Extravagant Mechanical Luxury: Roland Iten RWC11 Symmetrically Adjustable Watch Clasp
Superfluous, excessive, nonessential, gratuitous, extravagant, profuse: these words convey the undercurrent of luxury.
Luxury is, among other things, the wants of life beyond the needs. Luxury outstrips the requirements of almost anything by miles and turns it into an exercise in possibility.
Everyone needs a place to sleep, but not everyone needs a bed made of the finest silk filled with the feathers from five thousand pampered geese. This is excessive, but also incredible compared to the most basic sleeping arrangements.
The ability to have something almost impossibly more expensive, more complicated, and more exclusive is the goal of many of us, though what we all think of expensive, complicated and exclusive is usually relative to our individual circumstances.
That is luxury.
But aside from arguing for wants versus needs, luxury can also present a plethora of interesting ideas and a smorgasbord of creativity and skills, becoming a different thing still to those who do the creating instead of consuming.
Creators of the finest luxury are crazy magicians, pushing the boundaries of what is sensible and what can be made better. Usually this means using the best materials, uniquely complicated constructions, hand fabrication, and limited production. But the very best involves creating something that has never existed before, simply by thinking, “I can make that so much better if I just . . .”
This is what the innovators in luxury do. The problems they tackle aren’t always life or death, and they might not affect the lives of millions, but the solutions they come up with for unique problems can definitely be interesting and exciting.
Working in the field of industrial design, I know firsthand that no problem is exceptionally easy to solve. Even the simplest task can sometimes take weeks of redesigns, prototypes, and problem-solving for a seemingly simple solution.
The task of creating the perfectly adjustable watch clasp system is the type of problem that was irresistible for Roland Iten.
Perfecting ideas step by step
The path toward creating the best adjustable watch clasp began more than a decade ago, in 2004 Roland Iten began designing an adjustable clasp, which eventually was sold to F.P. Journe for use on certain exclusive pieces from 2006. Since then, Iten has designed four additional ideas on adjustable clasps for the likes of Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, MCT, and the Roland Iten-branded RW9.
Each clasp explored a different take on easy adjustability, and the lessons learned have found their way into Roland’s newest adjustable clasp, the RWC11.
But why do it in the first place?
The problem with most watch straps is that they are only adjustable using a given number of holes, and these holes are usually 8 millimeters apart. The result is usually a strap that is a little loose, or a little tight. Some people add extra holes in between for a more exact fit, something I have done from time to time as well.
Since wrists are not usually the exact circumferences that the holes allow, the original method is clearly lacking and a better idea is more than overdue. This is why Iten has been designing and refining these systems for 12 years.
The main driving factor behind the design of the RWC11 is the desire for uniform adjustment of the strap. All of the other systems were asymmetrical, that is they tightened in one direction as one strap was fixed to the mechanism and the other side would move in and out as desired. That meant that rather than the buckle resting comfortable in the middle of the underside of the wrist it would move to one side as the strap was adjusted.
Not so with the RWC11: this is the first symmetrical system designed to give a perfect fit for any wearer, and with the buckle always remaining in the center of the wrist.
Heavy and centered
Not only does this system allow the user to make sure the watch is secured comfortably and firmly, but it also addresses the problem of offset buckles that many watch straps suffer from.
Since a buckle or a clasp is a fixed point in many instances, when the strap or bracelet is adjusted and tightened, the buckle becomes off-centered on the wrist. This can further result in a watch being pulled off center on the top of the wrist.
When combined with the ability to adjust for perfect fit, the symmetrical nature of the RWC11 system ensures that the watch stays where you want it.
This makes it particularly ideal for large and heavy watches (Paneristi take note!).
One naturally does not want ultra-thin or ultra-light cases to move around on the wrist, either, but it is the larger cases made of dense/heavy precious metals that have a tendency to shift. If the strap is loose enough, the watch will toll around the wrist and end up underneath (perhaps banging on something).
With the RWC11, the strap can be adjusted tight enough that the watch will stay put without ever being overly tight. This is accomplished by dual racks moving in precise one-millimeter increments.
How it works
The basic construction of the RWC11 is based on a calibration lever that is attached to a central gear. This gear meshes with two opposing racks with wings attached to each strap. As the lever is moved back and forth, both straps are pulled in or let out to adjust the tightness.
The lever itself has a ball detent feature that meets up with 11 holes in the clasp base that provide clear one-millimeter increments.
The calibration lever usually starts in the middle position with the strap at the approximate size. Once the double deployant clasp wings are closed, the adjustable mechanism can be utilized. A small clutch lever on the opposite side of the calibration lever is pulled out, releasing a brake on the mechanism allowing the adjustment to be made. Once the desired amount of tension on the strap is achieved, the clutch lever is closed, locking the clasp in position.
The deployant-style clasp only needs adjusting if the wearer desires a different amount of tension.
The RWC11 system allows for 11 millimeters of adjustment (hence the name) and does so while keeping the clasp in the center of the wrist. The entire assembly consists of 26 components, 18 of which are unique. It can also be used with the clasp that came with the watch, maintaining most of the original look and style.
Only the tip of the adjustment lever and the clutch release lever are visible when it is worn as the mechanism is mostly hidden underneath the strap. This also differs from previous ideas that emphasized the mechanisms instead of helping them to blend in.
Perhaps the best part is that all this can take place using only one hand. If a slight adjustment is desired, all the wearer needs is thumb and forefinger to achieve a perfect fit.
Details make the strap
There are three versions initially available for the RWC11.
Version 1 sees the clasp constructed in stainless steel and titanium, with the tang and screws in red or white gold.
Version 2 steps things up a notch by adding the clasp base, tang, lever, and a Roland Iten clasp in one of the two precious metals.
Version 3 is the most luxurious with the entire mechanism in solid red or white gold with some steel accents. In addition to these variations, The RWC11 has a top plate that allows for custom engraving per each customer’s request at no extra charge.
The mechanism can also be supplied with straps containing the correct components to utilize the RWC11 with Apple or Samsung watches, meaning that the enthusiast isn’t really limited when it comes to options for the RWC11; it truly lets you decide how you want to use it.
And, let’s be honest, you really want to use it. Like everything else Roland Iten, it is just too cool to not to play with it. The fact that it can be adjusted so easily means that these clasps might spend just as much time being adjusted for fun as for their original purpose.
The clasp system is an incredible solution to a seemingly simple problem, yet it stands up as an entirely extravagant and luxurious answer. One could always utilize Velcro for easy and custom adjustment, but Velcro is also the least intoxicating or interesting solution possible.
The RWC11 is the best and most complicated solution yet, and that makes it drool-worthy like all Roland Iten creations.
If you like his mechanical cufflinks, credit card holder, or the famous mechanical belt buckles, then the new RWC11 might just be for you!
I know I want one.
For more information, please contact [email protected].
Materials: 3 versions with variations of stainless steel, titanium, and red or white gold
Functions: 11-millimeter symmetrically adjustable double deployant watch clasp
Price: V1 (clasp in stainless steel and titanium, tang and screws in red or white gold) 5,800 Swiss francs/approx. $6,000; V2 (clasp base, tang, and lever additionally in precious metal) and V3 (red or white gold with steel accents) pricing and availability on demand