Accutron And Hudson Whiskey Share A Passion For Re-Invention
Today on Watchonista, craftsmanship, innovation, and passion for re-envisioning classic, time-honored products come together, as evidenced by a superb, very limited-edition American rye whiskey influenced by a new line of forward-thinking watches.
Without a doubt, the psychographic intersections between the fandoms of fine watchmaking and fine spirits are abundant. Elements of precision, a science-driven process, attention to detail, maintaining a balance between the industrial and the hands-on, and delivery of a nuanced end-product to enjoy are shared by both disciplines. But, in the recent collaboration between Accutron Watches and the new-jack distillers of Hudson Whiskey, the connection to those shared values is even more profound.
Both embody a bold drive to re-invent in their chosen worlds. Plus, they share a New York origin story. That is why this pairing makes for an apt collaboration in terms of not only co-promotion but spirit, too.
A New Generation of Accuracy
The first Accutron watches, which used the innovative icon of a tuning fork to drive precision, hit the market in 1960. In every regard, it was the world’s first successful electronic watch. It was also the world’s most accurate. The open-worked Spaceview timepiece of that era was particularly popular.
New York-based watchmaker, Bulova, brought Accutron to the public. No doubt many reading this will recall the episode of Mad Men about it. Specifically, when beaten-down ad-man, Freddy Rumson, takes a star-turn with a compelling, face-forward single-shot pitch for the watches, ending with the still-used tagline: “Accutron – it’s not a timepiece, it’s a conversation piece.”
Fast-forward to today, and Accutron, re-born on its 60th anniversary as a standalone brand under the auspices of Japan’s Citizen Group, retakes its position on the vanguard of time-telling technology with a new, 10-years-in-the-making electrostatic watch movement. This new movement combines aspects of traditional watchmaking mechanics with edgy electronic micro-engineering. There is no replaceable battery to wear out; it is powered, as with an automatic mechanical movement, via an oscillating rotor driven by wrist movement.
Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery founder, Ralph Erenzo, was a skilled rock climber who decided it might be safer to distill fine whiskey and other spirits in upstate New York and leave the rocks for the glass. Along with partner, Brian Lee, he started the distillery in 2003 at the foot of the Hudson Valley’s Shawangunk Mountains region. Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery was, in fact, the very first licensed distillery in New York State after prohibition, taking advantage of a then-new farm distillery operating option. It only took about 80 years for artisan whiskey-making to find its way home.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, New York and the Hudson Valley region, in particular, was the breadbasket of the country. Not so much wheat, but rye, corn, barley, and other bread grains flourished before our country’s borders expanded to the Great Plains. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of local grist mills, and in most cases, wherever there was grain being ground, there was whiskey being distilled as well.
Tuthilltown’s Hudson whiskey products are created on the site of a legacy mill, and the craftsmen there are dedicated to using a preponderance of local grain in their work. But, they are also at the forefront of distilling technology, as they have vastly increased their production volume and retail footprint under the new ownership of Scottish global distiller, William Grant & Sons.
A Precise Relationship Between Motion and Energy
Accutron’s uncanny electrostatic movement powers all three of the new limited-edition watches featured here as well as the entire new Spaceview 2020 line. Without getting into a lengthy treatise, the oscillating rotor rotates the two off-set electrostatic turbines straddling the 6 o’clock position to create an electrostatic charge. And it is that turbine action that generates the true electrical power of the timepieces, which is stored in a capacitor. Additionally, the fins of the electrostatic motor at 10 o’clock spin by the attraction and repulsion of alternating positive and negative charges.
That capacitor, in turn, powers the larger electrostatic motor at 10 o’clock, which is dedicated to driving the smooth-sweeping, highly accurate seconds hands. A sweeping seconds hand is a big power drain on a timepiece. But this new movement conserves energy by stopping the seconds hand at 12 o’clock after 5 minutes of inactivity, while the movement still ticks along displaying the accurate time).
Power is also doled out to a more traditional stepper motor to move the minutes and hours hands. A quartz element, which is two-pronged (perhaps in an ode to Accutron’s iconic tuning fork logo), provides accuracy via regulating components that translate constant crystal vibration into the ultimate exercise in accuracy.
So, you essentially have an electrically powered watch that is in constant mechanical motion in which that motion plays a defining role in the design and presentation of the new Spaceview 2020 watches. Plus, the larger electrostatic motor and twin electrostatic rotors in the new Spaceview 2020 form a kind of artful off-axis triad, along the lines of traditional circular sub-dials, tied together by bold bridgework that unites those power sources and the Accutron tuning fork logo. A visible copper coil at 1 o’clock hints at the electrical nature of the watches.
The two 43.5mm Spaceview 2020 models presented here – the green-strapped reference 2ES6A003 and orange-strapped reference 2ES6A004 – feature a bezeled stainless steel case with traditional lugs that accommodate ethically sourced alligator straps. The electrostatic rotors and motors are united with signature Accutron green bridgework. These models present a more classically appealing canvas for all the eye-catching hybrid time-keeping taking place on your wrist.
The 45.1mm Accutron DNA model (reference 2ES8A001) you’ll spot here ups the space-age gravitas with a bezel-less polished silver and gray tone stainless steel case and a smoothly integrated technical black rubber strap. Add in its shimmering “space helmet” domed sapphire crystal and black bridging across the dial, and the DNA presents a wonderful futuristic homage to the era of Accutron’s birth. Yet, all the while, it still delivers a very relevant, modern, and technical pathway into the innovative time-keeping technology you are wearing.
Hudson Whiskey’s line of bourbon, rye, multi-grain, and now, undoubtedly inspired by its new Scottish ownership, all-barley style whiskies, created a craft sensation among appreciators of fine spirits, ever since its stout 750ml bottles started appearing in bars and on retail shelves. The special Accutron 60th anniversary rye whiskey created for this collaboration is not only aged at least three years in new American oak barrels (qualifying it as a “straight” rye whiskey), but it is distinctly rye-forward in flavor. Its mash bill formula of 95-percent local rye grain with a kiss of 5-percent malted barley lends a bit of mellowing and sophistication to rye’s typically bold, spicy/peppery flavor profile.
It is superb sipping rye but not so fussy that it couldn’t be put to good use in classic cocktails like an old-fashioned or Manhattan. Even a splash of ginger beer and some rocks will only enhance the complex notes on your tongue, making this bottle, as well as the Accutron timepieces, “a conversation piece” indeed.
Pricing & Availability
The featured limited edition green and orange-strapped Accutron Spaceview 2020 models list for $3,650 each. These two join the black grain leather-strapped steel Spaceview 2020 and similarly-strapped 18K gold Spaceview 2020 timepieces at Accutron retailers in November. The non-limited rubber-strapped Accutron DNA model pictured here retails for $3,300. You can learn more about the new Spaceview 2020 timepieces on the Accutron website.
Hudson Whiskey’s Accutron 60th Anniversary Rye will be used by Accutron for VIP gifting and will be served at select Accutron events. However, Tuthilltown Spirits Distillery invites visitors with a welcome center, tours, and special Hudson Whiskey distillery experiences year-round. You can learn more at the distillery’s website.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)