Appleseed is known for it's frequent use of visual motifs, or "set pieces," as director Shinji Aramaki likes to refer to them as. In the first CGI movie, the most prominent motif might have been the glass pendant containing the Bioroid reproductive data, where in the second it's the timepieces the worn by Deunan and Briareos. They're effectively used to signify several emotive meanings throughout the episode, all the while upholding the requisite Appleseed level of mechanical complexity.
You can't exactly say they're high tech, because both watches would be considered pretty antiquated given the era of the series. It's interesting that at least one of the models is a clockwork automatic, a mechanical timekeeping technology that would be by then about two-hundred years out of date. Also, they're analog in a world where even digital technology is rapidly falling out of date given the advances in biological computing.
PremiseEditA somewhat reclusive cyborg, and a former man who hasn't yet fully adapted to being three-quarters mechanical, Briareos Hecatonchires appears to take solace in a few things; his career, ensuring Deunan's safe passage during her assignments, and at least in the manga, his continued ability to eat and drink. By the time author Shirow Masamune started to freshen up the Appleseed formula for the second CGI movie, Ex Machina, in 2007, a certain affinity for wristwatches had been added to his list of pleasures. Not just any wristwatch mind you, but something unique, and of course, something incredibly detailed.
During the opening sequence to the film, ES.W.A.T. operatives were instructed to synchronize their watches by Commander Lance, to ensure split second precision during the hostage extraction they were about to perform. Every operative wore a high-tech but uniform wrist-computer with an integrated directional compass, a field-issue unit sporting a resin bracelet, dual steel crowns, and a high-contrast OLED display, angled 45 degrees perpendicular to the strap. In twentieth-century reality, this design was first pioneered by Italian car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro for the Seiko Speedmaster of 1983. This layout allows the wearer to briefly read the time without having to bend their arm to align the digits to their eyes, a practical timesaver for an athlete, or in this case, an elite police agent.
Briareos, on the other hand, is wearing something different.
The "REX" Men's ChronoEdit
Instead of using the standard issue ES.W.A.T. unit, Briareos uses his own analog chronograph, featuring an automatic calibre (mechanism), date counter, and stopwatch. The inside radial of the face contains a tachymeter as well as the necessary markers to calculate distance and liquid fuel consumed, relative to time elapsed, making the watch a variation on a flight data computer.It seems like the calibre has jewel bearings, likely in all 31 potential bearing positions, owing to the continuous sweep seconds hand on the top-most chrono dial. That said, the online stopwatch seconds hand on the main dial moves incrementally, which is in reality is almost impossible to achieve, requiring a complicated sub-calibre assembly to accomplish. In a chronograph, that would push the total amount of such assemblies to five, in addition to the main calibre.
The size of the case is at least 60 millimeters in diameter, making it bigger than most other flight data computer watches, and suggests that it might be an exclusive model designed for cyborgs. The face is reinforced with a steel ring held down by six screws that feature a proprietary tamperproof head similar to the Snakeeye, likely to limit routine servicing options only to certified horologists, not unlike the practices of Rolex and others. The overall appearance of the watch suggests that it is designed to withstand G-force shock and agitation, another hallmark of a flight data computer, but is otherwise not waterproof like a dive watch, given the pushbutton stopwatch controls, which are difficult to seal sufficiently for depth-pressure liquid protection.
The face is covered by some kind of scratchproof crystal, given the clarity of the reflections seen upon the surface. Also, how the material fractures in precise shards when the watch is later damaged, suggests it might be pure clear sapphire, a durable material that resists damage but will shatter completely if hit directly by force. It's used on a lot of high end watches.
The band/bracelet is made of a matte black material that appears to rubber, but is more likely a composite resin, or silicon, as the band is very flexible and can be torn cleanly in half (demonstrated when the chronometer is destroyed), unlike vulcanized rubbers which tend to retain a rigid shape, and warp somewhat when pulled apart. The band is complimented by protector flaps which span the case shoulders (where the band is attached), and sport large REX logos on both.
Given all that info, it's safe to say that Briareos' watch is a plausible design, but that it would be really expensive to build in reality, and a high maintenance device to keep in precision operating condition. Estimated retail prices in today's economy would probably top $15,000, if not more, and would represent the flagship model of the company manufacturing it.
