Behind the Scenes: The Indefatigable Sphinx

If you’re a lover of psychedelia, chaos, culture and really cool watches… you’re going to want to read this. 

We’re delving into the creative depths of our newest and most complex release, The Indefatigable Sphinx!

 The Indefatigable Sphinx was created for us by Edward Carvalho-Monaghan, a talented artist and established collaborator with MJW, and we’re so pleased to have been able to work with him again to create a truly one-of-a-kind piece.

Long-time fans of the brand might recognise Edward’s distinct style from as early as our 2014 release Psychedelic Sunsets, a surreal landscape where time has to be discovered within a vortex beneath a setting sun. 

In the following year, we released Edwards World, an experimental design where we printed on every available surface: the date ring, the dial, the glass, and the rotor of the automatic movement. 

Edward has designed three other limited editions for us: Chaos Window, The Last Bloom, and Vanishing Point, each one contradicting our expectations on how a watch should look and move. 

But we love nothing if not a challenge! 

The Indefatigable Sphinx features a dizzyingly ornate scene that’s hard to place in any one style. Inspired by the underground psychedelic art of the 60s, Edward’s desert-scape pulls creatures and artefacts from different legends and myths into a vivid collision of shape and colour. 

In his own words: 

“My aims are always to expand the dimensions of an image to the farthest possible degree and to create contradictions and suggestions within that space.

“The watch depicts a surreal, dreamlike landscape. This space exists both outside time and at all possible moments simultaneously. Gods, goddesses, and sacred objects from different cultures, places and times are present within this timeless world.”

A complicated design needs an equally complicated mechanism, don’t you think? This watch is fitted with a jump-hour module designed by Johannes Jankhe for Christopher Ward and is powered by a Swiss-made mechanical movement (Sellita SW200, for our watch enthusiasts reading). 

The minutes are indicated by the black hand and the seconds are indicated by the red, aligning with carefully curated angles within the design to mark the time. 

With a jump-hour module, this watch doesn’t have an hour hand sweeping around every 12 hours. Instead, the hour can be viewed through the window on the right of the dial. 

Edward wanted every jump to surprise you, so with every hour the style of the digit switches between bold and subdued, clear and cryptic, overt and intricate.

Beside it, the left window jumps simultaneously to reveal a new head for the mysterious Sphinx, allowing for an absurd alternative to ordinary time-keeping; “What’s the time? Oh, it’s eyeball o’ clock.”

This intense scene ate up our shelves of ink; the dial has 26 different colours, and the hour disc has 17, each being printed 2-3 times, that’s about 85 rounds of printing per watch! Yes, 85!

The final layer of printing, the black outline, is incredibly fine. This made both the sampling and production process long and delicate, with very little margin for error. 

Nell, our talented Print Team Manager and lead on the Sphinx production, had this to say about the process: 

We went through many stages of sampling with this watch, revising many aspects of the artwork from Edward’s first version of this design to get it to the design it is now.

“One of the most challenging aspects of sampling was experimenting with the colour palette to get the right tone and look for the watch. With 26 different layers of printing on the dial alone, there was almost too much scope for changing colours. 

“The original sample for this design was very grey, dark and muted which just didn't do justice to the design or Edward's style. I decided on creating two different colour samples - one more warm toned and the other more cooler toned. This helped refine pallets and enabled us to pick and choose what aspects we liked and didn't like.”

Our hard work didn’t end after printing. The dial also features applied elements of a woman’s figure and an all-seeing eye, which need to be applied by hand.

These elements are incredibly fine and polished to a mirror finish, so took hours of painstaking work to make sure they were fitted correctly. Believe us, our patience was put to the test, and we’ll be seeing rivets and lounging ladies when we close our eyes for months, but we think our effort paid off. 

To top off the uniqueness of this watch, each strap was designed by Mr Jones to complement the specific colour palette. We sourced the leather from the last standing oak-bark tannery in Britain, which was then cut, sewn, and finished entirely by hand!  

What’s more, for a limited time, orders will be shipped with a print numbered and signed by Carvalho for this release only. 

Tired of the elementary? Order The Indefatigable Sphinx here

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