New: Amida Digitrend Take-off Edition

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The Amida makes a comeback with a new Digitrend. The launch edition is known as Amida Digitrend Take-off and is a recreation of the original released in Baselworld 1979.

Press Release information with commentary in italics.

New: Amida Digitrend Take-off Edition

The Amida Digitrend Take-off Edition retails at CHF 2,900 before taxes.


Interesting re-creation of the watch which was digital before its time. Released in 1979, this was a fully mechanical watch with digital display of time. The display is even patented and it was the inspiration behind Max Büsser’s MB&F HM5 (this links to our 2012 article which we seem to have lost the photographs, but our impressions remain. Later review with photographs is here.). Max took derivative inspiration from both the Girard-Perregaux and the Amida, though we think more from the Amida. The GP Casquette (also reincarnated and re-released in 2022 as version 2.0) uses red LED to display the time, and is driven by a quartz movement. It requires a battery to operate.

The Amida was completely mechanical and uses a series of clever optical system to project the hour and minute display. This system is essentially similar to the MB&F HM5.

The concept was reincarnated this year when Matthieu Allègre, Clément Meynier, and Bruno Herbet began work to revive the Amida Digitrend. They kept the basic shape of the car body style case in stainless steel. The Digitrend’s casework draws inspiration from other components of the sports car.

Retained is the optical projection system, but the base movement is now built as a module with two discs showing the hours and minutes placed on top of the Soprod derived base movement.

The module that powers the jumping hour disc system is quite ingenious and only comprise of only 9 mechanical components.

We are meeting Matthieu Allègre and Clément Meynier on May 11 in Singapore where we will handle and photograph the new watch. We will report back to you on the session and our hands-on impressions then.

Release information

Amida revolutionized the watchmaking industry. That same year, on July 21st, humanity took first steps on the Moon, opening a whole new frontier. The possibilities seemed endless.

The AMIDA Revolution

That same year, 1976, an innovative watch, the Swiss watchmaking brand AMIDA unveils the Digitrend at the Basel Fair – causing a sensation. 

 Flashback. It’s April 24, 1976, and as you approach Booth 603 in Hall 1, an astonishing object, both androgynous and gender-neutral, immediately catches the eye. There is no dial. In its place, a display screen under a crystal, evoking the dashboard of a sports car or spacecraft controls. The case is far from conventional, too. Breaking away from usual formalism, structured and bold, it mimics the sleek lines of a road racer. The ergonomic design naturally wraps itself around the wrist. With its chrome-plated metal shell and matching wide-link bracelet, it is a bold departure from the norm, merging form with futuristic function.

Visually unmissable and unconventionally proportioned at a width of 39.8 mm, the watch sits perfectly on the wrist. Its vertical display, prized by drivers as it allowed for easy reading of the time without taking a hand off the wheel, positioned it as a quintessential ‘form follows function’ watch. Perfect for astronauts as well. 

Made in the 70s

 Defying expectations, the Digitrend doesn’t rely on the then-popular electric or quartz movements, nor does its display stem from LED or LCD (liquid crystal display) technology. Embodying Swiss watchmaking’s finest practices, the Digitrend features a manually wound mechanical movement, showcasing a blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern design.

Initially established in Grenchen in 1925 by Joseph Zwahlen and then relocated to Montreux by Ernest Triebold in 1949, AMIDA has continuously evolved. From the outset, the brand distinguished itself by embracing modernity and aligning with contemporary trends, notably adopting pin-lever or visible anchor movements with ‘Rosskopf’ escapements for affordability and competitiveness into the early 1970s. This approach enabled AMIDA to maintain relevance and appeal through changing times.

Jumping Hours and Optical Illusion

For its spectacular Digitrend model, AMIDA opted for two movement types: a visible anchor movement (1 jewel) and a pin anchor movement (17 jewels), which together allowed for a jumping hour disc and a trailing minute disc (Patent No. 3,685,283 filed on November 13, 1970, by Joseph Bamat from La-Tour-de-Peilz in Switzerland; the same patent number that appears on the back of Digitrend watches). There is no luminous or electronic display. So what is the secret?

AMIDA’s idea is more than ingenious. The readout is actually an optical effect created by a crystal in the shape of a prism – think submarine periscope. The movement operates horizontally, but the ‘image’ of the hour and minute discs is projected vertically. AMIDA called its system LRD (for Light Reflecting Display), which was patented under No. 3,786,626 on April 5, 1973, by its inventor, Zeno Hurt, from Molhin, Switzerland, on behalf of Robert Triebold. A remarkable and singular proposition in horology that makes the Digitrend a watch truly ‘extra-ordinary.’ 

