Written by Martin Green
Every journey starts with a first step, and sometimes you don’t even know when you take it. For me, it began on a stormy evening in Geneva. It was pouring down, and I was getting soaked as I came straight from the SIHH and didn’t bring an umbrella. The fair has made me tired, and my blood sugar was low from not eating for so long. I was ready to turn around and go back to my hotel, as I couldn’t find the restaurant where I would have had my last meeting of the day either. Something that kept me from doing just that, and when I finally found the restaurant, I first met Mark Schwarz.
At the time, I didn’t even have an idea of what Mark would be showing me. All I was told was that he was working on a new type of watch and that it was worth my time. As a watch journalist, I have heard that numerous times before but rarely leave such meetings as excited as I did that day. Mark was still in the process of making his first V1, showing me a prototype, and telling me about his ideas. The sincerity of it all struck me. There was a total lack of marketing words, and Mark oozes the modesty and restrained passion that I am quite familiar with, as I see this often at the manufactures that I visit with the people there.
Little did I know that this was my first step in a journey, as I witnessed the birth of a brand. What would become VAULT and its first model, the V1, was shown to me at Baselworld that same year, as Mark and I kept in touch. This gave me quite a unique experience, as it allowed me to follow its development closely. Talking throughout the year by email and app while meeting in person at the fairs became a staple. That is also how I learned of this journey, which also started with a first step.
In 2018 Mark stepped into the building of RC Tritec, where he first met Albert Zeller, the company’s owner. RC Tritec is a familiar name in the watchmaking world as they are manufacturing a luminous compound called Swiss Super-LumiNova which is used by all the Swiss watch brands. While Mark was just dropping off some parts in which he needed a luminous material, he ended up getting to learn the entire production process as Albert showed him around. This opened Mark’s eyes not only to the many possibilities in terms of Super-LumiNova but also to the ingenious way it is produced. Sparked by a mutual enthusiasm, Albert and Mark quickly were bouncing ideas off each other. It also soon led to the first cooperation as Albert played an essential role in the realization of the VAULT V1-X, with its orange paint splash that not only tells time but also lights up in the dark.
Ever since they first met Albert and his company, RC Tritec has contributed to the creation of every VAULT made. What was still missing was a watch created together in a full partnership. That is what is happening now. Two companies, two men, with different backgrounds and different expertise, joint together in a mutual passion, going on a journey together, yet also with all of us. This article could be your first step to join them, as we invite you to walk with us. Developing a new, custom-made VAULT is an adventure; it’s about failure and triumph, having fun and devilish details, and pushing the envelope. It is also an adventure that allows us to look over the shoulder of some of the best craftspeople Switzerland has. People who often operate behind closed doors, trusted by an industry, yet unknown to the people who enjoy these watches daily. We can not only see what they do and how they do it, but also what drives them, as we follow this new VAULT coming to life, step by step.