By Steve Huyton
Over the past twenty years, Azimuth has really established itself as a big player on the horological landscape. In particular the Azimuth avant-garde SP-1 collections have gained enormous critical acclaim. For this reason the brand has become synonymous for exceptional design and Swiss quality normally associated with more expensive watchmakers.
In fact it’s fair to say their progressive approach to watchmaking has led the pathway for many micro brands.
Over the last few years, I’ve frequently communicated with Chris Long and got to learn what makes him tick. As a brand owner, you can essentially invent a title and Chris playfully describes himself as the Chief Product Visionary. This perpetuates his approach to watchmaking, which is mainly inspired by childhood fantasies.
Ultimately this was the catalyst for iconic creations like Mr. Roboto that pay homage to the Golden Robot of the 1950s. The Mark I variant was originally released in 2008 and measures 42.6mm x 49.5mm. For the price, there was nothing comparable at the time and it instantly became collectable with watch enthusiasts.
What originally impressed me about the original Mr. Roboto was the meticulous attention to detail. This watch has a sophisticated geometry and several bespoke sapphire crystal windows. The eyes display the hours (left), and GMT/second-time zone (right), with his red triangular nose featuring seconds and minutes in a retrograde format.
Certainly, in 2008 it was an ambitious project for a small independent brand. However, for Chris Long, this became a perfect springboard.
In 2016 Azimuth took on another partner, Giuseppe Picchi, who now runs the technical side of the operation from Neuchatel in Switzerland. This allowed the brand to experiment with more sophisticated designs and build on a solid reputation.
In 2017 Azimuth unveiled the Mr. Roboto R2, which is a larger more muscular version of the original. The primary objective was to give the watch an ‘Haute Horlogerie’ aesthetic similar to MB&F and Urwerk.
In my opinion, they were very successful and this is an exceptionally fine watch. However, interestingly Long revisited the original version to create several limited editions constructed from bronze.
Notable highlights include the Mr. Roboto Bronzo Artist Series, a collection of unique 1/1 pieces. These feature hand-engraved bezels inspired by steampunk, bitcoin and motorcycle themes.
For those that prefer a natural finish there was also a 100-piece limited edition Mr Roboto Bronzo that’s long sold out.
Recently Chris Long informed me of a very special 43mm x 50mm sapphire crystal model, which will be limited to twenty pieces worldwide (to commemorate Azimuth’s 20th anniversary). Certainly, it’s the most exclusive model they’ve created to date and visually the boldest.
Not surprisingly Azimuth will be entering this masterpiece for a prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève award.
Personally, I feel it’s a perfect recipient for this type of accolade and maybe a natural conclusion to Mr. Roboto’s story.
Steve Huyton is an industrial designer, illustrator and author who publishes Total Design Reviews