Azimuth Predator 2.0
The Azimuth Predator 2.0 is a neoteric timepiece from Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Designer Steve Huyton, a gentleman with a passion for independent watchmaking, discusses this paragon of avant-garde horology.
A few years ago I visited Singapore on a business trip/family vacation. The week was highly enjoyable and we got to see tourist hotspots like ‘Gardens by the Bay’, Chinatown, Orchard Road, etc. However, my main priority was meeting some of the movers and shakers in the watch industry. For many years I had followed the progress of independent watchmaker Azimuth. I was therefore delighted to meet Alvin Lye who co-founded the business with Chris Long in 2003. Over the last few years, the brand has developed an almost cult-like following. Even more impressively, the firm’s innovative timepieces are within reach of most discerning buyers.
Approximately 10-years ago, the watch industry was a totally different entity than it is today. Back then, mainstream brands were still playing it relatively safe in terms of the shape and size of their timepieces. If you wanted something entirely different you had to purchase creations from independent marques like Cabestan, De Bethune, MB & F, Urwerk, etc. Given the price point of these brand’s timepieces, this would have been outside the realms of possibility for most people. Essentially Azimuth set out to redress the balance by offering innovative designs at relatively affordable prices. In my opinion, their distinctive Mr Roboto (based on the Lantern Robot of the 1950s) proved a real game changer.
After several years of success, Azimuth decided to massively up their game and shifted operations from Singapore to Neuchâtel, Switzerland. At this stage, they also brought on board Swiss watchmaker Giuseppe Picchi, making him a partner and drawing upon his vast technical expertise. Subsequently, Alvin Lye became engaged in different projects and Chris Long took the helm. Utilising his mechanical engineering background, love of Sci-Fi and classic automobiles the brand has matured. Recent watches like the Crazy Rider, Gran Turismo, Mr Roboto 2 and the Twin Turbo are incredibly sophisticated. The company has also just released a second version of the Predator, which is absolutely phenomenal.
As a designer, I am always interested to see sketches of watches at the concept stage. During conversations with Chris Long, we discussed how the aesthetic of the Predator 2.0 might vary from its predecessor. Ultimately Chris wanted to modify certain elements of the design and, in my opinion, he’s achieved this. In essence, he has stayed true to the original concept but improved the overall composition. I love the new enlarged angular titanium case which has a sophisticated architectural appearance. Other subtle refinements include an asymmetrical bezel with Perlage decoration and oversized, bold white numerals.
The original Predator was powered by the widely used, Swiss made Unitas 6497-1 movement. For the 2019 version, Azimuth wanted to create something far more exclusive, producing a bespoke calibre using the architecture of a Unitas as the baseplate, but fabricating the bridges from aluminium. Not only does this vastly decrease the weight of the watch, but it has also enabled Azimuth to offer several different colour variants like electric blue, crimson orange, red, black, gold and silver.
Personally, I feel the Predator 2.0 is Azimuth’s finest achievement to date. Over the last few days, I have been wearing this amazing watch and have found it sits comfortably on the wrist. Considering the size of the piece (53mm with the carrier) it is practical for most occasions, except perhaps extreme sports. Details like the oversized three-dimensional minute hand with ‘Mystery’ jumping hour indication (rotating disc) imbue the watch with a wonderfully luxurious appearance. Add the domed crystal into the mix and you are getting into the visual realms of a timepiece like the phenomenal ‘Deep Space’ from Vianney Halter at a fraction of the price.
The Predator 2.0 is presented on a rubber strap with an engraved folding clasp and is priced competitively at CHF 5,850.