Death Star Tourbillon By Kross Studio: Star Wars-Themed Central Tourbillon Watch With Rare Kyber Crystal From ‘Rogue One’ Set
Star Wars fans, this watch is for you!
The Death Star Tourbillon is part of a functional art collector set by Kross Studio, an independent Swiss company. Most of the people involved in Kross were perhaps best known for their work on the final iteration of RJ Romain Jerome, which went bankrupt in 2020.
They include RJ’s former CEO Marco Tedeschi as well its former manufacturing director and CFO. Tedeschi’s wife Stéphanie is in charge of Kross Studio’s marketing while his childhood friend – who has worked at Audemars Piguet – is responsible for commercial and business development.
Kross is a full-fledged manufacture, which explains its ability to manufacture a ten-piece set like this. In addition to making its own artworks, Kross also works as a supplier and sub-supplier for other watch brands and related industries.
The five founders of Kross Studio have all been involved in the watch industry throughout their lives, so it makes sense that even though their unofficial motto is “art over watch,” horology is ever present. Kross does not limit itself to watchmaking, though, preferring to take a broader art approach to its creations rather than a purely horological one.
Aside from being a $150,000 set limited to just ten pieces, the Death Star Collector Set contains one more thing making it irresistible to true Star Wars fans: each watch comes in a set with an authentic kyber crystal film prop from 2016’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, a standalone spinoff prequel to the original Star Wars Episode IV of 1977.
Death Star Tourbillon by Kross Studio
The Death Star Tourbillon is a time-only wristwatch, but that doesn’t mean that its functionality is one dimensional. Not by a long shot.
In fact, I’d characterize it as extremely three dimensional, and this starts with visuals like the watch’s hour and minute hands – subtly shaped like the Empire’s Star Destroyers – coming out from behind a central mini Death Star.
In the Star Wars universe, the Death Star is a mobile space station and superweapon approximately 160-200 kilometers in diameter and crewed by about 1.7 million members of the Empire’s military as well as 400,000 droids. Home to the bad guys (the Empire), the Death Star’s superlasers, which are capable of destroying entire planets, are powered by kyber crystals.
The stainless steel rendition of the Death Star immediately attracts the eye. The time, though certainly secondary to the fascinating motion of the iconic space station, is displayed in an interesting peripheral format thanks to a planetary gear orbiting the central tourbillon inside the Death Star.
There is no crown because it was important to Tedeschi to ensure design symmetry. Instead, a flush “time set” button on the case is used to both set the time and wind the watch. Tedeschi explained in an interview that he is not a fan of crowns on big watches as they can poke the wrist, and his solution works very well.
The winding and setting is accomplished in conjunction with the so-called D-Ring Crown on the back of the watch, named for its D shape, which allows it to be lifted up and then turned like a key. Not only is it more comfortable to use than a conventional crown, it also enables faster winding. The movement boasts five days’ worth of power reserve.
By pressing the time set button, the D-Ring Crown sets the time instead of winding the movement (which it does in both directions).
Also cool are the two pushers on the back of the watch that release the strap. This allows for fast and easy strap changeability. The watch is delivered with three straps: a black rubber strap embossed with a Death Star pattern, a grey calfskin strap, also embossed with a Death Star pattern, and a plain red rubber strap with red stitching. All three have black rubber inlay on the inside.
“Even though this is only a ten-piece limited edition, we have created this strap-change mechanism,” said Tedeschi. “If Apple can do it, so can we.”
The Death Star Tourbillon comes with an authentic kyber crystal film prop from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – the first and only time kyber crystals will be available for sale and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for die-hard Star Wars fans.
A functional art piece, Kross Studio has also crafted a watch “box” like no other: a replica kyber crystal transport crate as seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Each crate is 1.2 meters (3.64 feet) in length and weighs approximately 80 kilograms.
Death Star Tourbillon by Kross Studio: the movement
Kross Studio uses the central tourbillon to represent the Death Star.
Against the blackness of the DLC-coated grade 5 titanium case reminiscent of a UFO, the captivating Death Star Tourbillon cage makes one revolution per minute. Visible on the Death Star is a green superlaser cannon, a hypnotic reminder that the space station is powered by a powerful kyber crystal.
“The tourbillon is the main animation of the watch and the Death Star covers it,” Tedeschi explained. “There is a lot more inspiration from the movie than that, though.”
