Yes, guys, this is the first time we have a tourbillon watch in for the review! Before this, the only tourbillon watch I have seen in the flesh was one of the IWC watches, but that was so much money that I think we could never get it in for review even if I sell my kidney 😀 But today we have a tourbillon watch from a company called ERA. And it only costs 1499$ rather than 5 figures or even more as most of them cost.
In horology, a tourbillon (French “whirlwind”) is an addition to the mechanics of a watch escapement. Developed around 1795 and patented by the French-Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet on June 26, 1801, a tourbillon aims to counter the effects of gravity by mounting the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage, to negate the effect of gravity when the timepiece (thus the escapement) is stuck in a certain position. By continuously rotating the entire balance wheel/escapement assembly at a slow rate (typically about one revolution per minute), the tourbillon averages out positional errors.
Originally an attempt to improve accuracy, tourbillons are now included in some expensive modern watches as a novelty and demonstration of watchmaking virtuosity. The mechanism is usually exposed on the watch’s face to show it off. Many watch enthusiasts and experts call it the most useful complication, as in the modern days it really is more of a show-off for the companies and they can put huge price tags on them!
The company is called ERA Timepieces. From what I understand they are from the United States. At the end of 2018, they launched their Kickstarter project where they got 722 backers who pledged whopping $766,968 to help bring this project to life. Right along the Kickstarter they also launched IndieGoGo project where they got even more funding, record-breaking $1076606! So the company has a lot of success and I congratulate the founder of the company Michael Galarza!
They have two versions of the Prometheus tourbillon models. The one we have here on the review is the Prometheus with all stainless steel case and the price is 1499$. Then there is a more luxurious version called Prometheus Titan Edition which has three bezel options: stainless steel, brushed titanium or platinum. And each Titan Edition features over 2.3 carats and over 78 diamonds that have been fused with the bezel and stretched around all surrounding metallic surfaces. All diamonds are Bright cut round GH coloured diamonds with a clarity of VS1. And this version costs $6500. All the versions have 10 straps and bracelets in total to choose from, so you can find the one you like and suits your style the most.
Before we take a closer look at the watch, let’s talk with the ERA Timepieces founder Michael Galarza:
What started your watch passion?
So I’ve been enthralled with timepieces since before I could read and write. One of my earliest memories is sitting in the corner of the room, with my ear to a pocket watch that my father owned, listening to its rhythmic beating.
As an adult, I created a boutique luxury goods sourcing and distribution business that specialized in helping companies find the highest quality suppliers worldwide. From the farms that provide the wool that eventually go into a famous British brand’s hallmark checkered cashmere scarves to the leatherworkers who produce leather bags for famous French and Italian brands, I think I have a knack for identifying the world’s absolute best quality producers in emerging economies.
As I got to know the producers better, I came to a realization that the actual price I could get these same products made for was many times 10% or 5% of what the eventual retail markup was — far below what the famous luxury brands charged for them and much higher than the usual markups in standard wholesaling. I realized that the crazy markup was required for these brands to keep paying for celebrity endorsements and sponsoring global sporting events to try to increase brand strength.
The luxury watch segment of the market was especially egregious, as I got to know more master watchmakers and boutique horological shops that made turnkey watches for large Swiss conglomerates, who would use a loophole in the weakness of the trade directive term “Swiss Made” to just ship an engraved rotor from Switzerland to China, and then source and make 100% of the rest of the watch there, and then it would ship directly to its final point of sale.
And so I decided to see if there was a market for people who cared about receiving a quality timepiece without an overly inflated budget for marketing dollars, who wanted a true timepiece that was worth its value. And so I decided to create a quality dependable Tourbillon timepiece that would be under $1000 that would still have all the hallmarks found in higher end watches.
That was how the ERA Prometheus was born.
What makes a good wristwatch to you?
A good wristwatch is one that helps represent who you are as a person in life. Ultimately you have to be happy with whatever you decide to wear, and if wearing something that someone turns their nose up at makes you happy, that is 100% what you should do because you’re the only person whose opinion matters in the end.
ERA is the embodiment of that. It’s a reflection of my story, of my own reference experiences in life, and trying to bring something to life that a specific segment of the world loves.
I find that too many people get caught up in the hipster trend of overvaluing “hand-finished” elitism as the only value of worth. Just because every miscellaneous part needed to be hand-lathed in the 1790’s when Breguet made the Tourbillon doesn’t mean it needs to be done now in some hipster fashion in order for the timepiece to have integrity.
What watches do you have in your personal collection? And maybe you could list them or tell an interesting story about one particular one?
In the past, I’ve owned an Audemars Royal Oak Safari that was my favourite for quite a while, a Hublot Big Bang, Omega Seamaster, and a Panerai Luminor Marina
I’ve gotten rid of most of the non-ERA watches in my collection simply because I am always testing out new prototypes of our future lines of timepieces and other things out personally to make sure everything is perfect about them. And really at this point, I wouldn’t have it any other way as there is simply no timepiece that would mean as much to me as an ERA. One is the culmination of all my hopes, dreams, and represents the struggle to bring my creation to life, whereas even wearing a generic Rolex is just joining the mass cult of people who have been brainwashed into thinking it’s some sort of success symbol (and ignoring the hundreds of thousands of people who buy new Rolexes every year)
Who is your ideal customer?
