***Brand Ambassador Introduction (by Tyler)
It’s with great pride that I make this announcement. Allow me to elaborate: I have three great passions in life: watchmaking, science and engineering; although it could be said that watchmaking is just a combination of the latter two. But it’s not just I that share these passions - we’re all advocates around here. There are frequent discussions about how we can do our part to give back to the fields from which we reap so very much. Not just for our own benefit, but for society as a whole.
According to research by Jonathan Haskel, Professor of Economics at the Imperial College London, up to 50% of Australia’s GDP is essentially Research and Development (R&D) based. And that’s just what we can quantify. The true extent of R&D’s contribution to our economy probably runs much deeper. It’s at 50% now, but you can bet that it’ll be at 99% in the near future as every field continues to benefit from cutting edge developments at an ever increasing rate. An incredible return when you consider that only 0.4% (in 2016) of our budget is spent on it; the return on investment yielded simply can’t be matched.
When including private sector contributions, Australia’s percent of GDP spent on R&D jumps from 0.4% to 2.1%, still well below Japan and South Korea at 4.3% and 3.5% respectively (is it any surprise that so much innovation comes from them?) but a sizeable increase nonetheless, showing just how important our contributions are.
So how does this tie in with today’s announcement? We’ve been on the lookout for a new brand ambassador for some time, but we’ve been after a very specific type of person; someone who’s at the top of their field and whose work is helping advance society as a whole.
We wanted to change the ambassador paradigm. We weren’t looking for someone that would bring us instant recognition. We didn’t want a famous name that we can flog at every opportunity to turn heads, nor did we want someone that would act as a constant advocate for us. On the contrary, we wanted an ambassador that we could contribute to and from whom we could learn from, and Nick was also hoping to continue supporting Sydney University as he’s done with Peter McMinn, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Sydney University, over the last two years. rebelde’s modest donation helped fund critical research in infectious diseases in Timor Leste with great success, an experience that really opened our eyes to the amount of good a small contribution can do.
With that said, our new rebelde ambassador is Michael Biercuk, Professor of Quantum Physics and Quantum Technology, and director of the Quantum Control Laboratory at the University of Sydney.
Professor Biercuk isn’t just incredibly intelligent and friendly, he’s also a real watch guy with a passion for horology and a collection of very nice pieces. As an added bonus, Josh and I are both Sydney University students, so we’re thrilled to have someone from our home team on board.
Nick, Josh and I had the opportunity to visit his lab last Wednesday (something I’ll talk about in more detail soon) and it was an eye opening experience. As many of you might know, Nick rarely dishes out superlatives; a vintage Patek Philippe might elicit a ‘nice’ or a ‘cool’, if you’re lucky, but he described the experience as ‘life changing’.
Some of the equipment in the Quantum Control Laboratory at the University of Sydney
If you’re not familiar with quantum physics, just know that almost every piece of technology you use - mobile phone, laptop, GPS system, WiFi network - works because of our understanding of quantum physics. But staggeringly, we’re barely off the starting line when it comes to our grasp of the field. The potential applications of Quantum Physics and Quantum Technologies are too vast to even begin to describe (though I’ll do my best to talk about some of these applications each week).
And as if that’s not exciting enough, here’s something you, as a watch enthusiast, can really appreciate: the field of Quantum Physics traces back to our research on the measurement of time, and it remains at the core of what Professor Biercuk and his team of researchers are doing today.
A photo of three atoms captured in the Quantum Control Laboratory at the University of Sydney
Yes, without ever having known it, the great watchmakers of the past few centuries have, in their endless toil to properly understand and measure time, all contributed to the field of Quantum Physics that has changed our understanding of the world as we know it.
The timing for this couldn’t be better; we’re on the cusp of producing our very first watch parts right here in Australia in the next few months.
We’ll be delivering Professor Biercuk his customised rebelde watch tomorrow. Nick assembled this bespoke piece as per Michael's selection of rebelde movement, dial, case and hands. The watch has no serial number because Nick wanted it to stand out so he decided to leave it unnumbered, as it is a one-off special piece. I can only tell you it is a titanium 44mm case.
We look forward to speaking in more depth about his work and I'm sure you'll find it fascinating; the parallels between our fields are great. As well, we'll continue to talk about how we can all do our part to support science and engineering as a whole.
It’s easy to get jaded when hearing of the new 100 million dollar machine that some laboratory has acquired, thinking that all is well and that a small contribution would be of little use. In fact, ten thousand dollars is enough to fund a single PhD student for an entire year. A thousand dollars might fund some critical field work for a few weeks. Our future success as a nation hinges on our continued support of these critical areas.
But your support needn’t only be financial; at a time when many choose to be wilfully ignorant of science and engineering, just giving our researchers our time and understanding can go a long way.
Watch this space, as we plan on auctioning the one and only rebelde50 numbered 50/50 piece, from which all proceeds will go to the University.