Friday, May 31, 2024

The Neprosolar

From Bamford London -
Courtesy of Bamford

Bamford London has jumped in the "Way-Back" machine and they've come back with a truly fun artifact, reimagined. Rather than try to re-tell an already interesting story (and because, hey, I've got to get to the office), I'll let the folks at Bamford share their story in their own words -

London, 30 May 2024 Bamford London is thrilled to announce the Neprosolar, a solarpowered, rechargeable digital watch based on a forgotten concept watch from the 1970s. The steely, modernist watch faithfully carries over the same free-thinking marriage of form and function found in the original concept, with an angular, asymmetrical case and bracelet and a solar-powered digital display, now backed by state-of-the-art electronic technology. The Bamford London Neprosolar has a fascinating backstory. In the 1970s, Nepro was one of the most innovative and experimental Swiss watch and clock companies and a leader in digital quartz devices. In 1970, it introduced what was then the world’s smallest electronic alarm clock of its type, with the mechanism and display built into a tiny pillbox.

Then at the Basel watch fair of 1976, Nepro announced the revolutionary Neprosolar, a solid-state quartz electronic wristwatch prototype powered by high-tech solar cells that transformed light into energy. The space-age design had a light-emitting diode, or LED display, that at the push of a button scrolled through hours and minutes, running seconds or date and month indications. A year later, Nepro produced the Quartz XJ-S, a digital watch that celebrated the iconic form of the newly released Jaguar XJ-S sports car. Nepro was cool. But the technology of the time was too limited to turn the solar-powered dream into a reality, and so the Neprosolar remained a concept, destined to disappear into the archives. Until now. Today, Bamford London is proud to realise that dream in partnership with Nepro, and to recapture the bold, retro-futuristic design and spirit of innovation found in the original Nepro concept watch.

The new watch echoes the form of that concept and adds a crisp, high-resolution OLED display, solar cells and a powerful rechargeable battery to a joyfully asymmetrical stainless-steel box-case and tapered metal bracelet, both finished in black PVD. The watch has two activators, one set into the left case flank to set the watch and a second into the right to control the blue OLED display. A single touch of the right activator illuminates an hour and minute display that can be set to 12 or 24-hour mode and that indicates seconds with a flashing colon; a second shows the day and month; and a third the power reserve, indicated by a series of four dots, which decrease as the power reserve is expended. The display is automatically programmed to turn off after four seconds, but it can be set to remain lit for 30 minutes by pressing the right activator for 10 seconds, or until the battery is fully discharged by pressing the left activator for 10 seconds. These special modes are turned off by pressing either of the two activators for a further 10 seconds.

The power reserve of the watch’s rechargeable battery will vary depending on usage. If the display is set to remain lit without solar recharge, the battery will discharge in around 10 hours. If the display is activated 10 times a day without solar recharge, the battery will discharge in around 500 days. If the display is never activated, without solar recharge, the battery will discharge in around three years. The battery has an approximate zero-to-full solar recharge rate of around 20 hours.

In keeping with Bamford London’s playful take on a watch’s presentation case, the Neprosolar is delivered in a black anodized aluminium cylinder that releases from the top like a top-secret canister, wittily retelling the nostalgic, even paranoid story of the early high-tech age. “Nepro is one of the unsung heroes of the watch industry and has a magical, wonderfully nostalgic story to tell,” says Bamford London founder, George Bamford. “When I first saw pictures of that 1970s concept watch a couple of year ago, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The design was just so out there, a retro-futuristic thing that was somehow familiar and yet completely alien at the same time. I fell down the rabbit hole and the more I found out about it, the more I fell in love with it. How could this watch never have been put into production? And what if we could do it using Nepro’s story, Bamford London’s vision and today’s technology? It’s been a journey of discovery, unpicking the hidden backstory of this beautiful, bonkers watch, and a huge joy to industrialise Nepro’s enlightened concept and give it life for the first time. Meeting the family who still own Nepro has been such a thrill and I’m so excited to be reviving the name and the Neprosolar design. This watch is insanely cool and I can’t wait to see what people think of it.” The Bamford London Neprosolar will be available for pre-order from 2pm BST on 30 May 2024 for just one week, priced £699. It will be available exclusively at Deliveries are scheduled for October 2024 and buyers will be sent regular delivery progress updates.

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