Ikepod: Just Another Mystical Phoenix-Burns-In-Fire-Then-Reborn-Better-Than-Ever Story. Except That This One Is True
A phoenix resurrected from the ashes imparts a nice spin, but the most powerful message comes from returning from the dead . . . think of how many great horror movies there are compared to great phoenix films (and I’ll give you Game of Thrones).
Or even better than a back-from-the-dead horror story is the underdog story.
Countless scary movies feature creatures rising from the dead and exacting revenge on the living. But the best sports films are basically the same thing: a “return from the dead” style of comeback if you will, an underdog player or team that everyone thinks is down and out but who rises up at the end to conquer tall rivals in glorious athletic battle.
My absolute favorite example of this is the 1993 Disney hit about the Jamaican bobsled team called Cool Runnings, but not for the reason you might think. The movie opens on the main character, a complete failure underscoring the underlying theme of the movie: failure is a continual part of life, as is getting back up and trying again.
Underdog wins: a phoenix rises
Unlike many underdog movies, especially most Disney movies from the 1990s, Cool Runnings highlights failure, defeat, and catastrophe until the very end. Spoiler alert: the team loses at the end, so there is no glorious victory. Sad. Or was it?
What this shows is the courage and fortitude to graciously accept defeat and then still get up and finish anyway. The lessons on display in Cool Runnings are the ultimate stories of returning from the dead: it isn’t just once you might have to return from the dead; you may need to try it a few times to make it stick.
The real Jamaican bobsled team (oh, yeah, it was based on a true story) came back to the Olympics a real competitor and have been a feature of the winter games ever since. However it took multiple “deaths” in the form of the down before the next (hoped for) up for the lessons to be fully realized.
In many ways, Cool Runnings is a better inspirational story than most sports movies for this reason as it illustrates that you can try with all your might, get back up after being knocked down, and still lose regardless. That might sound rather negative, but it shows that the only thing that will ever matter is that you keep getting up and keep working toward that goal.
Persistence and quiet courage underpin real accomplishments, not fast and fiery glory – there are usually months and years of hard work and repeated failures before any sign of success is within grasp.
In the watch industry, there are brands and individuals who understand these ideas. One brand that knows full well the many roadblocks there are on the way to success is Ikepod: born 24 years ago, it died not once, but twice (well, three times, sort of), and is now coming back for an overdue third coming.
Hard lessons there were to grasp, and it seems, learned. On September 18, 2018, Ikepod returned from the dead for the second time in an entirely new way so that, if things go as planned, it will return to the fray for good.
A little bit of Ikepod background
Ikepod was founded in 1994 by Swiss businessman Oliver Ike and designer Marc Newson. The brand birthed ideas and trends that would go on to define watchmaking to this day such as larger sizes combined with modern shapes and designs that pushed what watches could be while still charging some serious coin.
Designer Marc Newson has played a pivotal role in shaping industrial design over the last few decades, and Ikepod was a part of that influence.
The brand continued strongly through the 1990s and into the early 2000s, where it eventually succumbed to the struggling economy after the dot-com bubble burst and post-9/11 world affairs slowed things down.
The watch industry bubble finally burst, and the brand filed for bankruptcy in 2003. It was sold to the Perficio Group, which shortly thereafter declared bankruptcy in 2005 before ever relaunching the watches.
It was saved, however, and regrouped for its first real rebirth in 2008. Things went well for a little while, but it wasn’t to be: Newson left Ikepod in 2012, and the brand officially went to sleep.
It seemed that this death was going to take since the man behind the designs was gone (and soon courted by tech darling Apple). But behind the scenes, three passionate watch enthusiasts and savvy businessmen were concocting an idea to purchase the brand and rebirth it once again, this time in a way that would address previous issues and create a new market for the good stuff that was still alive in Ikepod.
The trio was able to purchase the brand and identity in April 2017 and went to work making Ikepod great again (that saying isn’t just limited to Trump and H. Moser & Cie., you know).
Over the next year research, design, and prototyping filtered a multitude of options down to two model lines for the launch. The second rebirth launch is now on Kickstarter, the go-to new way to launch a fledgling brand. It should be interesting to see how easily or not Ikepod attracts funding.
Why so worried?
Given Ikepod’s history, it is understandable that the folks behind the new Ikepod might want to take some precautions like using a crowdfunding website to judge the initial reception before investing heavily in production pieces.
But why would they be worried, you ask? Well, because as the legends would have it, Ikepod watches were famously plagued with problems throughout the brand’s history.
It started with the design and ended with quality-control issues. First, the design “required” the case to have no case back and the bezel was perfectly flush, so opening the watch for service or repair proved to be a giant pain in the neck even though there was a special tool for it. Extracting the movement from the front wasn’t ideal; it was as if they hadn’t taken into account the fact that even in the best of cases, no movement would work forever .
