Engineered to be different
Aera was founded by a small but dedicated group of watch enthusiasts. All of us shared the same enthusiasm for the classic tool watches of the past. We just figured they could do with being gently modernised. That was the idea, anyway. The result of years of planning and weeks of late nights, we launched Aera with two models – the D-1 Diver and the P-1 Pilot. Below are 10 reasons we think they’re pretty special and we’d love to hear what you think.
The details make the design
Small things matter to us. Like the fact that our dials are etched so they form a well for the application of our lume. And the fact that our lume is hand-painted by specialists in Switzerland. That’s because everything we do at Aera is a labour of love. Though we only launched in 2022, as Esquire magazine put it “You get the sense that every little design decision has been sweated over”. Take the loop on our lollipop-style second hand. As it approaches the “A” in our logo at 12 o’clock, it perfectly frames it. You wouldn’t believe how much trial and error it took to get that right. We believe it was worth it.
For all our watches we’ve sourced a special high-grade brushed stainless steel called 904L, a more expensive and harder-to-mill version than the more common 316L. If you’re into your chemistry, its superiority is based on a chemical composition that includes greater percentages of chromium, molybdenum and nickel, plus also copper, magnesium and silicon, which gives it a greater corrosion resistance than 316L. It also takes a higher polish than other grades of steel, so it shines up really nicely. It’s the reason you’ll see it used by the world’s best luxury watchmakers. You’ll find it on our cases, our closed steel casebacks, our bezels, our crowns – and even on our strap buckles.
28,800 vibrations an hour
Our watches run on the Sellita SW200-1 movement, a calibre sometimes referred to as the "workhorse" of the industry for its reliability and accuracy. It’s the same engine inside many prestigious Swiss brands. The automatic, self-winding movement undergoes rigorous tests before leaving Switzerland and again here in the UK. Its tolerance is between +/- 12 and +/- 30 seconds a day. In terms of longevity the SW200-1 comes with a two-year warranty from manufacturing defects, and once you register your watch, we extend that to three years. The winding shaft has settings for manual winding, hand positions, plus a stop-second for precision accuracy. Operating at 28,800 vibrations per hour, our second hand runs incredibly smoothly.
Our unique one-piece dials
One of the features we get asked about the most is our one-piece dials. They're considerably more substantial than you’ll find in other watches. We achieve this by stamping them out using a very strong, specialist hydraulic press. As with our crystals, they're subtly curved. Taken together they create a depth to our faces that make them distinctive, legible and unlike others. Being such a delicate procedure, one slip, and our engineers have to start over – but success is the result of perfection. The recessed markings, adding yet another layer of depth and dimension, are achieved by “deep etching”
We lacquer our dials “velvet” black
Another reason that our dials “pop” and they’re so legible is down to the background colour we use. They’re sprayed with our proprietary matt black “velvet” lacquer. (The markings are added prior to this.) This makes the surface super-sensitive. It cannot be touched or cleaned. You don’t want to get dust near it – or, once again, our engineers have to start all over again. (Honestly, they love us really.)
Super-LumiNova is the name under which non-radioactive afterglow pigments are applied to watch dials, hands and bezels, for illuminating markings in low light. After sufficient activation by sunlight or artificial light, the D-1 Diver and P-1 Pilot should glow for hours. In the early days of military-inspired tool watches this had life-or-death implications – standardising mission times at night, knowing when to surface underwater, and so on. You’re perhaps less likely to rely on Aera behind enemy lines, but it remains a much-loved feature. You’ll find bright blue lume on our D-1 and sharp white lume on our P-1. There’s also a dot on the crown of the P-1 and D-1 for added legibility above or below the surface.
Large, easy-to-use crowns
Our attention to detail extends to our crowns. Tool watches were initially designed to be operated with gloves, and though it’s unlikely you’ll be busting out a pair of leather flame retardant mitts like a WW2 ace, the aesthetic is a defining feature of a true tool watch. So you’ll find our crowns are large, easy-to-use and come with grippable, non-slip indentations.
Change the strap, change the watch
Some watch brands make a big play of providing a bracelet and a strap “out of the box". As should hopefully be obvious by now, we like to go further. Every Aera watch comes with one strap as standard, one limited-edition plus a third option, with our compliments. And if you want to experiment more, our webstore’s got even more options. Swapping Mahogany Leather for Battleship Grey Rubber on the P-1, for example, completely alters its aesthetic. Being lifelong watch fans we’re also strap obsessives. Our R&D process never stops and some of the prototypes we’re working on for 2023 are truly special..
Individual casebacks and serial numbers
Turn over every one of our watches and you’ll find a serial number on the back and one of the lugs. This not only marks the watch out as ‘yours’ – it makes it unique. The entire caseback is also made using the same deep etching engineering process as the recessed markings and has a depth of 0.06 to 0.08mm.
Even our crystals are individual
Today, watch glass is called “crystal” – for the good reason that most watchmakers stopped using cheap acrylic glass in the 1980s. It was superseded by sapphire crystal that rates 9 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness mineral scale – it's one of the toughest substances on Earth. (Diamond scores 10.) So, for a scratchproof watch, there’s really only one material fit for purpose. Crystal is, however, far from easy to mill. To make matters trickier our crystals are domed. And that requires extra-delicate work. They're also anti-reflective and flush-fit, so there's no seams or joins. It gives our watches their unusually wide viewing-angle, so our markers are as legible side-on as from above.