The core ERA customer is a mover and shaker in the world. They don’t get told what to do, they see what they want in life and go and take it. At least 70% of them own their own companies or are in some profession where they need to go out in the world and produce results period. They don’t wait around for someone to promote them, they seize the world. In short, I’ve seen that they largely reflect my own personality and values in life which makes sense because the entire brand identity and my story to get the brand to where we are is a reflection of that, and that is why they chose to wear an ERA timepiece.
Tell about what you like to do outside of watches. Where do you find inspiration for your work?
My interests are pretty much Business, supply chain logistics, new technology that has the potential to disrupt the way things are traditionally done, and worldwide travel. Anything centered around improving my person and seeing what people are doing that’s shaking things up in other industries worldwide.
How do you see your watch brand in the future?
Tightening up our brand identity and launching more lines of timepieces. I know that clearly not everyone wants a Skeletal tourbillon. It’s a very loud piece, and while there are huge swaths of people who like that, we’re going to be doing all the most popular styles eventually. We have a line that will be coming out in mid Spring 2019 with a complication rarely seen from any watch maker worldwide, and never before seen in conjunction with a Tourbillon. One of the variants will be a Swiss movement Diver with that rare complication. We’ll be making a simpler classic dress timepiece with just a Tourbillon in it that is smaller in size for both men and women as well. Our identity is still going to be focused on bringing more rare and haute complications at a fraction of the price to our customers. We will always be aiming to make timepieces that show just how unique our customers’ life stories are.
What was the hardest part of creating a microbrand watch company?
The temptation to keep overdelivering to my customers. I do not think there is a creator out there that provides the level of service / care I did for my backers, and pair that with significant supply chain & logistics experience and I was trying to make things happen in timelines that really shouldn’t have been possible, and some of the minor mishaps from overly aggressive timelines stemmed from that.
Any suggestions to someone who wants to make their own microbrand watch?
Cater to your core demographic. Find and validate whether that core true fan really resonates with your design and your product/story. Do not ever assume anything, test everything out before you make a decision. Trust data and statistics, because they are immutable as long as you carry the experiments out in a scientific and regimented manner.
So let’s dive into the review! The watch arrived pretty fast and the bo was pretty big. You take off the cardboard outer and you will find a box wrapped in ERA logo signed paper with wax seal stamp with ERA logo. You really can see that they take a lot of attention to the unboxing experience. Outside the beautiful signed piano finish wooden box you will find a brochure with all the idea behind the company, how to operate the tourbillon movement and other details. Also outside the box, you will find the warranty/authenticity card which is made from steel. Inside the box, you will only find the watch. On the backside of the box, we have a plack with the matching number on your watch and authenticity card. The first impressions were just wow! I was waiting to review this one for a long time since I saw the project! I always wanted to check out tourbillon movement watch, and I’m happy that I’m starting with one of the affordable ones you can buy as Swiss tourbillons start at 15000$ up to 6 figures
ERA makes a bit controversial slogan “The World’s FIRST Affordable Tourbillon” because there are many brands before which already made or are still making tourbillon watches for even less than ERA is selling them. Sturhling, Android and even Sea-Gull have a lot of models. Basically, there are a ton of companies who make tourbillon watches for less than 500$. That is probably the one thing I don’t like about this company. Yes, I understand they need to stand out and everything, but you can always do this the honest way, don’t say things like that if it isn’t true. I also noticed a bit strange responses from them in the comment section on their facebook page. But ok, we aren’t here to discuss their business model, we are here for the watch, so let’s begin!
The case of the Prometheus Tourbillon is made of 316L stainless steel. The case is very well made with very nice, sharp lines. Everything lines up very good and feels in general like a very well built case. The whole case has a high-polish finish which is also done to the highest standards. The case is shape is round with widely places lugs. The diameter of the case is 44mm, the thickness is 12,7mm and from lug to lug it measures at 51mm. Yes, the watch is pretty big and I think that is due to the movement being quite big, although I saw a 42mm watch from a different company with the same movement. But any case on the wrist it wears quite good, it doesn’t look too big on my middle sized wrist and sits just right. At 3 o’clock we have a signed push-pull crown. Despite the crown being big, it is a bit too hard to grip it to wind up the movement. The indentations give some grip, but not enough so I hope they will look into this more in their net watches. The exhibition case back is held on with 8 small screws. Around the case back ring, we have some specifications and the unit number engraved on it. The crystal on the back is a flat sapphire crystal. On the front you will also find a flat sapphire crystal, but with an AR coating. The water resistance is 5ATM (50m) so no swimming guys, but I don’t know why would you want to go swimming with your tourbillon watch, ha ha.
