This watch is for all those of you out there who refuse to conform. Those who won't let anyone take their power away. Those who have no respect for what is not working. Those with ideas that could disrupt the status quo, and with the dangerously rebellious will to fight for something.
The Hornet is the largest and most dangerous wasp. In case of threat it can release an attack pheromone to mobilize the entire nest to defend the nest or to attack their prey.
The MD F/A-18 Hornet is a fighter jet introduced in the early 1980's.
We chose Hornet because we should all learn to say 'no' to what is not working. But it does not mean renunciation. It means we will mobilize and fight the status quo.
"Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." - JFK
The Hornet is as rugged as it gets. The solid stainless steel case can take a beating. Good luck trying to scratch the double-domed sapphire crystal. The Japanese quartz movement requires virtually no maintenance - because you have better things to do than wind your watch everyday. And the Hornet is certainly not afraid of water - go ahead and dive off a cliff if you dare.
It all started 10 years ago, when I graduated from college. I had a shiny Bachelor of Engineering diploma in my hands and I had a choice to make. Would I get into the rat race, spend most of my life facing a lifeless computer screen, and then retire when I'm old? Or would I fight for my freedom, build something of my own, and live life by my own rules?
One thing led to another and Helgray was born. Since its inception, Helgray has been making watches inspired by other eras, molded into modern and affordable offerings.
When everyone accepts obscene retail markups on generic and boring watches, I'm here to offer original designs, packing twice as much value at half the price.
The Hornet is inspired by fighter jets and pilot watches from the 1980's. Remember 'Top Gun'? That's the movie that ignited this project.
o Robust & Dependable - The heavy stainless steel case is just a hint at how tough this watch is. In case of emergency, put it in a sock and you got yourself an improvised flail.
o Super-Accurate - Quartz 'grab-n-go' factor. No winding everyday and expensive servicing every few years.
o Iconic / Functional - Inspired by iconic fighter jets and highly functional pilot watches.
o Value - Packed with insane value. Comparables sell for at least twice the price.
o Designed in Montreal, Canada.
The Hornet is the 3rd project by Helgray. In Spring 2014, I released the WWI-Series, raising close to $160,000 from more than 700 backers. I came back during Winter 2014-15 with the Silverstone, crushing my previous effort with close to $230,000 raised from more than 800 backers.
Helgray watches have been widely featured & reviewed by various print and online media outlets:
Here's just a small sample of what my customers have to say:
By becoming a backer of this project, you will help me pay for the first production run, and in exchange you will receive a rad watch with an impressive spec sheet at a deeply discounted price.
Becoming a backer also means you're taking part in a movement: that of disrupting the antiquated retail model where every middleman adds his own unnecessary markup to the final price.
With Helgray, you're purchasing directly from the source. No middlemen, no unnecessary markups. I don't have to increase my prices to pay for an expensive ad campaign because there is no ad campaign. All my marketing is guerrilla marketing. The only cost is my own sweat and tears and I can't really pass this cost on to you, can I?
Before going to the drawing board, I set some requirements. These are the 4 things that I decided I would absolutely not compromise on.
1. Robustness. The vintage timepieces that I draw inspiration from are most often masterpieces that have become delicate with time. At the time, they also didn't have access to all the precise machinery and tools we have now. Vintage watches are fun to look at and to wear in controlled environments. But they're a pain to maintain, and they require special attention.
Stainless Steel. 316L Grade. It's corrosion- and oxidation-resistant. This stuff is used as an automotive and aerospace structural alloy and construction material in large buildings.
Sapphire Crystal. Super hard and highly scratch-resistant. 9/10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Just for reference, diamonds are 10. Most watches have mineral glass (5/10 on the Mohs scale) that's easy to scratch.
The crystal is also double-domed. This means the inside of the crystal follows the same curve as outside. The results is incredible clarity - even from wild angles - controlled reflections, and no distortion.
Water Resistance. 10 ATM. Not afraid of water. Good enough for swimming and light diving.
2. Accuracy. A pilot watch should be accurate. No need to explain why.
Japanese Quartz. Nothing beats the accuracy of a good Japanese Quartz movement such as the Miyota 1L45 we're using.
Why not automatic? Because they're expensive to make, they require expensive maintenance, and they require constant winding to keep working. Your typical automatic workhorse is about 45 times less accurate than your typical quartz, and it will die if you don't wind it for 2 days. Your quartz watch will still work and be on time even if you pick it up a year later.
3. Functionality. What are the 2 most important functionality points for a pilot? Quick & easy time reading, and being able to track more than 1 time zone.
Clean & Uncluttered dial. White on black printing, and large applied stick markers for maximum readability.
Unique Hands. The hour hand is shaped like a large arrow, while the minute hand is straight. You'll never mix them up and you'll instantly know exactly what time it is. No 2nd glance. No 2nd guessing.
12-Hour Bezel. You can easily track 2 different time-zones with the inner rotating 12-hour bezel. This bezel is controlled by the red crown at 2H.
4. Value. Helgray watches have always been very affordable, and I want to keep it this way. They've also always been packed with value and the Hornet is no different.
Nothing but the best. While most affordable watches compromises on quality to lower the production price and increase their margins, I refuse to lower the quality of my watches to lower the retail price. 316L Stainless steel, check. Sapphire, check. Domed, nope, double-domed, check! Super-LumiNova, check. And the list goes on...
This means you get a watch with incredible durability and craftsmanship, at a fraction of the cost.
With the watch spec'ed out, it was time to get to the drawing board and to get prototypes made. Once the design renderings were done, I produced the technical drawings. I sent those to my manufacturing partner so that they could validate the engineering and feasibility of the Hornet.
My previous experience and my established relationship proved extremely valuable in communicating my requirements and expectations with my suppliers.
We agreed on the different processes that would be used to make the different parts and the specs and design were then locked down.
The next step was to make a set of prototypes that I would use to validate the design on the wrist, to inspect the quality of all components, and to test the durability.
Several months later, I received the prototypes. To put it simply, I was blown away! The Hornet looked great, worked great, and felt great on the wrist. This is in fact the most comfortable watch I have ever worn.
Case Diameter: 42 mm
Case Material: 316L stainless steel
Case Thickness: 13 mm (including crystal)
Lug Width: 22 mm
Lug-to-Lug: 47 mm
Crystal: Sapphire, double-domed
Bezel: Inner, rotating, bi-directional
Luminescence: Superluminova BGW9, application on hands, dial, and bezel
Movement: Miyota 1L45 with Small Second
Strap: 22 mm, leather
Buckle: 22 mm, signed
Water Resistance: 10 ATM (100 m)
There's just so much I can do on my own. As the saying goes: united we stand, divided we fall. So, let's unite our voices, let's join forces. And our collective effort will have an exponentially louder impact.
There is an infinite number of ways you can help, but an easy one that only takes a second is to share this project with your friends on Facebook. Click the image below if you want to make a huge difference!
Together we will be heard. Together we will reshape the retail model and make them follow our rules. Together we will bring back the pride of manufacturing our own products. Together we will all leave a thumbprint on the world.
When I started Helgray, I had a vision for the future: bringing the art of watchmaking back to North America and contributing to the local community. The Hornet, and the 2 previous Kickstarters I ran, are small steps toward that goal. I'm already doing as much as I can locally. This includes: graphic design, web design, web hosting, ecommerce service, merchant processing, banking, accounting, quality control, shipping, customer service, etc... All of this is done by hard-working people and companies in Montreal, in Canada, and in the USA.
The only missing piece to the puzzle is manufacturing. Eventually, I would like to build a workshop in Montreal and be proud to say that all Helgray watches are 100% Made in Canada.