HANDS-ON: The Horage Lensman 1 is inspired by mechanical cameras, but it’s no loose Canon…Fergus Nash
As prestigious as the tourbillon is, the watches that include them can often suffer from an air of pretension, as if the complication is all they need to represent the pinnacle of horology. For those watch enthusiasts who prefer more substance, the Horage Lensman 1 merges horological significance with a genuine passion for film photography in a stunning way. Infused with references to mechanical cameras, the Horage Lensman 1 is clearly crafted with a lot of love, and won’t cost you a mortgage either.
Depending on the angle at which you first view the Horage Lensman 1, you might think that it either has a kind of fluted or coin-edge bezel like that of a dive watch. It’s actually designed to look like the manual focus of a camera lens, and even has a slight gap between the bezel and the lug to ensure the design is uninterrupted. You can also see numbers engraved into the sides of the case in the style of an f/0.95 aperture ring — seen on some of the fastest lenses in the world. The crown, which is also nicely machined with a thick and grippy pattern, is inset with an onyx stone that’s reminiscent of a shutter button.
If you picked up that the polished surfaces of the Horage Lensman 1 are slightly darker than normal, that’s because the case is made entirely from grade 5 titanium. This alloy, as well as polishing up to a delightful lustre, is also capable of being brushed incredibly finely as you can see on the side of the lugs and case. Titanium’s lightweight properties are welcomed too, with a 41mm diameter, 10.3mm thickness and 49mm lug-to-lug completing the well-sized package that balances comfort with wrist presence. One of the most surprising details is the water resistance of 100m, meaning that with a simple strap change your tourbillon would be ready to swim.
Despite being relatively minimalistic, there’s a lot to unpack on the dial of the Horage Lensman 1. Black and silver has been a classic colour combination for film cameras since the very inception of the technology, and that has been represented here with additional touches to honour the trend of blacking-out certain components. Between a fanning outer layer, the trapezoidal hour markers are legible thanks to their silver outlines, but filled with black Super-LumiNova that glows green after dark. The fencepost hands are slightly skeletonised and tiered, giving them a clinical and modern appearance.
The most obvious feature on the dial has to be that sleek tourbillon cage at 6 o’clock, with a giant magnifying lens above it. The magnifier is coated with anti-reflective coating, as is the rest of the crystal, and it helps you pore over the skillful finishing of this engineering feat. It’s also reminiscent of the domed lens of a camera, which wouldn’t necessarily come across from a regular domed crystal. The blued screw that indicates seconds and blue silicon components really pop against the dark grey of the dial, drawing the eye in.
Leather accessories have been paired with film cameras for longer than wristwatches have existed, but there was only one choice for the style of leather to use with the Horage Lensman 1. Almost every 35mm rangefinder camera in existence has been covered with a black grained calfskin body grip, and this translates well into a watch strap. The black outer is paired with a lighter and softer brown inside, with your choice of red or black stitching along the sides. The clasp is Horage’s deployant buckle, which is skillfully machined with comfort and ease of adjustment in mind.
Powering the Horage Lensman 1 is something quite rare — an in-house tourbillon movement created by an independent brand. The Horage K-TOU calibre isn’t content just being rare however, and also comes in with one of the lightest tourbillon cages in the world at 0.29 grams. As you can see from the magnified display, it uses a silicon escapement made in Germany including the anchor, escape wheel and hairspring, which are the only components made outside of the Horage manufacture in Switzerland. This provides anti-magnetic properties, as well as ensuring chronometer accuracy between -4/+6 seconds per day.
With a relatively slow beat rate of 3.5Hz, the single mainspring barrel provides a huge five-day power reserve. Visible through the sapphire display caseback, the K-TOU is coated with black PVD and alternating brushed and blasted finishes. The Horage logo and a stylised H pattern can also be seen. Around the caseback’s perimeter is a quote paraphrased from the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson — “One’s head, one’s heart and one eye on the same axis”.
The Horage Lensman 1 pricing and availability:
The Horage Lensman 1 is now available from their website here, with pieces made to order and shipping from April/May 2023. Price: CHF 8,890
|Case Dimensions||41mm (D) x 10.3mm (H) x 49mm (L2L), 20mm lug width|
|Case Material||Grade 5 titanium|
|Water Resistance||100 metres|
|Dial||Black with oversized cyclops at 6 o’clock|
|Strap||Black leather with red or black stitching|
|Movement||In-house Horage K-TOU calibre|
|Power Reserve||5 days|
|Functions||Tourbillon, hours, minutes|
|Availability||Made to order, shipping from April/May 2023|