The dial on this watch is skeletonized that looks like inspired by “Art Nouveau”. Each detail on the dial is carefully considered from the exposed hand engraved gears/bridges to the perfectly sculpted blue hour/minute hands. However main attention is getting the exposed tourbillon carriage which also can be used as seconds hand as it goes around. Around the dial, we have a dark blue ring with a minute track in white and for hour markers we have lumed squares which is a bit odd choice as lume and classic looking tourbillon doesn’t go together in my opinion. But on the bright side, it adds a bit more functionality and legibility in the night. At 9 o’clock we have a 24h subdial with ERA logo in the centre which is a very clever way to put the logo on the dial as it is so subtle. As a graphic designer I kind of like the ERA logo, it is a pretty clever design. At 3 o’clock we have a blue and gold moon phase dial which is a nice addition and gives the dial symmetry. The lume is on the hour markers and all the hands, even on the 24h subdial. And I gotta say that it is pretty good and long lasting. I usually tend to not like a skeleton watches, but this one is done pretty good, plus the exposed tourbillon carriage is just something you can watch for hours.
The movement inside the watch is the Caliber HZ3360A which is a Chinese tourbillon hand wound movement. Before you say China is bad and everything, I have to say that the watches they make right now, are amazing and the quality is sometimes much better than Swiss counterparts that cost 10-100 times more. The movement features the Single-Axis Tourbillon. The movement comprises 20-jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour and has a 35h power reserve. It features hours, minutes, GMT (dual timezone display) and sun-moon/time of day indications (located at 3 o’clock). When it comes to precision, it is pretty good. I was expecting less accuracy. Mine example is running at +3,9 to +5 seconds a day which is in COSC specifications. My only concerns are, what happens when the time to service the movement comes? As tourbillons have parts that move tens of thousands of times a day, and over a few years the lubricating oil inside evaporates and parts wear down, and so servicing a mechanical timepiece every 3 years is absolutely essential. Now if you’re familiar with servicing any Swiss mechanical watch, you’ll know they don’t ever charge less than $450 and that’s not counting shipping or other extra fees for parts etc. For many brands, servicing a tourbillon starts between $1500 and $4000 USD. But ERA assured me that they thought out everything. That’s why they have an extremely lucrative flat-rate of only $225 servicing fee that covers parts, labour, and express global DHL shipping with 100% insurance both to our service centre and back to you for just $225. In my opinion that is very cheap! Some people have asked me if this company would be still active when the servicing time comes, and I think yes, as they have raised almost 2 million $.
The strap that I chose for my sample is the black Hornback style leather strap with contrasting blue stitching. The strap is pretty wide with 24mm at lugs and tapering to 22mm at the signed tang style buckle. The leather feels pretty soft and the strap is very supple and wraps your wrist beautifully! The underside is lined with beige leather and has white stitching. The thing I like is that each strap from ERA comes with quick release spring bars already installed so changing straps will be really fast. There are also a couple of other straps in different colours and also a stainless steel bracelet. You can also choose the length between regular and large, so that is a good option for larger guys. I hope they will add more straps in the future and also use alligator, lizard or snake leathers, I think it would add more value and it would look killer!
Overall I’m very impressed by the watch. Since I saw that these Chinese made tourbillon movement watches are so accessible. I always wanted to check them out and I’m very grateful that ERA Timepieces gave me an opportunity to check their timepiece! Since I received it just after Christmas I wore it almost every day and it performed flawlessly! The price is a bit big in my opinion as there are watches with the same movement for half the price, but you have to take in mind that building a brand new company and designing the watch takes a lot of time and money. For the price of 1499$ you get a well-made case, tourbillon movement, sapphire crystal on front and back, great lume and in my opinion nice design! Can I suggest buying this watch? I think yes, this is a really great way to experience Haute-Horlogerie complication for an affordable price.
- MODEL VERSIONS
Prometheus Standard Edition in:
Hand-Polished 316L Grade Stainless Steel / Brushed Titanium
- Prometheus Titan Edition in:
Platinum / Hand-Polished 316L Grade Stainless Steel / Brushed Titanium
- WINDING CROWN
Elegant Spiral / Brushed Hex
Ultra Scratch-resistant Sapphire Glass With Anti-Reflective Coating
- WATER RESISTANCE
5 ATM / 50 meters
- TITAN ADDITIONAL FEATURE
78+ diamonds weighing 2.3+ carats fused into the entire bezel of the watch, all Bright cut round GH colored diamonds with a clarity of VS1
- TITAN ADDITIONAL FEATURE
Ability to customize/engrave the back of the watch with a message
Single-Axis Tourbillon Movement, Manual Self-Wind, GMT Hour Hand, Sun/Moon Time of Day Indicator
Regulated To +/- 10 sec
Centre hour and minute hands, Second time zone with independent setting of the hour hand, Time of Day Indicator, Seconds hand functionality through revolution of Tourbillon complication
- POWER RESERVE
Hornback Style Leather Strap With Quick Release Bars
- STRAP DIMENSIONS
- STRAP MATERIAL
100% Genuine Leather
Premium Double-Stitched Threading
Folding ERA Butterfly Clasp
- WATCH BOX
Custom Crafted Wooden Box
2 Year International Warranty
Anodized Jet Black Steel Warranty Card & Certificate of Authenticity, Laser cut and laser etched