The good watch

Aera began with a question. When a small group of watch industry professionals and watch lovers met in Geneva early in January 2018, with the idea of creating a new watch brand from scratch, first, we asked ourselves “What defines a good watch?”

As seasoned professionals from different facets of the watch business, we each had our own takes on watches. But one thing we agreed on at that first meeting; a good watch would be an honest proposition, one that was reasonably priced but offered great quality.

We didn’t spend weeks analysing the market or devising a cunning marketing plan; we knew exactly what we needed to do: make really good watches and make them available at a compelling price.

We took inspiration from classic minimalist objects conceived entirely around their function. Because of that they were simple, strong and timeless.

For functionality, we drew our inspiration from the archetypes of classic tool watches that were designed to do one thing – measure time – and do it very well. The design process began at that very first meeting in Geneva.

We began to sketch out rough shapes and some basics of the display. And it was clear from outset that it needed to be an exercise in restraint. To be of value, Aera had to be defined as much by what was left out as by what was put in.

We didn’t have a name when we set out, but we knew that the watches we were making had to be original and simple, so the name would reflect simplicity and purpose. Aera, meaning a period of time with a distinct character, also suggests something both memorable and enduring.

Three years later and after much development and refinement we are proud to unveil our first two watches, the P–1 Pilot and the D–1 Diver. But there’s already more in the pipeline…

In some ways, Aera is both contemporary and old-school. At a moment where many are beginning to question the validity of disposable fashion and the built-in obsolescence of many of our consumer goods, a well-made mechanical wristwatch is perhaps the ultimate example of longevity in product design, smarter, perhaps, than a smart watch.

Driven by an automatic movement, it tells the time without need of batteries or a software update. If maintained, a well-made mechanical watch can last – literally – for generations.

Our goal was to make Aera watches the best they could possibly be but at a rational price. That meant powering them with reliable Swiss automatic movements. We don’t pretend our debut watches, the P–1 Pilot and the D–1 Diver, are cheap. But we believe they represent great value.

All Aera components are consistent with watchmaking practices at significantly higher price levels. Our makers are a small band of dedicated specialists in Switzerland, the UK and Italy, places where we knew we would get the benefit of the best artisanal and technical skills.

Striving for better materials, we made an early decision to use only 904L stainless steel for our cases and buckles. 904L stainless steel is a super-alloy more resistant to corrosion and pitting than the 316L stainless (known as surgical steel) that is used in almost all reputable watch brands and with far higher price tags.

As a raw material, 904L stainless steel is typically 2 to 3 times more expensive than 316L. We could have settled for 316L, because almost everyone else does. But we didn’t. We believe the long-term viability of more corrosion resistant steel only enhances the value of an Aera watch.

We decided from the get-go that sustainability would not be a sales gimmick for Aera but a vital pillar. We designed all our packaging and then ensured it would be 100% recyclable. We are also making our instruction manual digital only.

Of course, many watch fans tend to hang on to the packaging to optimise the value of their watch. But that does not excuse a profligate use of materials, and for those for whom recycling is an everyday credo we realise that is only a starting point. Sustainability is a commitment. As Aera grows as a brand, the question “How can we do more?” will be a constant.