(Note: this article has been updated due to owning and living with the Rigid Case)
When it comes to cocktail events, parties, or such as the day in question, a gathering of like-minded watch enthusiasts, there is a rhythm to the proceedings. One arrives alone or with a group and instantly pulls toward familiar and kind faces. However, they are not the first stop. Where some make the open bar their first destination, seeking out the hosts and a simple gesture of gratitude is in order. Then, one makes their way to the many familiar faces and finds comfort in the common and shared embrace of seeing one another in a new environment. When done right, this group dynamic becomes a magnet for others who do not have the fortune to be in a room with those they can quickly call friends.
On this day, a group of RedBar members from Toronto and I descended upon Analog Shift’s headquarters in Manhattan. After politely disbanding and regrouping to get rid of a stranger who was only comfortable in a room filled with his voice, we started attracting kinder and more considerate strangers. One of these strangers was a local named Ansel Duff, and he instantly blended in with the courteous crowd from Canada. After a few minutes, it became apparent that he was a RedBar member and an entrepreneur in the field that had brought us together that day.
Last time, we explored the work of Dr. James Fan and his watch, the Exciton II. Like Dr. Fan, Mr. Duff is a member of RedBar who is passionate enough about the field of horology to make the field a better place with a new product. While Dr. Fan designed the perfect watch for the scientist in a laboratory setting, Mr.Duff of Temporal Goods has created the perfect watch case for those concerned about keeping their beloved timepiece safe while on the go. You may ask why someone would do this, and the answer in both cases is that a very bright person became frustrated with the current offerings on the market and, instead of simply complaining about it, bothered to come up with a solution.
The Rigid Case in person
As an engineer who worked on race cars, Mr. Duff knows a thing or two about proper materials and manufacturing methods for making a quality product that can stand up to unforeseen stresses. The terms premium and durable come to mind when holding this case, but both are an understatement. This was made apparent by holding the case and spending time looking at the carbon fiber and the build’s solidity level. It was also evident when Mr. Duff gleefully placed the watch case on the floor and proudly stood on top of it, where the case easily handled all his body weight.
“I was just tired of the leather pouches and rolls that were available,” said Mr. Duff as he explained why this product had to be made. “With a case like this, I can throw it into my gym bag and have it as a part of my daily carry and never have to worry about my watch.” Using aircraft-grade aluminum and carbon fiber, this watch case will outlive its owner and survive impacts that reduce us, squishy humans, into a powder. The finishing on the example I held that evening was exemplary. The transitions from each surface were treated to the same level as a high-end luxury watch. The entire case is manufactured and sourced from the United States, not from a region not paying a living wage to their workers. This is a critical point for Mr. Duff and something he is proud of. As consumers, we have unfortunately become accustomed to paying low prices for our goods because our products are manufactured in far-off lands with minimal concern about the humans who make the products. This is something that you, the reader, should keep in mind for the final section of this article.
The case’s interior mirrors the high-tech carbon fiber exterior with a padded soft microsuede and a pillow with a lot of thought put into its design. We both laughed when mentioning watch pillows in other cases on the market and how there are either very hard or so soft that every watch simply slips off them. The lid is also lined with a protective layer of cushioning and the same padded microsuede, ensuring a hospitable home for your watch.
After handling the case for a few minutes, various matters and scenarios ran through my mind, one of which was that this case was the ideal ‘home’ for my most valued watches. Its attractive appearance makes it a perfect display stand that can be quickly sealed and thrown into my work bag. From a genuine and practical standpoint, it would have allowed me to travel to New York with a second watch. Unlike a few collectors in attendance that day, who had traveled to New York on domestic flights, international travelers would have to deal with overzealous customs agents when they returned home. As a result, we carry warranties for our timepieces on our travels and limit the number of watches we travel with. The fact that this case holds only one watch would have been ideal for my trip.
Furthermore, accidents happen to even those who do their best to prepare. I had seen passengers’ carry-ons thrown into overhead compartments by airline staff with no care about the contents of one’s bags. I once had my work bag squeezed into an overhead compartment where another passenger’s water bottle burst due to the pressure and soaked my bag. My work bag is waterproof, and all of its contents were fine, but the Rigid Case from Temporal would have been appreciated due to its crush-proof and water-resistant construction. Thus, this watch case is not just for those who may decide to check a bag with a luxury watch.
