Arcturus Lion City 2 Vanda Tourbillon

TBC has been given access to Arcturus Watches’ final prototypes of their Lion City 2 Vanda Tourbillon.  Our thoughts about the upcoming KickStarter project are based on the time we spent with these three prototypes.  Folks, you are in for a treat!

Photography by Ronald Chew

by The Balance Coq

  • February 19, 2024
LC2 Group Shot 1

The Long & Winding Road To Act 2

For those in the back, Arcturus Watches is a Singapore-based watch brand with a penchant for dress watches.  Arcturus burst onto the scene in 2018, gathering quick praise and even quicker KickStarter support (fully funded under 60 minutes, mind) for their Lion City 1 (“LC-1” to you and me).

Since then, the Arcturus team has been hard at work, dreaming up the sequel.  Founder Alexander Ian Loh’s mind has been percolating with the rough ideas and sketches for the Lion City 2 even before deliveries started for the LC-1.

And then the pandemic happened, followed swiftly by the wholesale closure of China’s borders to the outside world. Those developments no doubt threw some spanners in the works.  Prototyping and partnerships became a lot more tedious, with a pronounced lag between responses.  Still, it is better to be late than to give up on what was looking to be a stupendous follow-up act.

LC2 Aventurine 6
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TBC sat the very busy Alexander down for a couple of questions when he handed over the trio of final prototypes to us for a few days.  The founder went from Alexander the jovial multi-hypenated entrepreneur, to Mr Loh the serious and articulate watch brand owner in the blink of an eye, such was weight of expectations on his shoulders.

TBC: What was the thought process and design brief for Vanda?

AIL: The ethos of the Lion City collection, as the name suggests, has always been to pay homage to our home, Singapore. The Vanda Miss Joaquim, Singapore’s national flower, was our muse in designing the LC-2 Vanda Tourbillon. Like its namesake with several layers of petals leading in towards its core, its heart, we chose a tourbillon movement to symbolise the heart of the watch. The design aims to capture the essence of the national flower, showcasing its vibrant colours, graceful form, and cultural significance. The watch face incorporates a delicate floral motif inspired by the intricate details of the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid. Petal-like patterns and curves are carefully integrated into the watch dial, creating an elegant and timeless aesthetic. By blending the natural beauty of the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid with the precision of a well-crafted timepiece.

TBC: Usually Act 2 is the hardest one, especially when your first outing was universally lauded. Does that explain the big wait?

AIL: Indeed. Arcturus has been around for 6 years now, and 4 of those years were spent designing and prototyping the LC-2. One of the guiding principles of the team is that of “no compromise” and the fact that we are on version 3 of our prototypes, is a testament to that. We wanted the LC-2 to reflect maturity of design from the LC-1. We kept refining the design, the finishings, the construction quality. We just kept at it over the last 4 years. Whenever we saw a way to improve on the quality of the watch, we would think to ourselves “Oh boy, this is going to take another couple of months”, but we did it anyway, because “no compromise”. Arcturus draws inspiration from the idea that conviction is the driving force behind excellence, and this philosophy is embedded in every aspect of our timepieces.

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Design

The LC-2 case bears little resemblance to its cushion case predecessor.  The case is not round, but to call it a cushion case would also be inaccurate.  The fully polished case is off-round with a brushed flat inner bezel framing a truly customised dial enclosure.

And the dial, of course, is where all the magic happens.  Arcturus has said that “a significant amount of R&D has gone into the dial construction”, and upon closer inspection under direct lighting, TBC is inclined to believe it was not mere PR.  There are so many elements that work to gather a visual feast for anyone looking at it.  The dial proper has three planes (so…a step dial then? – Ron). The chapter ring is a sliver of material decorated with minute tracks, protruding at the 3, 9 and 12 o’clock positions, doubling as markers. The Roman hour markers are arranged on the next plane, which can be best described as an opaline donut cladding. The guilloche version has a matt black donut cladding with cut-outs for the hour markers. Forming the floor of the dial are either of three materials – opaline guilloche, malachite, or our favourite of the three, aventurine. It is like staring into the night sky when you look at that variant.

The Voutilainen-esque pomme hour hand of the LC-2 has a customised opening to align exactly with the bevelled Orchid Coin at the 12 o’clock mark.

The Peacock tourbillon mechanism is on full display at the bottom of the dial. Its matt-finished housing is flanked on either side by single exposed screws. To allow the tourbillon display to flourish without resorting to cutting off the rest of the dial, Arcturus (very bravely) went with a slightly elongated bottom, necessitating a custom sapphire glass display.

LC2 Close up 2

When you flip the LC-2 around, you will be greeted by an intricately embossed Vanda Miss Joaquim. The caseback is mostly solid to accommodate the adornment, but Arcturus has also included cut-outs so that the tourbillon mechanism can also be viewed from the back. What that means is that the brand has managed to give the Peacock tourbillon mechanism the traditional “floating” look by partially opening up the caseback.

Arcturus opted for a slightly-outsized onion crown, which made winding the LC-2 an easy task. Normally seen on flieger watches, the crown complements the rest of the watch. It is also probably the only part on the LC-2 that is not an out-and-out customised component.

LC2 Caseback Vanda

Final Thoughts

The LC-2 has plenty of character, which is not necessarily something you can say about most dress watches; they do tend to be safe and conservative.  Therefore, Arcturus’ second act is all the more convincing and coherent.  It is the norm for brands – especially in their nascent years – to head down safe and familiar paths.  Form following precedent, as it goes.  In the LC-2, we see form following function.  Unwavering in their vision, this tourbillon marks a watershed moment for the young brand.  TBC can hardly wait to see what else Arcturus has up their sleeve.

Arcturus Watches will be launching their Kickstarter campaign on 29 February 2024 at 10PM (SGT).  Follow them on their Instagram or join their Whatsapp community for the latest updates!

Pricing Information For The Arcturus Lion City 2 Vanda Tourbillon

Early Bird Prices

Guilloche – USD968/SGD1288

Malachite – USD1194/SGD1588

Aventurine – USD1420/SGD1888

Kickstarter Special

Guilloche – USD1043/SGD1388

Malachite – USD1268/SGD1688

Aventurine – USD1494/SGD1988

Diameter44.0mm
Height11.8mm
Lug-to-lug50.0mm
Lug Width22.0mm
Water Resistance50 metres
Material316L stainless steel
MovementPeacock SL-5200 Flying Tourbillon
CasebackSolid caseback with hybrid eyelet display
GlassCustom cut flat sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
DialAventurine, Malachite, White Guilloche
FinishingHigh polished, Circular brushed, Straight brushed, Sunburst brushed

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