There were also issues with quality control such as pushers falling off the Hemipode chronograph and some issues with the original rubber straps. Of course, when you combine that with the high prices, scarce availability, and the fact the brand failed twice (or three times), people may become a bit dubious.
That is why the new owners are trying to be as transparent as possible about what the new Ikepod is, what it isn’t, and why people should feel confident getting a brand-new Ikepod watch.
Ikepod is structured wholly differently than its predecessor. Instead of Swiss made everything in extremely limited numbers, finicky service issues, sometimes in precious metals, selling for thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars, the new watches seek to counter every single one of these points.
Ikepod offers Swiss design (by seasoned Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore designer Emmanuel Gueit) very similar to the original look and feel but made in Hong Kong. The watches house Japanese (Miyota) quartz movements (for now), with a modified design allowing for easy servicing without special tools. Lesson learned.
The case, dial, and hands are sourced from high-quality suppliers – the very same supplying the Swiss industry (is that even a secret anymore?) – and assembled by experienced watchmakers in Switzerland.
The result is a high-quality, reliable timepiece that is only a slight evolution of the Ikepod style, but with no rigmarole and for a very, very affordable price.
The Chronopod (the successor to the Hemipode) will retail for $725, while the Duopod (a descendent of the Horizon collection) will be available for a very reasonable (in my opinion) $590.
And, as in nearly everything online now, you can order direct from Ikepod without having to go through an outside sales channel.
Considering how iconic Ikepod watches are and how closely the new pieces resemble the old pieces, I am confident that there will be a fair number of consumers lining up to get their hands on the new watches. Many won’t care that they aren’t yet mechanical, they will simply adore the fact that they can finally own a piece of design history without selling their car or liver.
Before I was even into watches I was aware of Ikepod, specifically the Horizon collection, which became a bit of a grail for me once I understood the concept of a grail watch. Ikepod kind of transcended watch circles and became a phenomenon across all design, fashion, and art communities.
As I think back on it, it was kind of strange. Perhaps because I was skirting design circles and in college at the time, I came across it easier than some, but it still was something that I noticed before I ever thought about wristwatches in any serious way.
And that is saying something about the Ikepod as an object.
And that is why the brand is being rebirthed again: because there was an unusually potent amount of passion surrounding a rebirth. Luckily it is the new team’s mission to breathe life into Ikepod and cultivate a new generation of Ikepod fans.
After seeing quite a few prototypes at Baselworld 2018, I know an Ikepod is on my list once a mechanical version is available. One variation closely resembles the classic Horizon golf ball dial that I fell in love with, so once Ikepod drops a Miyota (or whatever) in there, I feel it will be coming home with me.
You can head over to the Kickstarter campaign yourself to see what the hubbub is all about and get back in touch with the new Ikepod. I know my fingers are crossed because there was definitely an Ikepod-shaped hole in the watch industry for a while.
I’m glad to see you back, Ikepod!
So let’s break ’em down!
- Wowza Factor * 9.25 I never thought I would actually see a new Ikepod watch, so for me it was a happy day!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 99.99 » 980.567m/s2 Almost triple digits’ worth of late night lust for the Ikepods on their way. Seriously, I am so excited!
- M.G.R. * 10 Japanese quartz movements: solid, functional, practical, and affordable. Just not too exciting.
- Added-Functionitis * Mild For the Chronopod, the addition of a chronograph and date is always welcome. Still since it’s quartz, you’ll really only need children’s strength Gotta-HAVE-That cream!
- Ouch Outline * 8.1 Blister between the toes! Walking in shoes without socks has its drawbacks as does an awesome watch with a quartz movement. Still, I would be hard pressed to say no (but I still want to wait for the mechanical version).
- Mermaid Moment * Oh how I missed you Ikepod! Seriously, it’s Ikepod everyone, it’s Ikepod!! Quick, make sure the chapel is free on Sunday afternoon!
- Awesome Total * 657.5 Add the cost of the Chronopod in USD (725) to the cost of the Duopod in USD (590) and then divide the result by how many model lines are debuting (2), and the result is definitely one awesome total!
For more information, please ikepod.com and/or www.kickstarter.com/projects/luxury-design-watch/ikepod-watches.
Quick Facts Ikepod Duopod
Case: 42 mm, stainless steel
Movement: Miyota quartz
Functions: hours, minutes
Quick Facts Ikepod Chronopod
Case: 44 mm, stainless steel
Movement: quartz Miyota JS 25
Functions: hours, minutes, 60-second/30-minute chronograph, 24-hour indication
You may also enjoy:
Ikepod Megapode: Marc Newson’s Smartest Watch (And Perhaps My Smartest Rolex Trade)
Glass, Nostalgia, And The Ikepod Hourglass
Talking With Marc Newson: Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Favorite ‘Clock Designer’ Styles New Atmos 568
Also published on Medium.