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WatchTime

januari 18, 2024

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Hands-On with the CIGA Design Blue Planet – Gilding Version

A while back I flew over Greenland, and as I watched the snow-covered mountains below me, the sun hit them at just the right angle making everything look golden. It was a stunning sight, and this was also the first thought that came to me when I opened the box of the CIGA Design Blue Planet – Gilding Version. As its name indicates, this watch is the sequel to the Blue Planet, a watch that in 2021 won the Challenge Watch Prize at the GPHG. While the Gilding Version is in many ways the same watch, CIGA Design took a slightly different approach to the design, in essence creating a more luxurious version of the timepiece.

The main difference between the two editions is that the 46mm large case is no longer crafted from stainless steel or titanium, but now black ceramic. This change makes the watch comparable to the titanium version of the Blue Planet in terms of weight., but offers an entirely different appearance. Although it has a gloss finish, the black ceramic makes the watch look smaller than its siblings. For those with medium to smaller wrists who are a bit intimidated by the 46mm diameter, I can only say don’t be. The smooth and domes design combined with the lack of lugs makes it wear more like a 42mm large watch.

CIGA Design delivers the Blue Planet – Gilding Version with two options to secure it around your wrist. The first is a rubber strap, as we already know from the original Blue Planet, yet it is now in black. It comes with a well-executed folding clasp that not only looks good, but also wears comfortable. The other option is perhaps even more exciting, as this is a black ceramic bracelet. CIGA Design opted for links that fall a little bit over each other, like the scales of a reptile. The bracelet lacks a micro-adjustment function, as the vast majority of the watches with a ceramic bracelet. The links are small enough to compensate for this, as adding one doesn’t make a huge difference. The bracelet also comes with a nice butterfly clasp in a gold-tone matching the face of the timepiece. The overall quality perception of the case and the bracelet rivals that of a Rado, which I still count as the benchmark when it comes to ceramic watches.

Remember what I mentioned earlier about the sun that gave the snow-covered mountains of Greenland a golden glow? This refers to the domed inner section of the CIGA Design Blue Planet – Gilding Version, which also plays a vital element in the way that this watch tells time. Unlike other watches, this timepiece does not have regular hands. Instead, the inner domed section makes a full rotation every 12 hours. A compass rose serves as the time indicator, pointing to a ring surrounding the domed inner section that makes a full rotation every hour. This tells you the minutes, while the stationary outer ring features the hours. While it takes some getting used to, you soon discover that this is a very elegant way to tell time. I also noticed that I usually just glance at where the compass rose is pointing on the outer ring to get an idea of the time, only checking the inner ring when I really need to be more specific.

The beauty of this way of telling time is also that there is an entire domed central segment to play with. Like with the Blue Planet, did CIGA Design opt again to look at Earth from space and micro-carve the continents and its mountains. The big difference is that it kept the oceans as black as the case and hand-applied 24-karat gold to the landmass. The result is a vibrant play of light, while the warm glow of the yellow gold offers a beautiful contrast to its black surroundings. While this watch can’t possibly be called understated, its overall look is far more sophisticated in real life than one might imagine. The gold-continents are so detailed that you simply cannot help yourself staring at it.

This makes you almost overlook the quality of the rings surrounding the domed inner section. While CIGA Design could have easily gotten away with printing the scale, they made them in relief. This offers a few advantages. The first is that they are much easier to read from different angles. Additionally, does it also add to the play of light and the depth perception of the watch. It also makes this CIGA Design look even more luxurious. While also a bit domed, the brand kept the sapphire crystal covering this all in check. While it still has some reflections that make photographing it correctly quite a challenge, in everyday life, they are never bothersome nor interfere with reading the time. The edge where the sapphire crystal connects with the ceramic case is cut at an angle, which also reflects some light, making also the side view of the CIGA Design Blue Planet – Gilding Version a pleasing one.

The ceramic crown offers enough grip and fits nicely in the overall design. It is connected to the automatic movement that powers this timepiece. CIGA Design doesn’t tell much about this Chinese-made movement, which looks a lot like the workhorse movements ETA and Sellita make. The decorations are basic but pleasing, and the view on them is somewhat obstructed by printing on the transparent insert in the case back that celebrates the win of the Blue Planet at the GPHG. Running at 4Hz/28,800 VpH and offering a 40-hour power reserve, it is on par with the Swiss competition. The numbers in terms of accuracy that CIGA Design does communicate is between -20/+40 seconds per day. Most likely, its actual performance is in a much narrower range, as the motions of your wrist also affect this. Due to the way that the Blue Planet – Gilding Edition tells time, and the fact that it lacks a seconds hand, make it unlikely that you notice a significant deviation in time.

CIGA Design kept the packaging of the Blue Planet – Gilding Edition in the same line as the original Blue Planet. This means that you get a book-like box in which the watch, strap, and bracelet are placed. It’s not only fun and original, but also needs less space in storage. With the original Blue Planet being already so good that it impressed the jury of the GPHG, this Gilding Edition takes the unique design of the watch to an even higher level. An impressive creation by CIGA Design and a great promise for the future.

To learn more, visit CIGA Design, here

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