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The SEVENFRIDAY FREE-D 2 revolutionizes established traditions in the watch industry. The timepiece comes from the 3D printer. Here, nothing seems to be as it was known before. What is behind the design, which seems to come from another world?
The watch rethought
For many watch brands, time has literally stood still. Even more, it is running backwards. Numerous manufacturers have managed to transfer popular watch designs from the 20th century into the present. Or they are returning to their roots and reviving legendary models that were last manufactured forty or fifty years ago. In doing so, they use craft techniques that have not changed much over the decades. In the mass market, technical innovations help to transport the large quantities. But especially when we want to wear a special watch and are willing to spend more, we are particularly happy if the watchmaker has still built it using traditional craftsmanship techniques. Preferably in a quaint chamber and in dim light, just like in our imagination. That’s still quality, isn’t it?
But what would a watch look like if this untouched concept, which is over a hundred years old, were to be thrown overboard? With no historical designs, no “it’s always been done this way” mentality, and instead with a force of innovation that allows time to move forward again in the watch industry. The smartwatch fulfills exactly these criteria, one could argue. Yes, but strictly speaking it is not a watch, but a smartphone on the wrist.
Seven days a week on Friday
However, there are timepieces that are still mechanical wristwatches, but whose inventors have fundamentally rethought their manufacturing. You can find them, for example, at SEVENFRIDAY, a Swiss brand. Founded in 2012, its headquarters are located in Zurich. Previously known primarily for industry-inspired designs, SEVENFRIDAY also makes clothing and eyewear. When it was launched, the so-called P-series attracted a lot of attention, with an unusual look that was different from pretty much everything people had been used to until then.
The birthday present that SEVENFRIDAY has now made for itself on its 10th anniversary, however, has raised the brand to a whole new level. In short: they have reinvented themselves. SEVENFRIDAY’s answer to the question of how to revolutionize the manufacture of a watch is as simple as it is ingenious: the 3D printer.
The now established machines are not printers in the classic sense, but versatile all-rounders that can be used to produce just about anything from components to single-family homes. Why not watches, too?
From another star
The FREE-D collection is not brand-new, but as of November 2022 already eight months old. That blue debut FREE-D 1 is now logically followed by FREE-D 2 in red and FREE-D 3 in black. The former is reviewed in this watch review. To start with, both models are limited to a very small number of only 50 pieces each and cost 4,040.00 euros. Judging by their current popularity, we can probably expect strong demand and an exorbitantly high resale price in the future.
The 3D experience begins even before you’ve seen the watch. SEVENFRIDAY has made a visible effort to make it clear, even from the watch box, that we are dealing with a wristwatch that is anything but ordinary. The cube-shaped cage is difficult to describe. It is gray, has an organic honeycomb structure and looks like it could do breathtaking things at any moment, for example, rebuild itself, as you know from Transformers movies. If you open the twist cap with logo, the cube can be unfolded. The FREE-D 2 now presents itself on a bridge-like construction including a cushion – great! Except for the cushion, the entire construction comes ready-made from the 3D printer. PA11 nylon is used as the material. This is castor oil-based polyamide, whose sustainability is emphasized by SEVENFRIDAY.
The cushion can be removed via a screw to access the watch.
The SEVENFRIDAY FREE-D 2 on the wrist
On the wrist, the FREE-D 2 is a stunner. The case, aptly named ‘space capsule’ by the manufacturer, is not exactly small in itself. It’s enclosed by distinctive protective gear that comes out of the 3D printer and forms a sort of outer skeleton around the case. As a result, the FREE-D 2 grows to a whopping 52.8 millimeters in width and 55.4 millimeters in height. Above the wrist, the timepiece towers a proud 23.7 millimeters. The FREE-D 2 doesn’t miss its brute effect. So before you buy it, you should think twice about whether you want to and can wear such a large model.
Visually, the SEVENFRIDAY FREE-D 2 is a wristwatch that fascinates and remains in the memory. The model is an eye-catcher, especially in red. As a wearer, you may be prepared to ask yourself what kind of peculiar accessory you are actually wearing. The FREE-D 2 cannot be categorized, which makes it even more unconventional.
It is similarly difficult to assign it to a specific style. The timepiece appears very modern, but still does without digital technology, which I would place with a futuristic watch. In a certain way, the model seems traditional again, if you consider the design of the leather strap.
The space capsule in detail
What still counts as the case and what already belongs to the dial and bracelet? This is indeed a difficult question. With the SEVENFRIDAY FREE-D 2, these clear boundaries become blurred, as the design elements of the watch form a single unit. The frame of the “space capsule” consists of three square, rounded components made of class 5 titanium. The lightweight high-tech material is extremely robust and gives the watch the necessary stability. At the same time, the FREE-D 2 saves a considerable amount of weight. Incidentally, the titanium elements were not printed, but manufactured conventionally. Their workmanship is excellent.
During the test days, I hardly felt the FREE-D 2 at all on my wrist. This is partly due to the comfortable leather strap, but more on that later. On the other hand, this is made possible by the lightweight construction. Despite its proud size, the watch weighs only 70 grams. Both titanium and PA11 make sure of that. Even heavy materials like scratch-resistant and durable sapphire crystal (on both sides of the case, mind you) could still be built in.
Inside this special watch works a Sellita SW300-1. At a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour, the automatic movement comes to a power reserve of 42 hours.
Dial and bracelet of the SEVENFRIDAY FREE-D 2
It took me a little while to adjust to the new way of reading the time. In the FREE-D 2, a seconds, minutes and hours ring rotate. They are mostly hidden under the dial. So, the time is read through the skeletonized recesses of the dial. This is in two parts, is made of polyamides like the protective armor, and comes straight from the printer. Somehow, it reminds me distantly of insect armor. Full and half hours are marked on the hour ring with Arabic numerals. In the same way, SEVENFRIDAY has structured the minute track. The only drawback: On the seconds ring, there’s only the 60-minute mark. So, you can hardly tell if the minute is just 30 or 45 seconds old. In my opinion, this makes the seconds display superfluous. Nevertheless, I didn’t use it in everyday life.
The distinctive polyamide structure extends to the wristband. This is quite thin and very soft on the skin. In terms of color, it perfectly matches the red PA11 structure that protects the case. By the way: even the buckle comes from the 3D printer!
My conclusion about the SEVENFRIDAY FREE-D 2
The FREE-D 2 is more than just a feasibility study that accidentally went into production, as this watch test shows. More than that, the timepiece from the printer proves that it can keep up with the traditional and established watches on the market. An exciting counterpart for all those who have been bored with the previous offerings in the premium segment. SEVENFRIDAY’s printed watch is not the first of its kind, but it implements the concept in a very mature way and has hardly any competition. There is simply nothing comparable.
Currently, the model costs 4,040.00 euros. That’s not a cheap price. The reason for this is likely to be several factors. The FREE-D 2 is not a volume model, if only because of its 50-piece limit. In addition, 3D printing is probably (still) an expensive process. I’m curious to see if SEVENFRIDAY can start a trend and other brands will follow. Who knows, maybe the watch from the 3D printer will soon no longer be a speciality, but completely taken for granted. But only the future will tell. I am curious.
You can find all other links to the watch below.