Not all of the best watches come from established watchmakers. Some come from companies who are just cutting their teeth in the business, and every once in a while I like to sample one of these microbrands.
KNOPF Watches is a brand new company, founded in Manhattan by Gage and Larry Knopf. The father and son team is descended from Polish-American land speculator and bootlegger Solomon Knopf. But the real story begins in 2019, with the founding of the KNOPF watch brand. Since then, Gage and Larry have been hard at work perfecting their very first design: the NY-405.
The NY-405 is available in black, blue, or gold, and can be ordered with a steel or leather strap. For the purposes of this review, I’m wearing the black steel version. Other than the colors and the strap material, all the other versions are identical.
So, is this watch a worthy first effort for a new watchmaker? Or is the KNOPF brand just a flash in the pan? Here are my impressions on the NY-405.
A No-Nonsense Design
The KNOPF NY-405 Black Steel is as tough as they come. It’s constructed from 316L stainless steel, which is one of the most corrosion-resistant steels available. It has a medium wrist presence, with a diameter of 41mm and a lug width of 21mm. At 11.5mm thick, it’s on the slim side, and won’t feel too bulky on most people’s wrists.
The crystal is also durable. The sapphire material itself is inherently scratch-resistant, and it’s coated with an anti-reflective finish to prevent glare. It’s entirely flat, which serves to minimize the watch’s thickness, but also won’t distort the dial, even when viewed from an extreme angle.
A similar flat crystal on the back of the case provides a clear view of the movement. You’ll also notice a gold KNOPF logo, which looks like a pair of mountains with inverted mountains above them pointing down. A flat ring around the display back shows various statistics, including the power reserve and water-resistance rating.
Speaking of water-resistance, the NY-405 is rated for 50 meters. In practice, this means you can wear it in the shower or take it swimming. Anything beyond that is liable to cause damage and not worth the risk. The screw-down crown helps you to avoid leaving the case unsealed by accident.
On the front of the case, you’ll notice a short, flat bezel. This bezel is only 0.25mm thick, which puts it exactly flush with the crystal. Embedded in the bezel are a set of four black enamel inlays. These are marked like an index, with white Arabic numerals at the five-minute positions. At the hour, half-hour, 15-minute, and 45-minute positions, you’ll see Roman numerals instead. The numbers are all divided by white bars, which contribute to the retro appeal.
The tri-link bracelet is flexible and feels very secure. The outer links have a brushed finish that matches the finish on the case. The center row of links is made from polished steel, which creates an attractive contrast. Meanwhile, the double-locking fold-over clasp is easy to open and close.
KNOPF backs the NY-405 with three forms of protection. To begin with, there’s a 60-day no-questions-asked return window. There’s also a 12-month replacement warranty. And if that’s not enough, you get a 5-year repair warranty in the event of any mechanical defects.
An Art Deco-Inspired Dial
One of the first things I noticed about this watch was the unique dial. There are no minute markings, hour markings, or indices of any kind. Instead, the bezel is your index. Despite this unusual design, it’s surprisingly readable.
The bulk of the dial is brushed/lacquered black, but there’s a large silver-white diamond occupying much of the center. Other embellishments are arranged to the sides. There are KNOPF logos to the right and left, with triangles at 11 and 1 o’clock. It’s all very art deco, and has some serious retro appeal.
The words “KNOPF NY-405” are printed in black near the top of the large diamond, with a black logo above. The words “Swiss Made” are printed at the bottom of the dial, beneath an inverted arch and series of bars that looks like part of a sextant. In the middle of this sextant is a small, silver-rimmed date window with black Arabic numerals on a white background.
The hour and minute hands are shaped like lopsided diamonds, with short back ends and extended forward portions and white rectangular stripes. The second hand, meanwhile, is long and narrow with a white, arrow-shaped tip. The hands, bezel, and dial embellishments are all painted with Super LumiNova, which looks amazing at night.
The NY-405 runs on an STP1-11 movement, which is a clone of the ETA 2824-2. Regular readers of my blog will know that the 2824-2 is one of the most popular automatic watch movements on the market. It’s Swiss-made, with 26 jewels and a 44-hour power reserve, and it’s accurate to between -3 seconds and +7 seconds a day.
For more information you can visit the official KNOPF Watches website here.
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