18/06/2024 9:10 PM


Piece of That Fashion

U.S. Military Veterans Helped Design a Watch Collection

U.S. Military Veterans Helped Design a Watch Collection

Bausele, an independent watch brand based in Australia, has been known to fill watch crowns with sand from Bondi Beach or pulverized tiles from the Sydney Opera House. Now it is focused on a different claim to fame: It wants to be known as a “compassionate brand,” said Arron Coote, the chief executive of the 11-year-old business, who is based in the United States.

So Bausele has begun what its founder, Christophe Hoppé, described in an email as “an unprecedented collaboration with U.S. military veterans, both in designing the watches and assembling them in the U.S.”

The result: the two automatic designs in the MIL-SPEC Collection, which Mr. Coote and Mr. Hoppé said represent the brand’s first major move into the American market.

Bausele worked with veterans associations to find eight men and women who had served in Afghanistan or Iraq and would collaborate with Mr. Hoppé on design features, such as the shape and dimensions of the cases, what kind of movement should be used and even the packaging.

The timepieces, Mr. Coote said, meet “specifications established in a 1999 Defense Department document on how to make a watch that is approved for the U.S. military.”

(Its “musts” include durability and a clear dial with no distracting labeling.)

The veterans decided that the watch “had to be super comfortable for every wrist, which led to using the elastic fabric NATO strap, which we had never done before,” Mr. Coote said (a buyer may choose among a selection of straps).

In keeping with Bausele’s practice of filling watch crowns with some kind of meaningful material, these models are to contain a mix of earth from the five most-populous military bases in the U.S. — Forts Bragg, Campbell, Hood, Leonard Wood and Benning.

There are two references: a 38-millimeter Field Watch with a Seiko movement ($700) and a 39.5-millimeter Diver Watch with a movement made by Sellita ($1,200). The parts are being made in Switzerland and China with the watches assembled at Stoll & Co., a watch service center in Dayton, Ohio, that markets itself as America’s Watchmaker and employs veterans. Mr. Coote said 10 percent of the sales price will go to veterans’ charities.

The watches will be sold on Bausele’s website; preorders for the Field Watch began in late October, with delivery promised in January. The Diver Watch is scheduled to be available in February.

Bausele has a tradition of creating limited-edition timepieces with the military closer to home. Earlier this year, for example, it collaborated with the Australian Intelligence Corps, a division of the Australian Army, to create a second set of 150 watches containing sand from the Queensland area where the corps originated (the first set was created in 2017).

And last year it produced a second set of 150 watches for the Special Operations Engineer Regiment of the Australian Army, with sand in the crown from Afghanistan, where the regiment had served (the first set was created in 2018).

Bausele also was the official watch of the Invictus Games held in April at The Hague, the Netherlands, a sports competition for injured or chronically ill veterans or active duty military.

Last year the brand created two limited-edition watches totaling 1,750 pieces for the Royal Australian Air Force’s 100th anniversary; it said $66,000 was raised through sales to help restore old airplanes.

Mr. Coote noted that not all the injuries servicemen and women suffer are physical — adding that he had experienced a nervous breakdown in his early 20s — so he felt the watch design project might help raise some veterans’ self-esteem as well.

At least one of the participants seemed to agree.

Rohan Martin, a U.S. Army combat medic who served during the 1990-1991 Gulf War and now lives in Stafford, Va., wrote in an email: “It was a tremendous feeling of recognition and inclusion to be a part of the Bausele Army Watch design team.”