An Inspiring Success

The AMIDA Digitrend stood out as a timepiece perfectly aligned with its era, quickly achieving success. Despite competition from other futuristic, electronically-powered ‘cap-shaped’ watches, the Digitrend’s mechanical movement helped it become one of the most iconic ‘digital-display’ Space Watches. This fusion of traditional mechanics with a forward-looking design underscored its unique appeal in the watch industry.

Although AMIDA went bankrupt in 1979, the iconic Digitrend endured, will be a source of inspiration for independent watchmakers from the 2010s onwards. This watch has stood the test of time as an ageless piece admired and coveted by enthusiasts and collectors alike. 

2024: Digitrend ‘Take-Off Edition’ – The Cool Watch for Modern Times

Back to the future. 2024 marks the great comeback of AMIDA’s Digitrend: reimagined, refined, modernized and perfected through the deep commitment of enthusiast Matthieu Allègre, his partner Clément Meynier, and talented horological engineer Bruno Herbet.

A Dream Team at the Controls

After honing his skills at design agencies throughout Switzerland and working at Piaget, Matthieu Allègre embarked on his entrepreneurial journey at just 27 years old in 2015, eager to explore his full creative potential. Within just a decade, Allègre collaborated with over fifty brands, including such prestigious Maisons as Louis Vuitton, Chopard, Jacob & Co, and Corum, showcasing his significant impact in the watch design industry,

Recently, he contributed to the creation of the Chronomètre Artisans alongside Simon Brette, a rising star in independent watchmaking, who was notably recognized at the GPHG 2023.

From his office in Geneva, Allègre coordinates and designs the watches for Lyrique, a venture led by Bill Sanders that brings together a hundred collectors around an Agenhor caliber, set in a case made by Voutilainen & Cattin SA. This project has gained prestigious status among Haute Horlogerie enthusiasts. 

Clément Meynier enhances the team with his visionary entrepreneurship. As the founder of KOPPO and Depancel, and a lover of automobiles and design, his expertise in distribution and strategy is invaluable: “As an entrepreneur in the watchmaking world, it’s an incredible opportunity for me to be able to relaunch a historic and pioneering brand – and one of the first to have this vision of a watch, not as a mere functional object, but as an object of art and mechanical design. What’s more, AMIDA inspired the vision of those who made me passionate about watchmaking, namely MB&F and Urwerk.” 

Bruno Herbet is the third key talent behind AMIDA’s resurgence, tackling the project’s technical challenges. As an engineer specializing in micro-mechanical watchmaking and a seasoned watchmaker in the Vallée de Joux, the cradle of Swiss watchmaking, Herbet has an impressive background with prestigious brands such as Jaeger-LeCoultre and Vacheron Constantin. He also served as the technical director for Orkos, a vibrant new brand, bringing a wealth of experience to the revitalization of AMIDA. 

The Incredible Story of a Renaissance

Beyond a shared passion for watches, what led Matthieu Allègre and his partners to revive the AMIDA brand? Their story is truly remarkable. It began in 2015. A friend of Allègre’s had just acquired forty new old-stock AMIDA Digitrend watches at an auction. When he held one in his hands, it was a revelation for the watch and design enthusiast. 

 “I discovered AMIDA as a brand through a friend almost 10 years ago. I just fell in love with the Digitrend and its disruptive, retro-futuristic style. Then, as a designer, I immediately thought about the variety of possibilities this watch could offer, in terms of style but above all in terms of the obvious link with the automotive world. That was even before I realized that it had already inspired other independent brands. Later, as I delved into the brand’s history, I went from discovery to discovery, delighting in every clue like a researcher. Until it became an obsession,” shares Matthieu Allègre.

One aspect that resonated with Allègre is the watch’s strong identity. Not only because of its history, which runs parallel to the rise of quartz digital watches, and the rich narrative it presents. Aesthetically, too, it has distinctive personality that encapsulates an era, evoking a multitude of technical and socio-cultural references. And technically, its original display system demonstrates ingenuity. That was all it took to spark the watch designer’s ambition to launch a new project. For a time, he even contemplated creating a new brand from scratch.

Off to New Horizons

One thing is for sure: for Matthieu Allègre, this somewhat – and undeservedly so – overlooked watch has been a serendipitous find. Drawing from its space-age inspiration and intrinsic ties to automotive design, the Digitrend’s case construction mirrors that of a sports car’s bodywork. This led to Allègre embarking on an initial project that blended the watch’s features with the brand universe of a renowned British sports car maker, and approaching a major Swiss watchmaking brand to get the idea off the ground. When the collaboration did not materialize, Allègre decided in 2022 to relaunch the brand himself, venturing into, for him uncharted territory.

