When we first heard that the original Coniston’s movement, the beating heart of any mechanical watch, was soon to be retired, we were shocked and saddened - we had planned to produce variations of the Coniston for many years to come. The design had resonated with fans of the Campbell Family legacy, speed records, dream chasers and motorsport enthusiasts all around the world. The movement was integral to that resonance for it looked, and worked, so beautifully. Hand crank movements usually have all the workings on display, but the movement we used - the 8N33 - was even more enchanting as it was skeletonised; the workings were revealed through machined bridges and base plates.
Our conundrum however was short-lived, for the 8N33s automatic sibling, the 8N24, was equally captivating with its skeletonised frame and attractive specification. There was a slight difference though, in both shape and profile - the 8N24 was a little larger and wouldn’t fit the case of the original Coniston. We could either adapt the existing Coniston design to accept this new movement or build upon the expertise and experience gathered in the years since the original concept - we chose to build, develop and improve the Coniston design, and in doing so, open up a fresh chapter in the Coniston story.
It’s fitting that this more mature, wiser Coniston, has again been designed in partnership with the Campbell Family Heritage Trust - celebrating with renewed enthusiasm the family’s history of speed chasing and dream capturing - with proceeds of each watch going to support and promote the incredible legacy of the Campbell family.
Exciting the Eye
One of our biggest learnings from the past 4 or 5 years is the ability to use little details, almost imperceptible to the eye, that improve the aesthetic quality of a watch immeasurably. Small elements of polished steel or paints used in certain ways, with different finishing techniques, that enhance the user experience adding contrast and legibility.
The Coniston Automatic has the same framework of dial construction as the original, using an outer bezel that sits just underneath the crystal and angles downwards steeply towards a moat of illumination - a white ring of luminescent material that glows brightly at night. The bezel on this iteration has a subtly polished chamfer on the edge that joins these two faces, and adds a little visual sparkle that moves constantly as your wrist does.
In the centre of the dial the plateau has changed ever so slightly too, with an overall larger diameter improving the surface upon which we can work with. We’ve used 12 slightly longer batons on this iteration, which are polished and cantilevered outwards onto the luminous moat, improving legibility and uniformity through symmetry and balance. There’s also a contrasting edge detail unique to each colourway.
The hour and minute hands have remained very much the same - we were reluctant to change the style as they are synonymous with the Coniston design - especially the way the skeletonised construction reveals, when the hands overlap, the luminous segment from the hour hand through the minute hand - forming a single glowing hand. However, we have changed the running seconds hand to feature a counter-weight and pronounced arrowhead - something we knew would improve this iteration of the Coniston and not distract from the design DNA.
The case design is the biggest change for this new iteration of the Coniston, which was a result of the larger Miyota 8N24 movement due to the automatic rotor. We wanted to re-think the design for the case to not only represent the learnings of the past few years, but also to resonate with the history of speed records and the inimitable courage of Sir Malcolm Campbell and his son, Donald.
As such, we did a number of things. The first was to change the form of the case to allow for a more flowing, machine like aesthetic. There’s now an unbroken line from lug to lug, curving around the case in one smooth arc. The angles of the caseback, when attached to your wrist, reduce the visual height of the watch, making for a super-slim wearing watch construction.
We’ve added a knurled section on the case above the lug level. When you think of mechanical things - engines, switchgear, caps and bearings - there’s always product semantics involved (i.e. operational requirements for grip and rotation). The knurling of metal is an easy way to offer mechanical grip and is used on knobs and switches inside cockpits old and new, for ease of use and clarity of operation - we’ve taken this concept and applied knurling to the case, affording a textural contrast from the polished metal below, enhancing the sentiment of being an instrument used in the world of speed record breaking.
And finally, we’ve switched from domed sapphire crystal to flat, in an effort to improve the legibility of the dial, regardless of lighting condition.