fter designing a first series of art objects in the shape of table clocks linked to the Batman universe, in partnership with Warner Bros (read more here), Kross Studio, a Swiss creative lab largely made up of former RJ Watches/Romain Jerome watchmakers has scored another coup: a collaboration with Lucasfilm (Disney). The result is a series of sets inspired by the famous Death Star from the Star Wars galaxy, consisting of a central tourbillon watch and an authentic kyber crystal used in the film “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, all encapsulated in a spectacular kyber crystal crate.
Designed for both die-hard Star Wars fans and collectors of unique designs, the ten collectors’ sets “embody the strength of the Galactic Empire and its space station, the Death Star.” Each crystal issued by the Lucasfilm team is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. It’s an opportunity to own a genuine piece of the Star Wars saga.
Each crystal delivered by the Lucasfilm team is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. It’s an opportunity to own a genuine fragment of the Star Wars saga.
Presented in a 45 mm case in grade 5 titanium with a black DLC coating, the watch is equipped with a central tourbillon cage representing the northern hemisphere of the Death Star, which performs one revolution per minute. The hands, set on a peripheral display rotating 360 degrees around the tourbillon, depict the warships of the Empire: an Imperial Class Star Destroyer for the hour and a Super-Class Star Destroyer for the minute. A push-button integrated into the watch case between 3 and 4 o’clock replaces the traditional time-setting crown.
- The Death Star set from Lucasfilm and Kross Studio
The Death Star Tourbillon watch, along with its straps and kyber crystal, are protected inside a faithful reproduction of the orange containers used by the Empire to secure its kyber crystal shipments. Each crate is a genuine piece of functional art, composed of more than 700 elements, measuring 1.2 metres in length(!). Kross Studio relied on the know-how of Swiss craftsmen to design the ten wood and aluminium containers.
Inside, nine distinct spaces have been designed: three of them are inhabited by removable capsules housing the Death Star Tourbillon watch, its three sets of bracelets and the original kyber crystal. The other six are protected by a cover and allow for the addition of other collectibles.
Kross Studio goes so far as to machine the wheels of the watch movement in the form of the Galactic Empire emblem. Messages in Aurebesh, one of the most used alphabets in the Star Wars galaxy, are engraved on the push-buttons of the timepiece. As a final touch, the fixed hour wheel, filled with white Super-LumiNova that glows blue, is inspired by the wall panels of the imperial ships. The Swiss studio has already announced that future collections inspired by the Star Wars saga will be produced. We had a chat with its director, Marco Tedeschi, to find out more.
Europa Star: The coincidence is striking: Audemars Piguet has recently joined forces with Marvel and you with both Warner Bros and Lucasfilm. Although it’s not a totally new phenomenon, Haute Horlogerie is increasingly rubbing shoulders with popular culture.
Marco Tedeschi: It’s one world meeting another. We help them to position themselves in a segment in which they are not yet present, that of art and luxury, using their own universe. There is a demand in this type of market, which meets the quest for luxury in pop culture. We put ourselves fully at their service in this quest: we actually don’t really consider ourselves a brand, and we never put the name of Kross Studio on the objects.
This project, like many others, relies on the “premium-isation” of any object or popular creation, as described by Erwan Rambourg in his book Future Luxe...
Yes, we can also see this phenomenon at work with our customisation activity for private clients’ own pieces: there is strong demand for exclusive models. Our objective is to create art objects linked to time, using Swiss know-how, in very limited series for collectors. And with a slightly offbeat vision.
“It’s one world meeting another. We are helping them to position themselves in a segment in which they are not yet present, that of art and luxury, by using their own universe.”
- Death Star 45mm watch with central tourbillon: 10 numbered pieces, grade 5 titanium case, black DLC coating, manual winding movement, 5-day power reserve.
This formula must have appealed to Lucasfilm… and subsequently Disney?
Since the beginning of Kross Studio, we developed several partnership plans with Disney, applying the same concept as the one for the Batmobile made with Warner Bros. We were able to meet them, fortunately, just before the lockdown. It’s a long-term collaboration: we’re planning a dozen joint releases over the next few years, including more affordable accessories. They had had a few watch collaborations in the past, but had never worked with a high-end Swiss brand. We immediately suggested a tourbillon model... and then accessories from the filming of the movies were added to form a truly exceptional art set.
At $150,000 a set, this is indeed another dimension to the popular Star Wars universe...
This is the only product to date that features a real prop from the film, and sets are limited to ten pieces. We worked on the Death Star and wanted to reproduce the imaginary world of the saga. The central tourbillon watch and kyber crystal capsules used in the film are protected in a functional work of art, a container reproduced on the basis of images from the movie. It took us almost more time to recreate the container than to design the tourbillon! In addition to the watch set, you could use it to store a bottle of vintage wine or Star Wars figurines, depending on your taste...
- Spectacular packaging in the form of a functional kyber crystal container measuring 1.20m in length. Inside: six storage spaces and three removable capsules containing the Death Star Tourbillon watch, its extra straps and the kyber crystal.
On the basis of your first experience with the Batmobile table clock, created in collaboration with Warner Bros, would you say this type of creation appeals more to fans of the universe in question or to watch collectors?
To be honest, I was surprised by the distribution of sales between these different categories for the Batmobile. One third of customers came from the watchmaking community and two thirds were Batman fans who also appreciate beautiful objects. At that time, we also did some initial online sales in parallel with the physical distribution, which showed that there were customers who were quite willing to pay CHF 30,000 online. We are very confident about this strategy, including our plan to move into lower price segments in the future. We can see today that brands that offer something really different are the ones that are doing well. As far as the Death Star set is concerned, we work directly with customers, the majority of whom are major Star Wars collectors.
“We are very confident about this strategy. We can see today that brands that offer something really different are the ones that are pulling through.”
How knowledgeable are your customers about watches?
This is a great opportunity, in some cases, to introduce them to fine watchmaking. We believe that we are contributing to the promotion of Swiss watchmaking around the world, by introducing new categories of buyers to the art of horology. Just recently, I spent a good deal of time on the phone with a Batman collector, explaining to him how a timepiece could carry such a high price tag, which might be surprising at first. I hope I gave him a taste for fine watchmaking!
- Kyber crystal capsule used on the set of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
What were the main technical challenges in the production of the Death Star model’s central tourbillon?
I had worked on the design of a Haute Horlogerie movement during my studies in 2006 – that’s actually how I joined Hublot. We were inspired by it and reworked it. The idea was to be able to admire the beauty of the movement. The biggest manufacturing challenge was the titanium central tourbillon cage, which required 480 different operations and over 328 lines of code for the CNC machine! Another challenge was the starship-inspired hands. Some of our partners called us crazy...
“Through these collaborations, we believe that we are contributing to the promotion of Swiss watchmaking around the world, by introducing new buyers to the art of horology.”
Do you have other activities besides these collaborative creations?
Yes, we are suppliers to the watchmaking industry and other industries; our speciality is machining complex parts. This also allows us to finance our development. Our company was born amid the chaos of the pandemic crisis, following the closure of RJ Watches at the beginning of 2020. We adapted immediately to the new situation. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.