automotive history

The Story Of Ultra Ripple Milling

The Story Of Ultra Ripple Milling

The Story of Ultra Ripple Milling

The origins of the Ultra Ripple pattern can be traced all the way back to a RedBar Copenhagen meeting held in late 2022.

Around fifty watch lovers gathered in a low-key bar not far from Arcanaut’s headquarters in the Danish capital. The cost of entry to the event came with the promise of an open bar, which led to a convivial atmosphere overtaking proceedings before long, and the free-flowing watch-related chat we all enjoy so much.

Around this time, Arcanaut’s Fordite series, which, back then, consisted of Groovy and Linear variants, was gaining some traction. Curious about the small independent outfit that was able to turn out unique pieces faster than core collection models, watch collectors from all over the country descended en masse.

The evening began with speeches from brand co-founder and chief designer Anders Brandt, head of materials development James Thompson, and the recently hired head of brand development Rob Nudds. Between them, the trio outlined the plan for Arcanaut’s upcoming releases, but by the time the speeches drew to a close, the concept of Ripple Milled Fordite was yet to be born…

In the crowd that night was our good friend Christoffer from local CNC machiners Schwartz. Arcanaut had partnered with Schwartz for the brand’s inaugural D’Arc Matter model, finding in them a company able of working with the in-house-developed composite that starts life as lumps of Swedish slate and ends up a perfectly finished dial ready for the ARC II case (and the wrists of our customers around the world).

Anders, James, and Rob grabbed their (free) beers and posted up next to Christoffer, who had been eagerly trying to get their attention. He looked excited. There was clearly something he wanted to say. The boys huddled around in a tight circle and Christoffer reached into his pocket…

“What do you think?” he asked, as the Arcanautians handed the sample dial from one to the other in sequence, turning it over in their hands. He has presented them with a brass blank, machined with a topographical surface of waves. It looked like a mountain range in the palm of the hand. And yet, as interesting as it was, the gang were not immediately convinced.

Rob started making strange sounds. Like an old machine creaking into life, he groaned audibly as the gears in large head (which we’ve since discovered, is mostly bone), started to turn.

“I don’t love it in brass,” he said, his critique as honest as it always was (especially after some hoppy lubrication), but what would happen if we took some of those ‘almost linear’ dials we were working on and tried it on that? Has anyone ever done that with Fordite before?”

Instantly, Anders’ eyes lit up, as if reminded of a distant memory that had been buried under heaps of logsitical stress.

“You know, I think we talked about trying to shape Fordite in a similar way before, but we never got round to trying it. Would it work, James?”

“You know,” grinned the affable Canadien, “I’ve been wanting to try this for a while. I’ve been dreaming about ‘deconstructing’ the material even further now we’ve gotten to grips with how it behaves. With this pattern already set-up, why not give it a go? The worst thing that could happen is that it blows up and kills everyone within a ten mile radius.”

And so try it they did…

Thankfully, nobody died.

Arcanaut’s experimenets with Ripple Milling intensified over the following months. The process was theoretically simple; in practice, it required many steps, patient preparation, gentle machining, and a delicate finish.

As always, every dial is unique. A slice of history. Ripple Milling allows us to “see through time” with every line representing a different car that lived its life on the highways of America (and might still be out there running today).

The “Ultra” effect, which is most akin to a traditional “ripple” that one might expect to see from throwing a pebble into a lake, is something new. We’ve experimented with two variations thereof.

“Ultra Ripple” is a smooth, undulating concentric pattern that sees the colours in play transition gracefully from one to another.

The “Ultra Bit” version takes a pixelated approach, with each revealed layer of Fordite revealed in a coruscating pattern.

A little about Fordite…

Known also as Detroit or Motor City Agate, Fordite is a fascinating material created as a byproduct of the automobile industry.

Fordite is car paint that has accumulated over time in the paint bays of Detroit area car factories between the 1970s and 1990s.

Each piece is entirely unique, with hundreds of stories revealed by every slice. Sadly, modern car production techniques mean Fordite is no longer produced in such enduring quality, so these pieces are the first and last of their kind.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out directly. Please email with all queries.

All standard Groovy models retail for USD 3,950 excluding taxes (but including shipping). Ripple Milled variants retail for USD 4,450 excluding taxes (but including shipping).

Assembly times are coming down, but please allow 6–8 weeks for the watches to be shipped. We’ll do our utmost to get them to you sooner, but it will all depend on where your order falls in the assembly queue.

We look forward to welcoming you to the tribe.

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