10th Anniversary: Kobold Soarway Case

In 2003, Kobold launched the Soarway Collection of professional-grade tool watches. At the core of this new line of watches was the Soarway case, featuring a design that has stood the test of time. The key design elements of the Soarway case are its robust, round case with parallel lugs; screw-locked strap bars with a patented interlocking system; a highly secured and exacting rotating bezel, prominent crown and push button guards; as well as a thick screw-down caseback. Since its introduction, the Soarway Collection has been expanded to include some of the toughest watches on earth. Among those watches are an iconic model for deep-sea divers (the SEAL); the world’s first mechanical watch featuring all the functions desired by professional polar explorers (the Polar Surveyor); a timekeeper for special operators (the SMG), as well as a chronograph for Navy SEALs and snipers (the Phantom). Yet for all its impressive technical features, the Soarway case has a back story that is the stuff of legends. In the year 2000, Kobold founder Michael Kobold and Kobold’s ambassador in chief, British explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, set out to do research for Sir Ranulph’s bestselling book The Secret Hunters. During their time together, the two men would take their minds off the gruesome facts of the story contained within The Secret Hunters by trading stories of watchmaking and exploration. It was during this time, that Kobold asked Fiennes to help him design a watch that could be worn in any environment and still be trusted to tell time accurately. Kobold then asked his mentor, Chronoswiss founder and master watchmaker Gerd-R. Lang, for help achieving a balanced design that wouldn’t compromise the robustness of the watch he and Fiennes envisioned. The Soarway case was created in a process lasting more than two years. Between 2000 and 2003, the three men met repeatedly to closely study and revise the design and functions of this tough, small time vault. Prototypes of the Soarway case were ordered from several companies specializing in manufacturing watch cases, as well as from Kobold Industries’ own machine shop. And in early 2003 the two final prototypes of the Polar Surveyor and Phantom chronographs were ready for Lang, Fiennes and Kobold to inspect. The watches met their approval and the first series entered production. In 2004, actor James Gandolfini designed an unusual-looking watch with a new take on the Soarway case. The watch was initially only to be made once. In fact, Kobold didn’t even bother to give the watch its own name, at first simply calling it Soarway Diver (the name of another diver’s watch already in production). Yet despite its tough start, the so-called SEAL (not named after the United States Navy SEALs) has become a mainstay of the Kobold Soarway Collection, outselling every model besides the Phantom Over the past decade, the Soarway case has often been imitated but never successfully copied.