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Tsovet

The masculine qualities of vintage Military timepieces.

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For watch buyers price often dictates a difficult reality. On the low end, a flooded market hinges primarily on novelty. Bold colors, graphics, and playful takes on the essence of the timepiece often work to minimize the desired effect of a watch - a subtle (though often not too subtle) nod to craftsmanship, utility, and function. The gap between the fashion timepiece and the dizzying world of the luxury wrist-piece has few standouts. One that has recently caught our attention is Tsovet.

 

Founded in July of 2008, Tsovet came to life through the passion of David Bonaventure. His desire to create compelling timepieces in the niche described above was inspired by a personal search for a timepiece he could connect with. Untrained as a watchmaker, he began sketching and drew from an interest in metal fabrication and mechanical gauges. Having never fallen for the lore of the watch, he’d never collected. The watch, for Bonaventure, was simply about utility, and function became a primary concern as Tsovet began to take shape.

 

Bonaventure’s interest in mechanical gauges stems from his enjoyment of time spent in his local Huntington Beach, CA metal fabrication factory. There he discovered the aesthetic qualities of aerospace bolts and gauges, both of which he collects. This personal collection plays into the look of the Tsovet watch, and he says “the knurling on our crowns comes directly from the items sourced.” Studying objects of historic industrial design and finding joy in Russian vintage timepieces, Bonaventure started trying to fuse these elements together.

 

In Russian watches, a straightforward masculinity was found, as well as genesis for the name. The dials of these watches connect to Russian propaganda material, making them unique evocations of communist material culture. The Soviet era watch and clock industry was second only to the Swiss in terms of production. For example, the First Moscow Watch Factory produced over 3,500,000 mechanical watches for both domestic and export markets in 1972.

 

The wealth of history goes beyond the shear number of watches made. Soviet watches were the first in space, and played a vital role in keeping the wheels turning in Russian transport.

This part of the story might be lost in Tsovet’s offerings, but the visual qualities and straightforward nature remains. As Bonaventure states, “a lot of inspiration came form a few vintage Aviator brands like Raketa, Poljot, and also the original 58mm Russian dive watches from the mid 70’s.” Poljot, in fact, became the First Moscow Watch Factory in 1917, when after the Bolshevik Revolution the entire industry became part of the “Trust of Precision Mechanics.” The factory was integral to the history of Russian and Soviet Aviation, providing both needed watches and a boost to the national economy.

 

The pieces that push Bonaventure are watches with purpose. A little digging reveals the firm connection with the mechanical and aerospace design that’s incorporated into his creations. Almost unwittingly, Bonaventure forms something more historically driven than original conception might have suggested. The message of the brand draws on Russian time history: the elements of sound, air, and water are all incorporated in the forms and function of the watches that provide him with a launching pad. They were produced for the Navy, the air force, and eventually the Space race.

 

As it stands today, Tsovet’s offerings hinge on clean and easily readable faces. Watches like the SVT-CV74, with its contoured face angles, maintains a traditional look and appeal. still combined with the raw mechanical elements that drive Bonaventure’s design aesthetic. A more directly influenced model is the new SVT-FW44, brought to life through a constructed story revolving around a WWI infantryman’s phone. Each blend the two interrelated Tsovet stories together. There’s the directness of the mechanical gauge with the firm masculine qualities of vintage Military timepieces.

 

The subtle twists of history and the markedly contemporary feel of the watches help carve out a unique space for Tsovet within the watch market. The story, finding within it elements that keep connecting the two inspiration points, makes the core of the collection all the more intriguing. Forcing a look into the genesis of Soviet timepieces, Tsovet rests at the intersection of needs and requirements generated by modern concerns.

 

Speaking about the Tsovet process, Bonaventure notes, “We tried to picture ourselves as students of the industrial and aerospace design engineers of yesteryear, and we take great joy in infusing these elements and simplicity into our timepieces.” That accomplished, one finds that with a little imagination Tsovet also invigorates a desire to be a student of a slightly deeper history - one full of political, social, and technological subplots. In that, Tsovet as a new brand delivers something rare.


VIA selectism.com

 

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