Zero West use scarce historical metal within some of their watch designs. It has become the USP of the brand, and, depending on your specific interest, integrating these fantastic elements into a watch will pique your interest. Their portfolio has included case backs with metal from WW2 Dam Buster Lancasters, to 1950s racing Aston Martins, and their latest creation is equally impressive and noteworthy. The FS-1 and FS-2 incorporate metal from a boiler tube of the most famous steam train of all time - The Flying Scotsman.
Flying Scotsman was the first locomotive to transport passengers and freight on a non-stop service from Kings Cross London to Edinburgh and, most memorably, the first train to achieve an authenticated 100mph consistently. This machine is nothing short of a legend in railway enthusiast's circles. It has become a symbol of a bygone era of superlative and innovative engineering – with many parallels to the watch industry.
Zero West was first approached by the Science Museum in London over two years ago to explore a project which would be part of the 100th anniversary celebrations of the steam train. After considerable negotiation and drafting a 30-page do's and don'ts contract, the Zero West team were finally granted access to small segments of a boiler tube from the original engine, which had been removed for refurbishment. Zero West was selected for this as the Museum and historical railway organisation felt they would approach the project with the right amount of invention and design sympathy.
The challenge, of course, was to integrate this somehow into contemporary watches. The results were two designs now available – the FS-1 and FS-2.
FS-1 – Limited to 100 pieces
The new Zero West FS-1 takes design inspiration from the gauges within the cab of the original steam locomotive. The watch dial has accurate numerals inspired by the cab engine display. It shows a precise latitude and longitude coordinate, which denotes the accurate location of the Doncaster Works where Flying Scotsman was designed and rolled out. The ethos of the watch was to replicate the look of the dials and gauges that the drivers on the footplate of the train would see. Much in the way that Zero West successfully showed this design skill with WW2 Spitfire Cockpit dials on the S-Range.
Powering the FS-1 is not steam but a 'Premium Grade' SW200-1 automatic movement with a power reserve of 38 hours and 26 jewels. The Premium movement is adjusted in five positions and offers impressive accuracy of +/-4 sec/day up to +/- 15 sec/day.
The showpiece of this 41mm watch is, of course, the large exhibition back. The boiler tube's obtained parts were expertly hand-turned into 200 precision disc inserts 1.2mm thick through their collaboration with the National Railway Museum, part of the Science Museum.
This complex process first involved removing a hundred years of dirt and baked-on fouling. Hours of work by artisans involved scraping and media blasting, eventually exposing a useable surface which, although still blemished, had a beautiful worn patina which showed that it was still a part of the original engine. Each of the 200 discs was then laser engraved with the actual Flying Scotsman 1472 serial number and set into the watch back.
But why 200 discs? Because Zero West had a second phase of the Flying Scotsman project planned.
FS-2 – Limited to 100 pieces
In Zero West's words, this is a dressy tool watch. We find a brushed silvered ring with facets that catch the light and a black dial, a homage to the famous clock that hung over Platform 8 at Kings Cross Station, where the Flying Scotsman embarked on each journey. Chrome-applied numerals add further visual interest to what is a very contemporary watch. The latitude and longitude reference of the Doncaster Works is still present.
Like the FS-1, the case is 41mm in diameter and made from 316L polished stainless steel. With a height of just 13.1mm and a lug-to-lug of 46.3mm, the FS-1 and FS-1 will fit nicely on most wrists.
The case back of the watch is also polished, displaying a diamond-turned aluminium insert housing the hand-finished disk with the slice of the Flying Scotsman boiler tube. The disk is set behind sapphire crystal for preservation.
Both watches are water resistant to 100M and have a custom sapphire crystal primary lens. Industry-leading Super Luminova X1 guarantees low-light legibility, and an aerospace-grade cross-linked fluor elastomer rubber strap keeps the whole package in place.
The Zero West Flying Scotsman watches are so unique and exciting that they are fascinating even to non-train enthusiasts. Look at the manufacturing information videos on ZW's website, and you will begin to appreciate the magnitude of what this 100-year-old steam locomotive achieved, as this is the real magic of these watches. To own a part of the Flying Scotsman, however small, and have that contained in a beautiful high-end watch is very special.
The FS-1 and FS-2 are available now priced at £3600. Go over to the Zero West website for further details.
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