Uniting energies with his infectious passion, Allègre, a determined perfectionist, brought all the stakeholders together to solve the legal hurdles, paving the way for AMIDA’s resurgence. In 2020, engineer and watchmaker Bruno Herbet, who had worked at Daniel Roth and Gérald Genta’s workshops in the past, joined the venture. He was soon followed by Clément Meynier, a horology aficionado with a degree from the prestigious Paris Arts et Métiers engineering and research institute, who by then had founded KOPPO and Depancel. The trio’s diverse strengths would naturally coalesce in the revival project for this standout watch– and a new chapter began unfolding.

Better than a tool watch, a cool watch – for the new adventures of the 21st century

Though he didn’t have to start with a blank page, Matthieu Allègre did see value in aligning the watch with our time. While it preserves the essence of the model first introduced in 1976, the new AMIDA Digitrend ‘Take-Off Edition’ presents a number of improvements. The car body-style case, machined from a block of 316 L stainless steel, has seen its contours refined for sleeker aesthetics and improved finishes, enhancing its fluid profile. The subtly redesigned case, water-resistant to 50 meters, now has an open back, revealing the regulating organ of the mechanical self-winding movement – Soprod’s modern and reliable Newton caliber (23 jewels), which beats at 28,800 vibrations per hour (4 Hz) and offers 44 hours of power reserve. 

Featuring an in-house developed module with a unique dual-disc construction of only 9 components, doubling as both a plate and a casing ring, this modern movement – with the tightest tolerances – incorporates jumping hours for exceptional efficiency and precision. Amplifying these technical improvements find themselves amplified by aesthetic refinements, like the redesigned minute window and completely redesigned typography – true to the original orange digits emblematic of the 70s. The logo, signed by typeface and graphic designer Johann Terrettaz whose credits include Urwerk and Akrivia, also took a leap through time. The supple and sensuous strap, combining calfskin and Alcantara, complements the watch’s overall eye-catching presence.

Online Pre-Orders – Limited in Time Only

Opting for an AMIDA Digitrend is a statement of individuality. To acquire the new AMIDA Digitrend ‘Take-Off Edition’, enthusiasts must act fast during the exclusive preorder window from May 28, 2024. Although there is no limit to the quantity of watches, the short online preorder period of time is set in stone and exclusive to AMIDA’s website. Deliveries will be scheduled for October 2024.

A Hybrid Distribution Approach

As another original feature, AMIDA introduces a novel hybrid distribution method. It will be available for e-commerce on AMIDA’s website as well as through a handful of ambassadors chosen among the most selective and demanding retailers. These partners are at the forefront, making the market tick and supporting new creations, be it for their technical intricacy or their unique design, through their independence, experience and stature. These special relationships will pave the way for unique and personalized collaborations. Meanwhile, the brand’s online platform will ensure a seamless and swift purchasing experience, benefiting from the flexibility of its exclusive omnichannel distribution model. 

‘Crew Member’ – Joining the AMIDA Adventure

Ultimately, choosing an AMIDA Digitrend means joining a special community of enthusiasts. It means embarking on a journey as a founding member of an informal, modern club dedicated to reviving this legendary model. Early buyers of the inaugural ‘Take-Off Edition’ will be made official Crew Members of AMIDA, marking their integral role at the heart of the project.

Amida Digitrend Take-off Edition Specifications

Caliber               Soprod NEWTON P092, Swiss automatic mechanical winding
Auxiliary             Jumping hour disc developed in-house
module               with 9 mechanical components and 6 screws
Jewels                23 rubies
Frequency          28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power reserve    44 hours
Thickness           Movement : 4.6mm / Auxiliary module: 2mm
Finishes             Côtes de Genève, sandblasted, circular-grained
                           Skeletonized oscillating weight
                           Rhodium-plated finishes
Indications          Dual discs, for hours and minutes, respectively
                           (LRD – Light Reflective Display)
Material              316L stainless steel, satin-brushed and polished
Dimensions        Width: 39 mm / Length: 36 mm / Height: 15.6 mm
Crystal                Sapphire crystal reflective prism
Water                  5 ATM (50 meters)
Strap & Buckle    Charcoal Alcantara lined in orange calfskin
Lug width:            22mm
                            Stainless steel buckle, 18mm
Weight                110 grams
Price                   CHF 2’900.- (excluded VAT)

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