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The Watch Pocket Project: WP1


Hello everyone, todays post is a small work that feels like a departure from some of my other design editions. 

This work has a little more of a utilitarian feel and some rather overt accessory references, but nonetheless is a necessary step on my machinist artist journey. 

When I think about the decorative objects that I have coveted in my lifetime, one thing that immediately comes to mind for me is the handful of pocket watches I have owned. It seems somehow I have been working all this time completely oblivious to a bit of self knowledge that now seems totally obvious. 

I grew up during the 80’s and 90’s. During that time, pocket watches weren't cool (were they ever?) and most people didn't have them, but for some reason or another, I kept ending up with them. Not because I needed to know the time. but because I was drawn to them for tactile reasons. They were (and are) just nice objects to hold and fiddle with. 

Even now I have one at my desk that I turn over in my hands from time to time.

So recently, I got into a conversation with someone who asked why I couldn't make my other pocket sculptures even smaller. My reply was simply that experience showed me that anything smaller was prone to being easily dropped and damaged. A human hand can only hold objects of a certain size securely, anything smaller and things start slipping through our fingers. “To make it smaller” I said “ it would need to be on a chain”.

“Great idea” they said.

And then I stopped and thought about it. The idea of the chain brought me immediately to the humble pocket watches I have known (and my gross oversight as an artist). It all finally clicked and I was off down this really fun rabbit hole. 

Once I settled on the pocket watch as a conceptual idea, I set about the process of bending all that towards something that straddled the line between utility and sculpture. I am calling this work the WP1, and it is likely the first in a series of "Watch Pocket Art".

The work as designed can be strung on a chain and worn like a standard pocket watch, put on a lanyard, or anything else really. 

Just please promise me you won't put it on a keychain. I can't bear the thought of this beautiful piece being reduced to a mere key ring, or being clobbered by a mass of keys. 

To aid with discussions about this work, I am using watch nomenclature to describe its parts. Above we have the "Long hand" in anodized aluminum, and the "Lens" in Pink Box Elder. The remaining parts are in Stainless steel. 

The mechanics of this piece are pretty fun. I really like big chunky mechanisms that are easy to understand, and so I have created a ratcheting mechanism that utilizes a stacked set of detents rather than a common pawl lock. You can move the long hand of the work lever-like to index the lens and short hand around in a tick tock fashion. You can also palm the work and operate it one handed if you have a little finger dexterity. 

I do my best to explain all this in detail in the video below but here is a picture showing a standard pawl mechanism next to my arrangement.

As you can see, unlike a clock motion, the assembly is relatively large and comprehensible, which makes it easier to appreciate. Regardless there is a lot that goes into crafting each of the unique components in this piece and I am continuing to refine the design even now. 

Given its overtly decorative nature, this is one of the few projects where it feels appropriate for me to really mix, match, and explore a wide range of material combinations. So both hardwoods and exotic metals are on the table this time around. albeit with some limitations due to the process I have set up to fabricate these parts. More on this later.

For now I hope you will enjoy this clockwork kinetic sculpture. 

Notes for collectors: As has become customary, these works will be produced as part of a one time, limited edition.

For those interested in adding this sculpture to your collections, the sign-up for the pre-order will go live on Monday August 7th at 11AM EST.

A link will go out via newsletter, as well appear on my blog and Instagram profile (@c_bathgate). Pricing and other details of the sale will be available on the sign up form.

There is going to be a lot of information on this sign up, and a lot of options as well, so if you plan to add your name to the list, maybe start envisioning a few ideas of what you might like your work to look like. 

I think I am going to offer the Lens (or dial) in a wide range of hardwoods, as well as Mokume-gane, Titanium Damascus, and superconductor. 

The hands will be available in either stainless steel or anodized aluminum (aluminum can be dyed within my standard color pallet)

I will offer the bezel in either stainless, brass, or Mokume-gane. (Maybe also Ti-mascus or SC but the size and complexity of this element will require special considerations that will make this a pricy option)

All other parts will be stainless only. 

As far as the chain: My initial thought was to supply this with a pretty generic chain, but after talking to people and realizing how varied preferences were, I actually think it is best to leave it up to individual collectors. Some have expressed the desire to put it on a lanyard, others prefer precious metal chains, some have mentioned leather fobs, and even one mentioned they have a custom chain made by another maker. 

So I think given that it is an element that I do not intend to craft myself, it really is optional. I can link to the chain pictured above, and even recommend a few makers doing some crazy stuff.

I do not mean to punt on the chain, but to do it justice, it would really have to be it's own project. Which is to say that I have already started discussing a collaboration along those lines with other makers. Time will tell.

OK, that is all for now, I will have more info and pricing on the sign up when it goes live. See some of you next week. And as always, comments and questions are welcome.