable lugs. The dial incorporates a double-dome sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating to ensure enhanced visibility of the dial and tourbillon window, and if you turn the piece over you’ll be able to see the rotor moving quite eloquently through the sapphire crystal. ZMC have chosen a screw-down crown, which is a bit odd but I think has to do with the fact that they need to remain compliant with their 5ATM water-resistant rating. The crown has the ZMC logo applied to it, which is very unique and a very cool touch. It isn’t overly big, but still has enough presence to catch your attention.
The deployment clasp, admittedly, took me a bit of time to get used to, but once I found the right size it slipped on and off my wrist very easily. The deployment clasp hasn’t been overlooked either, and has been attended to in similar fashion as the case with mirror polishing adorning the stainless steel clasp. The watch sits surprisingly comfortably as well. Before I put it on, its 42mm width and 12mm height looked enormous, and I was a bit sceptical as to how it’d sit. But once I worked through my idiocy with the deployment clasp, it sat fairly well on my wrist, which I think has a lot to do with the clever lug design. The strap also contributes to the Apollo’s superior levels of comfort. Made with genuine Australia Kangaroo leather, which has 10 times the tensile strength of any cow-hide leather, the tapered strap wears really well, and its still very comfortable even after a couple of hours of straight wear. It rarely needs adjustment, and that to me is a big plus as a lot of more expensive watches, for whatever reason don’t see eye to eye with my wrist. My fault? Most likely, but its good to know I’ve at least one watch that my wrist won’t complain about!
Now onto the movement, and before I speak about it yes, its Chinese made. But so what? Obviously all the so-called heavy-hitters, know-it-all’s and self-proclaimed WIS’s are going to have a field day and immediately jump on the bandwagon of anti-China anything, but when you have a package like this well under $3,000AUD, then you’re going to expect a no-frills movement that is still very well made and that looks pretty decent too. The Hangzhou 3A00 Tourbillon automatic calibre is ZMC’s way of keeping an otherwise inaccessible complication affordable to the greater masses of watch enthusiasts. The movement is less than 7mm thick, has a power reserve of approximately 60 hours, utilities 33 jewels and beats at a respectable 28,800bph. I realise that the appeal of a genuine Swiss made tourbillon far surpasses that of an Asian equivalent, but bear in mind the value of this timepiece. Its not certainly the most beautiful, the most accurate or the most exclusive of timepieces available, and by no means will I call it a grail, but it doesn’t shy away from what it really is, and that’s a good, solid watch that steps well outside the box by using a traditional complication that’s been rendered affordable and relevant to the modern market.
Would I change anything? Yes, but they are just minor changes that don’t necessarily alter my view on the watch. First off, I’d close off the caseback. The rotor is neither decorated nor finished with any sort of flair. And unless ZMC were to inscribed something into it, or change its shape, then we really don’t need to see it. The second thing I’d change would be to get rid of the Zion name below the applied logo. It really doesn’t need to be there, but I get the fact that its ZMC’s first watch and they want their name to be shown proudly, and I can respect that. Besides that, this could very well be one of Australia’s finest high complication timepieces, dare I say it, ever. Priced at $999USD in the coming crowd-funding pledge campaign, with predicted RRP to be around the $2,000USD mark, I’d be quick to jump on it as I truly believe they will sell quite rapidly. I just want to commend the guys at ZMC and applaud them in their tenacity, passion and ballsy move into the world of high complication timepieces. Their pursuit of creating an affordable venture for watch enthusiasts around the world into high watchmaking is something that I highly admire and respect, and as far as supporting Australian watchmaking brands, they deserve your attention and recognition. Well done guys!