Tech spot: Wheels of Time, Arthur Oskar Stampfli


There are some watches that refuse to merge into the crowd and The Wheels of Time from Arthur Oskar Stampfli is definitely one of those. 

Forget your conventional round dial, or even an unconventional one, this extraordinary looking timepiece pushes the boundaries of different methods of telling the time, playing on the traditional way that watches convey the time. Its intriguing display is modelled on Tibetan prayer wheels.

Roland Stampfli is the man behind the brand, which only came to the UK for the first time earlier this year. He created it as a tribute to his father, Arthur Oskar Stampfli, who spent his life working in watchmaking. The company was formed in 2010 and by 2012, was building a sales network with distributors in Australia, the USA, China and Europe.


While not all timepieces from the brand are quite as dramatic as The Wheels of Time, the model must surely take some credit for the brand’s initial success. Its unusual looking watch display is said to capture the essence of the traditional Tibetan prayer wheels, which consist of a cylinder filled with mantras that freely rotates about an axis. In the case of the watch, the rotation displays the time.

The timepiece houses the RT01, which is Arthur Oskar Stampfli’s first In-house movement, designed and developed by Roland Stampfli. The arrangement consists of a prayer wheel-style case with a fully encased flat motor mechanical movement and angular gears. There are also independent moving hour and minute cylinders with single hands/markers for reading the time. The wheels are mounted on bearings, with sapphire balls, to minimise friction. The two rotating wheels tell the wearer the time.

The winding mechanism is standard, via the crown, which has two positions, one for winding and one for setting the time.
The first version of The Wheels of Time model had its crown at 3 o’clock but that was soon replaced by one positioned at 6 o’clock, in order to respect the typology of the prayer wheel.

The timepiece, with its 40-hour power reserve, has a sapphire crystal back that reveals the wheels but not the flat motor mechanical movement. The concept of the invisible movement, is also in keeping with the Tibetan prayer wheel inspiration, where the mantras are enclosed inside and only revealed on rotation. In the case of this watch, it is the “time’s engine”, aka the movement, which is enclosed and the the hours and minutes that are then diffused onto the outside.

The creators set their sights on creating a novelty and they’ve achieved it, with a watch that’s bound to turn heads. The Wheels of Time is limited edition, with just 28 pieces per model worldwide.

It’s a complex and unusual way of telling the time but then, that’s the point.

The Stats:
Weight: 81 grams
Length: 68 mm
Width: 26.8 mm
Movement: Flat motor mechanical movement.
Power reserve: 38 to 40 hours of power reserve.
Case back: Sapphire treatment.

This article first appeared in the September issue of WatchPro magazine. You can see the full digital version, here.


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