The Origin Story

December 14, 2023
Nava Krishnan, founder

In the ebb and flow of my days, it was my Halios Seaforth GMT that quietly nudged me toward a realization—an irregularity lurking in the midst of ubiquitous GMT complications. With family ties in India, where the GMT+5:30 time zone does not adhere to conventional GMT standards, a seemingly minor 30-minute offset meant a daily compromise—I always found myself rounding down the time. It was a gamble sometimes, to decipher whether my family may answer my calls or be sound asleep. The quest to bridge this temporal divide ignited a passion to create a solution, mainly for myself, but consequentially for the people residing in what we affectionately term "rogue" time zones.

Determined not to fashion a dual-time watch or a niche complication—for those were waters tread—I dived into the technical builds of GMT complications like the ETA 2893 and Sellita SW330. After many weeks of fruitless blueprinting; a revelation struck—a multi-vertex hand, like a cosmic spider weaving through spacetime. An unassuming navigator capable of triangulating distinct time zones' minutes and hours within a singular structure.

The solution seemed technically possible, but I needed a watchmaker's nod of approval to really know. I met with a seasoned German watchmaker I admired and walked him through the concept. When I was done talking, he bemusedly remarked that it eluded him why nobody had thought to do this. It was so simple; obvious even. He retreated into a spell of contemplative silence, and his wife translated his stoic demeanor as unbridled excitement. I knew I had something.

With the foundation laid for the PAN-GMT, I took an impromptu journey to Baselworld 2019, unaware it would be the final chapter of this extraordinary watch fair. I walked into a fantasy land. Amidst luminaries like Max Busser and the Gronefeld brothers, my excitement was barely contained during my meetings. The PAN-GMT concept, born out of a sense of practicality, resonated with those who understood the micro worlds of timekeeping. The surprise and validation of renowned manufacturers meant it all. Though Baselworld is gone, those memories will stay with me forever.

The subsequent design phase was a crucible of challenges. Months of meticulous planning, prototyping, and R&D culminated in a breakthrough: the Delta Type, a marvel that defied convention by being able to showcase any two time zones on Earth. Visually, the design transformed from minimalism to familial symbolism, echoing my grandmother's embroidery; a piece destined to be a cherished heirloom.

The prototype, a collaborative marvel spanning Switzerland, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, and Italy, emerged as a 39mm x 11mm testament to innovation. The Ardra Labs logo—inspired by kolam, an ancient Indian art form of weaving delicate patterns on the floor with rice powdergleams in gold on the rotor, visible through the crystalline case back. The black dial, a cosmic abyss, cradled a constellation of sand-blasted hands and intricately embroidered indices.

Only when I put the prototype on my wrist for the first time did I feel I had solved the GMT problem. I glanced at it, smiled, and called my family.