The "REX" Women's StopwatchEdit
Deunan Knute, who's been called a gearhead on more than one occasion, and is an admirer of anything mechanically complicated, might have been responsible for introducing Briareos to the REX brand. She wears a smaller variation of the Men's Chrono, a stopwatch that uses a similar design overall, but only has a date counter and stopwatch function. The inside radial of the face lacks the flight data calculations of Briareos' model, but retains a distance tachymeter. With regards to movement, the seconds hand moves incrementally, which suggests that her watch uses a high-precision quartz calibre, driven either by battery power or a kinetic pendulum attached to a capacitor. The "Building your own REX" segment (see below) would probably produce something visually similar to this model.
Other watches featured in Appleseed: Ex MachinaEdit
Yoshitsune Miyamoto, ES.W.A.T.'s Landmate technician and engineer, is briefly seen wearing an analog wristwatch (see image) that bears passing similarites to the Rolex Explorer II automatic, although the face and band is slightly different. The case has stopwatch controls, even though the watch lacks any additional dials or hands to correspond with such a function.
Later on, a nurse at the Olympus Police Hospital wears a jet-black bracelet watch, with a rectangular face.
Appearances and visual significanceEdit
In the beginning of the film, Manuel Aeacus, another ES.W.A.T. operative, jokingly mocks Briareos for wearing a low-tech analog watch when he himself is a high-tech cyborg. Briareos rebuffs the comment, saying "it's got a heartbeat, just like I do," drawing the viewer's attention to the fact he is still partially human and maintains a cardiovascular system. Following the hostage extraction scene in Prague, after the explosion that throws Deunan out of the catherdral, she first sees Briareos' damaged watch on the cobblestone street, before shoulder-checking to see him slumped facedown on the ground, severely injured. In effect, both "machines" have just been "broken."
Later, in hospital, following Briareos' reconstruction, Deunan presents to him his repaired watch to which he gloomily comments "this thing's tougher than I am." He then takes a look at the crystal, and sees himself reflecting back. Figuratively, the two mechanical faces are looking at each other. The same scene is a segue into a flashback to Briareos' pre-cyborg days. In a way, seeing the watch has made him think back in time.
Following the fight scene involving the construction Landmate, Deunan waves goodbye to Lance, only to see Tereus for the first time, in the reflection of her own wristwatch.
After Deunan prevents the mercy-killing of Briareos by Tereus, administering him a cyborg antidote to temporarily ward off the effects of Halcon virus he's suffering from, she embraces his arm and kisses his wrist, right next to the REX.
Android WidgetEditFans of Briareoses' watch, who have an Android powered smartphone, will be pleased to know that a free app is now available on the Android Market that installs the REX Chronograph on your screen as a clock widget. Currently an early version, the widget gives you three size options for the clock face, but as of yet does not feature animation for the caliber gears seen through the face opening. The widget has been tested on the site admin's Acer Liquid MT (Android Gingerbread 2.2) with no detectable issues. Link for the widget is here.
Building your own REXEdit
Although there are more than a few real-world equivalents (see below for links), I figured out that it could be possible to build something in the style of a non-chronograph REX automatic, for about $400, if you're handy with small parts. Here's the (really) oversimplified guide:
- Buy a Nexxtech Model 44 watch from The Source.
- Gut it, removing the caliber, stem, and face. (You can easily do this in five minutes or less).
- Buy a face designed for an ETA-based Rolex Submariner replica, flip it over, respray in matte black, and have a watchmaker graft on REX decals and flight data markers (good luck with this step, it might be the most difficult of them all).
- Graft in an ETA 2836-2 automatic movement (you can find these in nearly every pawn shop for around $150 – $200) You'll need to make spacers. See here for case interior detail.
- Remove the four "screws" (they're just pins) on the rim around the face, and replace with small diameter, matte black Snakeeye screws, superglued into place.
- You should now have a decent, automatic watch that bears strong similarities to what an entry-level REX might look like.
Similar Real-World WatchesEdit
Addicts of the REX Chrono may be interested in these real world brands that bear more than a passing resemblance, without costing a cybernetic arm and leg to buy (pun intended). No endorsement or promotion of any brand is intended.
