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March 23, 2008

{     Steel Cake     }    


Steel Cake is the brainchild of Matthew Burnett, a designer dedicated to bringing street-level innovation to watchmaking while eschewing the bling-bling bravado of the prevailing urban aesthetic. His pieces are smooth, solid and functional, with an emphasis on shapes, materials and forms that both overtly and subtly challenge industry standards.

The Steel Tag series (seen above) is a stellar example of this, combining the familiar image of the dog-tag with a fully functional chronometer. The result is a casual and cool approach to timekeeping- cast in polished steel, it looks great without falling prey to diamond-encrusted pretension. The piece has significant heft and hangs solidly around the neck, a unique but unassuming accessory. The Steel Cake logo is frosted across the surface, and the Tag has an almost industrial utilitarian feel to it, in keeping with the military origin of the dog tag. With that origin in mind, I'm wondering if maybe this isn't also a bit of a sly commentary on fleeting mortality, on the tendency of modern man to clock-watch every minute of one's perpetually diminishing time on earth. The Steel Tag serves as the perfect reminder of the still-beating heart that rests beneath the chest it adorns, it's the signature timepiece for the kind of person who couldn't give a fuck what time it is.


In order to get a broader perspective on the Steel Cake philosophy, here's some words directly from the source:

"My grandfather, Fred Hardaway, was one of the first black horologists in the US, so I've always had an affinity for watches. Shortly after my graduation from Pratt Institute, where I majored in industrial design, I came up with the concept of the company, Steel Cake. It is not only a representation of my creative vision but also very much a homage to my late grandfather. Design is my passion, so when I create I am trying to make a statement that is discernible from the everyday accessory."

"My generation wants to be able to express itself from head to toe, and for sometime, we have done so using teeshirts, jeans, and sneakers. But, what about timepieces? The watch industry has always been dominated by a much older generation. Since there wasn't a prominent voice in the watch industry for my generation, many young people turned to cell phones to tell time. My dream is to be the creative voice for young people in the watch industry and as one of the only young watch company owners/ designers it is my mission to bring a fresh image to watches. Steel Cake, as a brand, is a statement of quality combined with fashion forward flavor."

Scoping out what Burnett's got in store with his premiere crop of timepieces, I'd say he's got his niche firmly nailed. His insistence upon unadorned presentation will keep him floating well above the flavor-of-the-week crop, and with the variety of faces, styles and builds there's something here for every taste.



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