“The story of this movement starts a long time ago,” Tedeschi continued. “I created it when I was studying at engineering school back in 2006. This movement is special to me: because of it I had the chance to meet Jean-Claude Biver and was hired by him after I showed him [the plans for] this movement. So I started my watch industry career at Hublot, hired thanks to that project.
“Back then the movement was a concept, but just as I was leaving RJ we created a prototype of the movement because it would have been used in the Spider-Man Tourbillon, so renderings exist. But the owner of the company decided to file for bankruptcy instead because he didn’t want to support the company any further. So I took back my movement and we redesigned it. It will finally be available for sale after 15 years!”
In case you were wondering – as I was – this movement does not touch Omega’s central tourbillon patent (which recently expired); it is completely different, diverging for example in the differential gear connecting the spring barrel with the regulating system. Tedeschi’s mechanism is also patented: he owns it together with the engineering school in Geneva that he attended.
Tedeschi says that a “hyperreserve” was another objective for this watch – meaning a long, five-day power reserve – and he did not want to use two spring barrels to achieve this. “We increased the size of the one spring barrel instead, and the only way to do so was to put it in the center. Then we put the tourbillon on top of it. So the only space left for the time was around the movement, which works using two ball bearings,” Tedeschi explained.
This project doubly means the world to Tedeschi: the commercialization of his own tourbillon movement 15 years after he invented it and the fruition of a project with Lucasfilm/Disney – a Star Wars superfan, he collects Star Wars items, Legos, and more. “It’s a personal favorite topic for the whole team,” he revealed.
This central tourbillon is an ideal element to transport a Death Star-themed wristwatch; it makes the whole thing incredibly palpable. The animation is more important than the timekeeping here, an element transforming the timepiece into art and an expression of super-fandom. And we can just love it for each and every one of those characteristics.
This is not the first time that Kross Studio has built a custom movement: the first was for the 1989 Batmobile Desk Clock, which launched in late 2020.
Star Wars symbolism: kyber crystal, Death Star, et al
“That’s no moon. It’s a space station . . . ”
Fans of the Star Wars saga may remember this line so memorably delivered by Obi-Wan Kenobi (Sir Alec Guinness) in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope as he stands in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon with Han Solo (Harrison Ford), both disbelievingly looking out into space for Alderan – a planet no longer where it should have been – and realizing what they were looking at was a giant death machine built by the Empire.
Kyber crystals are an essential element of the Star Wars universe: the lore holds that the crystals are the powerful components used to construct lightsabers and power the Death Star’s superlaser, capable of destroying entire planets in a single blast, as demonstrated by Alderan’s demise in the first film.
The powerful and precious nature of these crystals required them to be individually stored in armored crates for transport as depicted in Rogue One, crates faithfully replicated by Kross Studio for these unique collector sets.
Tedeschi is particularly proud of the kyber crystal container that Kross Studio built to house both the precious crystal prop and the tourbillon watch.
The container made from more than 700 components in wood, aluminum, and black polymer (plastic) measures 1,200 x 568 x 478 mm – yes, it is a rather large, more than a meter in length and heavy at around 80 kilograms.
“We recreated this container, a prop used in the film made of foam and polyurethane materials, while ours is really made of aluminum and wood,” says Tedeschi. “We created what would or could have been the container if the movie were real.”
The container features three removable capsules, each holding one item of precious cargo: the watch, the kyber crystal, and the exchangeable straps. Six other storage units are empty, waiting to be filled by the owner. “It fits a bottle of wine, cigars, or whatever else the customer likes,” suggested Tedeschi.
Kross Studio guarantees that this is the first and only time Disney and Lucasfilm have allowed kyber crystal props to be sold, making this a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Star Wars nerds that are also fans of fine watchmaking.
As with Romain Jerome’s raison d’être, it seems the “age of gimmick” is not quite over and the concept of using rare-bordering-on-unobtainable objects with an expensive wristwatch isn’t done yet.
However, in the Death Star Tourbillon the practically unobtainable object is something that is likely to really appeal to the super-fan watch collector.
For more information, please visit www.kross-studio.ch.
Quick Facts Death Star Tourbillon
Case: 45 x 20 mm, black DLC-coated titanium
Movement: manual winding Caliber KS 7000 with one-minute central tourbillon, 3 Hz/21,600 vph frequency, five-day power reserve
Functions: hour, minutes
Limitation: 10 pieces
Price: approx. $150,000
Remark: 5-year warranty after registration, comes with three interchangeable straps; comes with kyber crystal from Rogue One and recreated container