O.G. Deep Space: Classic Methods, Modern Aesthetic
EXT. CLOSE UP
The rain falls, dripping down a bloodied face, slowly blinking in the glaring light.
EXT. ROOF – NIGHT
From his back, he considers his savior, the one that so effortlessly snatched him from death hundreds of feet below as his own grip gave out. He breathes heavily from his exhaustion, unsure what is to come.
EXT. ROOF LOW ANGLE (LATER)
Sitting, partly crumpled, a dove still grasped tightly in his left hand and a nail embedded in his right; with his eyes full of life and intensity he looks at the man he just saved.
They stare at each other for a long time, communicating something with their eyes… without expression. Finally, Batty breaks the silence –
I’ve… seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
(shudders with a pause)
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
All those… moments will be lost… in time… like tears in the rain.
Time to die.
He slowly crumples over, releasing the dove as his movement ceases.
Deckard grimaces. He knows Batty was more human in his last moments clinging to life than most people will ever be. He fought it all the way. He took all the time he had, as though he loved life very much, every second of it… even the pain. And then he was dead.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
This mashup of the original script and paraphrasing of the visuals from the iconic 1982 sci-fi hit Blade Runner is not here solely for a fun bit of nostalgia but is here to set the stage. This film created an aesthetic of the future so distinct and lasting that it has been copied and parodied in almost every form of media relating to futuristic sci-fi.
Cyberpunk elements were already arising before Blade Runner was produced, with early examples in comics appearing in the late 1970’s. However, Blade Runner was the first widely seen example to solidify the elements into such a visceral image. The dystopian future of neon and dirty streets where it always seemed to rain was cemented in people’s minds as intimately linked with science fiction.
The original poster and subsequent “final cut” edition (of which I am most familiar) have also been seen as much, if not more, than the film itself, strengthening the popular imagery surrounding the world.
That is why one of the first things I think of when I think of Blade Runner is this climactic scene between Deckard and Batty, the rain pouring down, neon lights, steel, and a dark aesthetic filling the screen. In my mind, diagonal streaks of light wash over the image, and a lot of cyberpunk visuals seem to mimic or copy this detail in some way, so that texture and light feel to be key aspects of the genre.
A new watch that accidentally triggered that memory and feeling is the Deep Space from the small independent brand O.G. out of Bristol in the U.K.
Founded by the eponymous Oliver Gallaugher, the O.G. brand launched its first timepiece, the Deep Space, as an exploration of visual movement in the simplest possible way and as a result created a very clean example of understanding the assignment.
O.G. Deep Space
At its core, the Deep Space is a very simple watch without any gimmicks masquerading as features, allowing it to be observed and appreciated for what it is, a solid time-only watch. It displays the hours and minutes on a supremely clean dial that lacks pomp or flourish, with just enough going on to create a strong first impression.
Built on a custom designed and manufactured movement developed from the design of the tried-and-true ETA Unitas 6498, the Deep Space attempts to do one thing and one thing only: be a great everyday watch that looks good on the wrist through distinct design.
The dial has no applied markers, no variations of level, and uses two details to create a tapestry of movement across the face of the watch: a diagonal brushed finish and hand-engraved stars. That’s it.
There is the simple O.G. logo pad printed in gold in the typical position, but other than that, the dial is empty of distracting details. The hour and minute railroad track around the edge of the face is kept off the dial by printing it directly on the underside of the sapphire crystal, with a design that is as simple as it can be while adding a tiny flair with triangle hash marks within the borders for every hour.
To mirror the hour markers, each hand is a straight tapered wedge, shorter and fatter for the hours, long and skinny for the minutes. With a simple case profile, minimal bezel, and thin but heavily fluted crown, that is the extent of the shapes driving the visual impact of the Deep Space. That simplicity gives way a bit once you flip it over, revealing a well-finished and lightly stylized GUY-1 caliber.
Classic finishing and a fully gold-plated movement shine out like a sun from the previously monochromatic design language. With just enough customization to make it stand out against a simply modified 6498, the GUY-1 adds enough horological gravitas to elevate the watch beyond just a design object.
A watch like this is nestled into a fairly saturated niche of the watchmaking market, designed to capture those that want something a bit different but also aren’t into dramatically avant-garde watches.
Using the 6498 as a starting point to redesign the movement bridges and main plate, incorporate a screwed balance with swan neck regulator, and add higher-end finishing takes a nicely engineered movement and turn it into something for a more discerning crowd.
Mirror polishing, beveling, and gold plating create something worthy of the price point but also keep it from running away from itself.
Too often watches over-promise and end up under-delivering and this watch avoids all of that. The dial is lovely and uses two key features to refrain from looking like a cheap mass-produced dial often found on watches at all different levels.
The angled brushing and engraved stars, which reminded me of the rain in Blade Runner, add a lot of visual movement across the dial, using the stars to keep your eyes darting around. This simple trick to avoid vertical or circular brushing and add random focal points uses less detail to create a more impactful design.
Layering the details instead of cramming things together is another way. The floating chapter ring printed on the sapphire adds depth thanks to the shadows cast across the dial, while the simplicity of the ring keeps from distracting too much.
The hands are another example of avoiding complexity yet adding flavor. The hands are made from two pieces of titanium and steel, one with a DLC coating to add contrast to the tips for easy reading of the time and angular motion from the extreme taper.
