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    These Watches Made with 'Secret' Material Perfectly Combine the Idea of 'Time and Space'

    Rocket material selection in Kazakhstan.

    Rocket material selection in Kazakhstan.

    The founder of Werenbach, a watch making company in Zurich, Switzerland, Hohmann was lured by the space virus nearly a decade ago and it took him to Kazakhstan, scouting for parts of Russian Soyuz rockets.

    Mumbai: Swiss space fanatic-cum-watchmaker Patrick Hohmann's passionate dream was to combine 'space and time' that he achieved uniquely by creating exclusive watches made from material that has had a history of space travel, under the brand name 'Spaceborn'.

    The founder of Werenbach, a watch making company in Zurich, Switzerland, Hohmann was lured by the space virus nearly a decade ago and it took him to Kazakhstan, scouting for parts of Russian Soyuz rockets.

    Hohmann, 47, recounted his story wowing a select Indian audience via a webinar organized by Space Geeks Mumbai -- a startup launched by a trio of space geeks, Chintamani Pai, Ankush Bhaskar and Virendra Yadav -- all born Mumbaikars.

    With the help of local contacts to 'prey' on the burnt-out and discarded space scrap fallen on the remote steppes in Kazakhstan, Hohmann finally produced the first of the magnificent mechanical and quartz-powered time-pieces around eight years ago.

    "My mission was simple -- I wanted to bring Space on Earth Starting with the first watch in 2013 when we sold some 30 watches By 2017, we offloaded 5,000-plus, including maybe a couple of Indians!" Hohman told IANS from Switzerand on phone, with a tinge of pride over the success of his bizarre venture.

    The 'Spaceborn' series includes Mach-33, which is equivalent to 33 times the speed of sound or the Escape Velocity to exit the Earth's gravitational pull, Leonov, and the upcoming Soyuz O1 collection (April 2021).

    The collections, many in 3D designs, start from Rs 23,000 (Mach-33 - $309), Rs 85,000 (Leonov - $1,136) and Rs 4.07 lakhs (Soyuz - $5,482), besides a made-to-order edition starting at $1,757 (Rs 1.30 lakh) a piece, each with a 5-year warranty, and options of leather or metal straps, fully water-resistant and other top features.

    Merely picking up the left-over space materials like rockets, shells, etc, is not sufficient and involves a huge amount of documentation to ensure its safe transport to Switzerland, around 2 tonnes till date.

    With 90 per cent going "waste", it was a tough job, but now a special process has been developed to use it all, everything undergoes an elaborate treatment, before the space-scrap is ready to transform into wondrous and timeless time-pieces for humans.

    "All the materials used to make the Werenbach watches have been to the edge of space and back, between 30-80km above Earth and each time-piece comes with a certificate to the effect," Hohmann added.

    The space-travelled parts include the outer shell and power turbine of the legendary Soyuz rockets, along with watch-suitable alloys through a complex and specially-developed treatment process in which a university, a metallurgy specialist and six other partners are involved.

    Since he was virtually clocking a 'space-and-time' history, Hohmann named the alloys after their origins -- SBS Aluminium (Soyuz Booster Shell), and SRE Stainless Steel (Soyuz Rocket Engine).

    The initial struggle included investment challenges for what many termed as a 'crazy idea', but finally, in 2013, he hit upon the idea of crowfunding through the world-leader, Kickstarter, and the project -- well, got a kickstart.

    For India -- now an emerging Space Power -- Hohmann harbours a special dream, of collaborating with Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to create a special line of watches to brand its rockets, space missions and other projects.

    He harbours another vision for the future -- to retrieve debris from various space missions, big and small satellites, etc -- and convert them into watches or other elegant articles.

    "A Swiss entrepreneur has promised to start doing this from 2025 Let's see how it develops," Hohmann said.

    The Werenbach creator believes that once you are in Space, your entire perspective of Planet Earth change, from there all boundaries are erased and it makes us realize "how insignificant we really are on a Universal scale".

    Today, Werenbach's exclusive watches are coveted and sold all over the planet -- with just 7,000 pieces produced (due to the obvious shortage of raw material!) -- and the 'Spaceborn' brand has been unofficially tested by 3 astronauts in space missions, too.


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