The Optional Air Tag Attachment
The Rigid Case can be ordered with an attachment that houses an Apple Air Tag so that you can keep track of your watch in case it is misplaced. The Air Tag housing is an addition to the Rigid Case and is attached to the bottom using high-quality adhesives. I asked if it was possible to somehow incorporate the Air Tag compartment into a hidden section within the case so that if anyone stole the case, they would not immediately be made aware that they were being tracked. Mr. Duff had already thought about this, and in his testing, the Air Tag’s signal could not penetrate the case itself, which is essentially a Faraday cage for your watch. This is a good thing for those with more delicate mechanical watches. On top of carrying magnetic devices such as laptops, tablets, and e-readers, many poplar bags utilize magnets in their construction for access points. This makes the Rigid Case an even more enticing product for collectors.
I suggest that there be a thin plastic cap covering the Air Tag. This way, at first glance, the would-be thief would not instantly be aware of the device, increasing the chances of the watch’s owner being able to track down the watch case and its contents. If the thief uses an iPhone, they will receive a notification that an Air Tag is following them. Apple has the feature turned on for obvious security reasons, but with 70.93% of the world’s mobile phone market being that of Android devices (as of October 2022), there gives the owner a fighting chance in tracking down their valued timepiece.
Living with the Rigid Case
Having and owning the Rigid Case has allowed me to enjoy my mechanical watches with a peace of mind I have never had before. Knowing that my watch is safe in my work bag has allowed me to wear my mechanical watches more frequently. I can now easily stow it away and put on my Garmin or my G-Shock when I enter any environment with many people and make myself less of a target. This is considering the number of robberies surrounding luxury goods such as watches have skyrocketed as inflation and subsequent economic crises have criminals turning towards these appreciable assets.
The build quality of the Rigid Case is much nicer than I remembered. The carbon fiber is gorgeous, and it is evident that it is sanded by hand to perfection. The lid has a bunch of surprises as well. The knurling around the end is grippy and very precise. The muscle memory of opening and closing this lid naturally becomes a joyful part of one’s routine. The lid also has a giant rubber gasket that further aids in the tactile feeling and ritual of engaging with this case.
I opted not to option the Apple AirTag module, and by doing so, another little detail came to light. When placed on a hard surface such as a glass table, the base of the Rigid Case creates a small pocket of air. This adds the slightest suction sensation to the case when lifting it. The impeccable smoothness and tolerances of the aluminum used are to thank for this. Using this case is a joy and a tactile experience that will make the types of people who spend a fair amount of money on tactile experiences such as mechanical watches very happy.
The Rigid Case is also a lot lighter than I remembered. In New York, I handled the case fitted with the AirTag module, but without it, it is simply perfect for those who already have tracking devices in their workbags. If you travel with one watch, need to stow it away from sight throughout the day, and care about the well-being of the timepiece, the Rigid Case is worth every penny of its asking price.
At first, I did not think that the Rigid Case was for me and that I was not the target demographic, and Mr. Duff ensured that I was. One of the biggest lessons I have learned from writing about watches and interviewing the humans who bother to make the world a better place through their passion for this industry is that they are incredibly bright and should be listened to. Ansel Duff is one of these humans. His creation has allowed me to enjoy my beloved Seamaster 300 and its hilariously attention-grabbing polished case and bracelet almost daily. This is also the case for timepieces such as my Louis Erard x Alain Silberstein La Semaine, which always attracts more attention than I would like. I am incredibly grateful to people like Mr. Duff and many others in this industry, who have made my life more beautiful and joyous.
The elephant in the room, which, to be honest, is in a room filled with other elephants; it’s just the most recent elephant to enter the room, is the USD 350 price tag. Some have said that this is too much money for such a product. All those I have spoken to were unaware that this case is entirely made in the United States and has a lifetime warranty. Furthermore, the Rigid Case exists in a market segment where such prices are normal and even on the low end. For instance, the Canadian brand Charles Simon also offers aerospace-grade materials and beautiful craftsmanship in its gorgeous products. When keeping this in mind, and I have found the Rigid Case useful, I have no reservations about recommending this watch case to someone who also would find this case useful. I cannot think of another case on the market that is as protective, stylish, ethically manufactured, sourced, and attractive as the Rigid Case by Temporal Goods.
What has me excited is seeing what Mr. Duff comes up with next. Granted, he will continue refining the Rigid Watch Case, but his mind, experience, and skillsets will make this space more interesting to keep an eye on. He had the similar look of glee that we discussed earlier that he showed before he hopped on top of the Rigid Case; he briefly mentioned other watch cases that would suit the needs of others as well.
Check out the Temporal Goods website here