Partnerships & choices
Everything works together to produce something visually interesting, yet each detail is itself extremely simple, not plain, but simple. This is able to work successfully because of Gallaugher’s choice to work with DK Precision Mechanics in Glashütte. The company helped design and produce the movements as well as other components, plus work on assembly essentially working as a full contract manufacturer for O.G.
With that amount of expertise and control at every stage, the brand didn’t need to worry about an overseas supplier producing something too similar to its already existing products.
The case fits the movement like a silk glove, without any extra case material or centering rings to take up wasted space, helping the bezel and case back be as thin as possible. This also allowed O.G. to keep the watch thickness to a very cuff friendly 10.5 mm, turning the Deep Space into a contender for a perfect everyday watch.
As any good designer would do, Gallaugher also designed a custom buckle to match the O.G. aesthetic and allow for a comfortable fit to the strap. This is a minor thing for most people, but consciously choosing every aspect of the fit and wearing experience can make for a much more consistent product.
It is this attention to design and the decision to work with a small company to control production that signals a new norm arising in the watch industry. Typically, when an entrepreneur with no watch world experience or connections wants to start a watch brand, they look to the east and enter the market as a microbrand, often avoiding wading into the higher price ranges because the small “Kickstarter” brands can’t compete on these levels. But in this case, it shows that a watch can be packed with a good amount of value of design and mechanics without sacrificing purity of purpose.
Understanding the assignment
A watch that is priced at roughly ten thousand dollars is not a cheap watch, but it is at the high end of what the entry level watch aficionado could arguably consider purchasing after saving up for a while.
As I stated earlier, it is an extremely saturated market as well, since this is where most of the high-end brands start their own offerings, making it very hard for a new brand appear and make a dent. As a result, the true entry level market has itself become oversaturated with literally hundreds of options below $2,000, making it just as crowded a place to start as any.
So this is where the choice to avoid the Kickstarter/microbrand route could be changing as companies like DK Precision Mechanics can provide contract manufacturing for small batch limited editions, something often reserved for the true independent brands that price their watches at five to ten times the price of the O.G. Deep Space.
Having seen clips of Gallaugher’s notebooks with hundreds of design ideas, it is obvious that for the first piece from the brand he decided to keep it as simple as possible and squeeze out as much detail for the least amount of manufacturing cost.
That is the sign of a good designer, one that knows when to hold back. With a few more limited releases focusing on design and simplicity O.G. could be poised to start exploring more complex ideas, something Gallaugher has openly stated is the plan for his new brand.
Knowing quite a few watchmakers and entrepreneurs that have started their own brand (or other businesses) it seems that O.G. understands the risky nature of making a new luxury brand and is looking to make the best quality watches that regular collectors could afford using what very well might become a new model for start-up brands.
This could even see the rise in contract manufacture specialists arising in Switzerland, Germany, the UK, and the US to service the small batch connoisseur horology companies. I for one would love this to be the case, in fact, I could even see myself going that route someday to support awesome projects like this.
I don’t know what the future holds, but if O.G. can parlay the Deep Space into a series of limited editions (beginning what O.G. calls the “Lyrical Series”) it could be a proof of concept for high-entry-level brands to explore concepts that all of us regular collectors could hope to support.
It seems like the Deep Space could evoke enough emotion (and at least one memory of Blade Runner) to find the audience hoping to help build the industry from the bottom with all the creative younger talent tossing their hat in the ring.
As I continue wanting to drop everything and watch Blade Runner let’s try to break this one down!
- Wowza Factor * 8.8 It’s hard for a watch that so strongly reminded me of the sci-fi classic Blade Runner to not elicit a pretty substantial wowza!
- Late Night Lust Appeal * 88 » 862.985m/s2 When in deep space you don’t feel any g-force unless your ship is accelerating so it would seem that this one is on the move!
- M.G.R. * 52.9 A very well finished take on the classic ETA 6498, the GUY-1 should provide years of reliable and accurate timekeeping while looking great!
- Added-Functionitis * N/A Time only, mine only! So many people love a time only watch and I understand the desire, still it’s okay to skip the Gotta-HAVE-That cream while enjoying this one!
- Ouch Outline * 8.8 Surprising sunburn! There are color changing sunscreens for a reason, it is very easy to forget to apply it to an important area, like getting your legs and arms but forgetting your face. A new Rudolph aesthetic besides, I would take that risk again if it meant getting the Deep Space on my wrist!
- Mermaid Moment * Oh my sci-fi dreams! I have a strong connection to film and cinematic imagery, so a watch that reminds me of such an iconic scene as the Batty death scene in Blade Runner will have me falling head over heels in no time!
- Awesome Total * 828 Begin by taking the price of the Deep Space in British Pounds (7,800) and divide by the number of pieces in the limited edition (10), then add the hours of power reserve (48) to find yourself lost in space with a stellar awesome total!
For more information, please www.olivergallaugher.com/#watches.
Quick Facts O.G. Deep Space
Case: 41 x 10.5 mm, 316L stainless steel
Movement: manually wound GUY-1 (ETA 6498 base), 48-hour power reserve, 18,000 vph/2.5Hz
Functions: Hours, minutes
Limitation: 10 pieces
Price: £7,800 (approximately $10,200)