Enthusiasm for mechanical watches has exploded in recent years. While many have predicted the demise of the mechanical watch, passion for these types of watches has flourished. It hasn’t always been easy, and the entire industry has had to survive the quartz crisis and the smartwatch revolution. Much like any hobby with devout enthusiasts, increased awareness and interest in mechanical watches have allowed a new ecosystem to develop: the small, independent brand. These brands share a passion for horology and work to create something unique to leave their mark on the watch world.

Awake is one such example, and we have featured them multiple times on Fratello. Founded in 2019 by Lilian Thibault in France, the original spark came from the enthusiast world through a client meeting. Inspired by the attention to detail and mechanical complexity of mechanical watches, it sent Thibault down a rabbit hole many of us can relate to. He was drawn to independent brands on his collecting journey, seeking their creativity. This passion made its way into his brand. Awake incorporates sustainability initiatives into manufacturing while highlighting our connection with Earth, space, and time. The brand also uses recycled titanium and ocean netting to bring sustainability to the forefront of the overall design. Partnering with technology firms to bring genuinely innovative experiences to the wearers of their timepieces, Awake is bridging the gap between digital experience and mechanical timekeeping.

Awake Concept takes us on a journey through space and time

Awake made a splash (literally and figuratively) in 2019 when the Elysee Palace commissioned watches for the upcoming G7 Summit in Biarritz, France. Admittedly the brand thought it was a prank. Despite their initial disbelief, Awake produced a watch from recycled ocean netting. Each participant in the summit received one of the limited-edition pieces. The idea was to heighten their awareness of reducing the impact on the planet.

In 2022, Awake shifted its focus to the skies above. Many of us are amazed by humanity’s remarkable achievements in space exploration. The Mission to Earth NASA and Nightfall editions sought inspiration through the space suits and uniforms worn by NASA astronauts on the International Space Station. In addition, these watches were the first to feature blockchain technology linking the wearer to exclusive NASA content via the sapphire crystal.

From the depths of space to your wrist

Earlier this year, Awake turned the concept of space travel on its head. The Mission to Earth Chapter III, a double-release, features a meteorite dial. By taking their minimalist design and adding a portion of a meteorite that had traveled to Earth from a distance unknown, Awake brought space travel in a less-traditional sense to the wrist of the wearer. Once again, the sapphire crystal links the owner to the agency responsible for tracking asteroids on their interplanetary journeys.

Last month, in its third collaboration with NASA, Awake released a tribute to the agency most known for space exploration. The Meatball takes direct inspiration from the logo recognized the world over. Inspired by the people who made these journeys possible, the watch features distinct graphics and colors drawn from the first logo to set foot on the moon.

An insight into Awake’s modus Operandi

We spoke with the brand to understand the inspiration behind their now sold-out models and what we can expect in future Awake releases.

Fratello: Space exploration inspires your design language; that is very clear. Is there something about exploring the unknown that speaks to you and inspires you to create these watches?

Awake: Space has been a fascinating source of inspiration. Far from the recent fad that has followed the new space race, we have preferred to use it to illustrate our approach. You only have to listen to the astronauts since man first went beyond the stratosphere to understand that there is no more beautiful place to observe the world and its beauty and uniqueness about the planets that surround us and its fragility. Each of our designs is born of a desire to highlight our values and our vision.

Fratello: The watch is a very minimalist design. Can you speak to the process and how you arrived at it?

Awake: Time Travelers has a fairly minimalist approach, in keeping with its “tool watch” – yet chic – approach, like the other Mission To Earth models. Additionally, the emphasis is on simplicity and legibility: water resistance, lightness, and the strength of materials and components. But without calling its legitimacy into question, it offers a host of features that betray our pronounced taste for things that are not necessarily obvious at first glance. So, we reworked the bezel, hands, crown, rotor, and case back, among other things. We wanted to make them very different from all other models of the Mission To Earth collection.

Fratello: Astronomy and space exploration are intimately tied to timekeeping. From ancient mariners navigating by the stars, to modern astronauts timing spacewalks. Have you thought about adding future complications to the design?

Awake: No complications are planned for this model, and it doesn’t need them. The timescale measured by a watch is so short compared to that of our solar system by comparison. So, choosing a meteorite dial was an obvious choice to give Time Travelers a feeling of eternity.

Fratello: Titanium is commonly used in high-tech space and aeronautical applications, so its use is on the nose. How did you arrive at the various colors to give your more recent designs a unique look?

Awake: We’ve launched two versions of Time Travelers. The first, called Grey, retains the titanium’s raw color to reinforce the meteorite’s monochrome, mineral, and ferrous aspects. For the second version, called Purple, the supernatural colorimetry of nebulae formed the inspiration. The challenge was achieving a sober version, which was challenging when choosing this color option. So the result is perfect, and the Time Travelers Purple is highly versatile. As a result, you can wear it with either a suit or jeans. We used a PVD-type surface treatment to achieve this velvety hue.

Fratello: The use of blockchain technology in the most recent release was interesting. How did you establish this partnership with the space agencies, and what does it mean for future releases?

Awake: Time Travelers is part of the Mission To Earth collection, and we released the first model just over a year ago. It was the world’s first watch with a digital equivalent whose information is stored on the blockchain, giving access to experiences related to the messages we want to convey. We wanted to use this to create the Time Travelers experience: a dive into the world of asteroids and meteorites to discover their names and understand their trajectory in our galaxy. This experience comes on top of the collection’s first chapters, allowing us to observe the Earth from ISS’s cameras. These experiences are undeniably unique in the entire watchmaking industry and embody our desire to innovate.

Fratello: Finally, is there anything else you would like to share about potential upcoming projects? We watch collectors love feeling like we have the inside scoop.

Awake: Mission to Earth – Meatball is sold out online, and we will concentrate our forces on the 2023 releases, which Fratello readers will be hearing about very soon. Stay tuned!

There we have it; an insight into the world of space-inspired watches from the up-and-coming Parisian brand. While they will not resonate with everyone, those who get the message get the product too. So where do you stand, and what do you think? Be sure to let us know in the comments! You can find out more about Awake at the brand’s official website here.