- Fossil BQ 9414 (Author's Pick/$180 CAD)
- The BQ 9414 is an-all black, digital and analogue combo chronometer. It features a resin strap with three rows of alternating perferations that immediately brings to mind the Seburo motif, itself alone a big selling point for Shirow Masamune afficianados. The analogue hands (hour, minute, and second) like all the other markers, are painted in a dark charcoal gray, and are not luminous. A navy blue tinted, 2-second back light facilitates night time viewing instead.
- The face is scratch-resistant mineral crystal, while the dial, a high-gloss reverse contrast LCD display, has white digits on a black background, and can alternate between the current time and date (AM/PM or Military Time), a stopwatch, and a daily alarm. Hourly chime is available if desired.
- On the perimeter, the rim of the dial has hour, minute/second and milisecond markers, similar to a flight data watch like the REX, although the milisecond markers are purely decorative given the incremental-movement second hand and serve no function. Outside the crystal, a fixed bezel has a duplicate set of second markers, inscribed with numerals at 5 second intervals.
- The watch case, rated to 100 meters water resistance, is coated in matte black paint, but is clearly meant for light duty. Noticeable wear has begun to accumulate on the author's watch after a few days in a retail work environment, with an unsightly scratch taking off a layer of paint down to the basemetal. So potential buyers will have to either wear it on the weekends only, or be prepared to see some scars develop over time. Hopefully, cyberpunkers like us will welcome this wear and tear; after all, even Briareoses' watch shows scuff marks in Ex Machina, before getting smashed to bits after the hostage extraction ...
- DKNY 1381 ($250 CAD/Special order only)
- Strangely enough, Donna Karan New York has produced a few watches in the past that more or less wouldn't look out of place in the realm of Appleseed. One of the higher priced units (which may or may not be still availble) was the 1381, an analogue chrono on a weave-pattern resin strap. Although perhaps not as properly rugged looking as the newly-discovered BQ 9414 (see above), the 1381 is commendable for having a screw-studded bezel and tachymeter markers on the face perimeter. More of a dressy alternative for certain, but still a contender for anyone's watch collection.
- DKNY 1390, 1391 ($190 CAD/Special order only)
- These two models will appeal more to those who want something along the lines of the digital ES.W.A.T. troop watch seen at the beginning of Ex Machina, not the one Briareos wears. the 139X series is a negative-contrast (white digits on blue) digital watch, with graphite accent stopwatch controls and a silicon polymer bracelet. It's also available in a gold colour scheme as the 1391, see here for image. Both models are available in North America, and the 1390 can be purchased on Amazon (as of 2010).
- Hublot Big Bang King Power ($10,000 to 1,000,000+ CAD)
- The Big Bang series by Hublot is here for honorable mention only. Very similar in design and operation to Briareoses' chrono, these mechanical watches range in price from the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands, depending on configuration, precious metal used, and amount of jewels selected. A diamond encrusted version is known to retail for over one million dollars. The Big Bang King Power, which can be purchased in all-black, have a similar resin band and screw-studded bezel as the REX. Pity you'd have to be very rich in order to have one of these beauties.
Links and TriviaEdit
- Viewers and watch fanatics have been unable to determine whether the last letter in the name, what looks like a stylized "X," could actually be a Japanese Kanji character. If so, that would make the name two English initials R.E. followed by the unknown word.
- The only time a wristwatch was featured in the earlier 2004 Appleseed episode, was during the wargame scene, when Commander Lance checks how long it took for Deunan to eliminate his squad during the practice round. His watch is a black chrono similar to Briareos' in the sequel, but is more basic in design.
- Although all the ES.W.A.T. operatives are supposed to wear watches, it's interesting to note that their traditional forearm armour panels would actually cover over the timepiece. Maybe that's why in the beginning scenes of Ex Machina, a closeup on one operative's wrist shows that he's wearing a slightly shorter armour panel that ends just above the watch.
- The REX Chrono was recently featured on a watch discussion forum, where the possibility of having a one-off replica constructed was toyed with informally, while other similar designs were recommended. You can check it out here.
- Be sure to check out the new Eco-Drive Satellite Wave, designed in part for the new Appleseed XIII series. These are available for general sale, but in limited quantities (900 units worldwide only) and retail for over $3000 USD.