After managing products from development to launching and logistics for 20+ years at well-known watchmaking companies, Hakim El Kadiri has kickstarted his own, the community financed brand Elka watch. The campaign with the first 2 models is on during June 2022.
The pandemic has changed many lives, in many ways. Some impacts are obvious, others are more indirect and will become visible over time. For the seasoned watch product expert Hakim El Kadiri the pandemic coincided with a notice of dismissal from his workplace, a surgery and a heart attack. These events made the 56 year-old rethink his purpose in life and pushed him to embark on a – probably always cherished but so far irrational – independent entrepreneur route. Hakim El Kadiri designed a product, defined the business plan, secured his suppliers and launched a Kickstarter campaign for the first 2 models.
When it comes to defining the product strategy, he has decent experience to draw from. Behind his back he has 10 years at Rado as the Head of Product Management, Vice-President and Member of the Board, 9 years in a similar role at the Hamilton Watch Company and the interesting assignment of overseeing the Swatch Irony special projects (Place Vendôme, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Torino 2006, James Bond 007 collection) for 4 years. He outlined and implemented the strategy for collections such as Rado’s HyperChrome, True, Captain Cook and Coupole Classic, as well as Hamilton’s American Classics (JazzMaster and RailRoad).
His newborn’s name ‘Elka’ is derived from his own name El Kadiri. ‘When I wanted to protect the name, I realised that a brand called Elka Watch had already existed but had disappeared around the ‘60s & ‘70s. This defunct Elka Watch was named after Eduard Louis Kiek from Amsterdam. I looked through their archives and realised that the brand had strong designs and had worked closely with other big names in the watch industry such as Ulysse Nardin, Heuer, Rolex, Minerva, to name a few. So, without reviving the brand, I wanted to pay a tribute to this old Dutch brand with my first 2 series’ he added. Elka Watch was a retailer and a number of timepieces from different brands surfaced with a double signature. Two of which served as inspiration for the two initial tribute models.
X & D series
Himself a product of the ‘60s, Mr El Kadiri reaches back to this period, where modern design developed with great strides on the barge of the space race and the air was filled with activism, protests and civil disobedience. ‘The same values demonstrated at that time are still strong today. Boldness and elegance are timeless, whether they date from the 1960s or the 2020s’ – he noted.
The dial of the D series was designed based on an Ulysse Nardin model the company created for the former retailer. The hands and applied indexes are curved and the entire watch gives the impression of a pebble thanks to the shape of the case and the Chevé Box-shaped sapphire glass. The series is available in three colour variations: cognac dial – rose gold accents, sunbrushed blue – rhodium, and sunbrushed grey – rhodium. The classic model comes with the choice of leather or a Milanese mesh bracelet.
The X series was inspired by a flight instrument created by Heuer for the former retailer. The watch-face is characterised by the double-digit Arabic numerals and the railroad chapter. The leaf style hands and numerals are coated with SuperLuminova for the black and blue versions (the X02 with beige dial has black painted numbers and the hands are coated with SL). The dial and the movement are encased in the same 41mm diameter (46.5mm lug to lug) and 11.85mm thick steel case and sapphire combo, which makes it just as comfortable as the D series. The three colour versions are: black dial – beige numerals and hands with SuperLuminova, blue dial with white accents, and SuperLuminova – beige dial with black numerals (and no SuperLuminova). Strap colours are matched to these and come in leather and highly durable nylon (NATO).
Both models are built around the same 4Hz, 24 jewel and 68-hours running reserve La Joux-Perret G100 calibre and therefore provide the same time and date functionality.
The Kickstarter campaign runs in June for both models and two sets of drawings by Hakim El Kadiri. The pieces are sold below the future retail price with an expected delivery of December 2022.
Hakim El Kadiri’s response to his overly encumbered situation of riding the waves instead of drowning is what makes his otherwise well-defined timepieces part of his own story as opposed to just simple accessories. It is an authentic endeavour by an individual who knows this industry inside-out and because of this, the chances of actually delivering the pieces on time are high. Good luck Hakim!
Photo credits: Elka Watches
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