A very rare, collectible and highly unusual limited edition Nixie tube stainless steel quartz wristwatch with digital display from Gelfman, the independent watch brand founded in 2014 by entrepreneur and collector Ilya Gelfman. The limited edition was launched in 2014. Stainless steel case, double-tube shape, 45.9 x 47.8 mm, 20.5 mm thick, cylindrical crystals with sapphire coating. Quartz caliber with integrated rechargeable lithium-ion battery that powers the watch for up to 5 days. Functions – retrievable sequential digital display of time in hours and minutes, battery level indicator, built-in gyroscope (for wrist gesture recognition), low battery notification. Gelfman dark grey rubber strap, Gelfman stainless steel double pin buckle. No. 001 of 999 pieces limited edition.
In 2014, Ilya Gelfman came up with the idea of releasing wristwatches under his own brand name. His idea was a retrofuturistic electronic digital watch, where the time is displayed via nixie tubes (cold cathode neon readout tubes). The watch, named IN -16 Nixie, was given a case designed in collaboration with Atelier Gryaznov Design, while independent watchmaker Konstantin Chaykin helped with production as a consultant. The watch uses two vintage Nixie tubes made in the 1980s on USSR. This allowed for a very eye-catching display with large numerals, unimaginable in mechanical watches. The IN-16 Nixie watch is equipped with a very sophisticated modern controller that allows a special application to communicate with the watch through the gadget and program the functions and display characteristics of the watch. Since the watch is capable of displaying two digits at a time, a sequential algorithm for the display was developed, in which the watch first displays two digits for the hour and then two digits for the minutes.
The boldness of the idea behind IN-16 Nixie was underlined by a nomination for the GPHG, the most prestigious award in the watch industry.
The design of the IN-16 Nixie combines avant-garde, retrofuturistic, cyberpunk and post-apocalyptic motifs, while the stainless steel case is machined and finished to exacting watchmaking standards. The retrofuturistic style originated in the late 1950s, right around the time the Nixie tubes were invented, as a fusion of streamline moderne and rocket technology that was new for the time. The two Nixie tubes make up the bulk of the IN-16 Nixie watch, so its case is basically two cylinders with cowlings on the top and bottom, making the watch look like a spaceship booster. Interestingly, space technology has kept this style to this day, including Elon Musk’s Starship.
The IN-16 Nixie was designed and built as a high-end collector’s watch that combines digital vacuum tube technology, originally developed in the 1950s, with state-of-the-art networked technology in a computer application that offers many features, some of which are exclusive to this watch.
In 2022, the Gelfman IN-16 Nixie watch was nominated in the ‘Petite Aiguille’ category at the GPHG Geneva Grand Prix of Haute Horlogerie, the most prestigious award in the global watch industry.
Production of the IN-16 Nixie is limited to 999 pieces. The present example is the first timepiece of a limited edition.
Reasons to bid
Gelfman’s IN-16 Nixie represents the modern period of collector watch development, which shows a very strong interest in vintage-style wristwatches. Against this background, IN-16 Nixie represents a very rare specialization thanks to the fusion of vintage electronics with a modern infrastructure of gadget applications, as the common interest is to reproduce the style of mechanical wristwatches from the classic era. The boldness of the idea behind IN-16 Nixie was underlined by a nomination for the GPHG, the most prestigious award in the watch industry. Therefore, the present lot is an excellent opportunity to own a bold, modern collector’s watch that is unique in both design and execution. This watch bears the number 001 of the limited edition, which adds to the appeal of the lot.
*Under the aegis of Maître Marco Breitenmoser, Huissier Judiciaire