From time to time, it pays off to take a break from the big names in the wristwatch industry and cast your gaze instead towards the wonderful world of micro-brands. Today I have the pleasure of reviewing the phenomenal, limited-edition TW-7 from Tsikolia Watches (formerly known as UNIQ Watches), established in 2011 by renowned Georgian industrial designer Zviad Tsikolia. This micro-brand specializes in quartz-powered watches, and draws inspiration from iconic land, water, and air vehicles. Here’s a list of the basic specifications of this model:
- Reference number: TW-7
- Case material: 316 L Stainless Steel
- Case diameter: 46 mm
- Lug width: 22 mm
- Lug-to-lug length: 55 mm
- Thickness: 15 mm
- Movement: Ronda 5040.B
- Battery life: 54 months
- Water resistance: 5 ATM
The Tsikolia Seven is inspired by the legendary, UK-based Caterham 7 sports car. Every single detail of the packaging, case, and overall look of the dial and pushers can be traced back to the industrial design of the Caterham 7.
A cool postcard of the racing car is even included in the package. A really nice touch, in my opinion, and one that conveys the level of appreciation Tsikolia shows for its customers.
The first thing that I noticed about this piece is the whopping size of the case: 46 mm (without crown). I’m not really used to handling watches in this size range, but one thing is crystal clear: it is much easier to appreciate all the details that a big-sized watch comprises. It’s almost like zooming in on the watch in real life without the need for a magnifying glass, or a macro lens.
I really wish my wrists were larger so I could wear this watch without looking like a little kid. The case feels really sturdy, and one could even say, reassuringly heavy. The SEVEN logo is boldly displayed at 4 o’clock.
The pushers offer a nice, clicky feedback, and the crown looks like it could run you over on the street if given the chance. It reminds me of the wheel of a monster truck, and its ridged texture provides an excellent grip.
The caseback is successfully fashioned after the gas tank cap of the Caterham 7, and displays a little bit of information about the watch, including the limited-edition number.
The background of the dial is modeled after the dashboard of the Caterham 7, while the dial itself could easily pass for the speedometer. The mineral crystal of the watch directly mimics the logo shape of the Caterham 7, which makes for a very unique look as the circular dial is enclosed inside a curved triangle.
One could be tempted to dismiss the area outside of the hour markers as wasted space, but to be honest, I think it works. The sub-dials remain legible and are really easy to keep track of. The cherry on top (aside from the enlarged “7” numeral) is the big date at 12 o’clock, which peeks out from a double window. The skeletonized hands are unashamedly yellow and are filled with SuperLuminova at the tip. Speaking about luminosity, it is readily apparent that function trails behind form as not a lot of elements besides the hands are filled with SuperLuminova, but I guess this could be forgiven seeing as this is no diver’s watch. I just wish the applied lume was more evenly applied, as some weak, faint, tiny spots can be seen throughout the lume-filled arcs.
Finally, a nice cool detail can be found in the central seconds hand, which features the Tsikolia logo as the counterbalance.
The crystal is mineral based, which normally would not grant a lot of praise from me. However, due to the particular shape of the dial, this crystal achieves a fantastic amount of distortion when observed from certain angles, which is always a plus in my book.
Powered by the Swiss Ronda 5040.B movement, the chronograph complication is truly a joy to operate. A rather interesting quirk of quartz-powered chronographs not present in the vast majority of their mechanical counterparts is the cold, clinical, precise feel of the complication. Engaging the first pusher sends the bottom sub-dial into a frenzy, displaying the elapsed time to the nearest tenth of a second. The pusher at 4 o’clock is primarily used to reset the hands back to zero, which always is fun to watch, as all hands swiftly traverse the remainder of the dial to reach their original resting position. Additionally, the 4 o’clock pusher can be used to register several intermediate elapsed times, functionally similar to the rattrapante complication present in much more expensive mechanical chronographs. All in all, this is an awesome feature to have in a watch in this price range, and one that makes perfect sense to include here considering where the watch draws inspiration from.
The rally-style strap is made from rubber, and it’s great to see it matches the color scheme found in the dial. I must admit I’ve never been the biggest fan of rubber straps, though, and I think the watch could look better paired with a leather one. That being said, the same attention to detail found in the dial permeates onto the strap itself, as the holes on it match the shape of the crystal, which we’ve already established comes from the logo shape of the Caterham 7. Finding a rally leather strap that mimics this will be a real challenge.
Rated at 5 ATM, I would advise against doing anything riskier than washing your hands, and maybe going for the occasional, light swim. As with any other chronograph, you’d do well to avoid operating the pushers underwater, unless you wish to completely wreck your watch.
Tsikolia has successfully managed to distill the essence of the Caterham 7 into a very bold, masculine watch.
Its rather unique design may not appeal to every gentleman out there, but I, for one, commend Tsikolia for coming forward with such an interesting proposition, and hope that they continue churning out similar watches for years to come (don’t forget about us small-wristed folks!). Racing car enthusiasts should definitely stop by their website and take a look at the different variations of the Seven. There is even a ladies’ variant, which I’ll be hopefully reviewing soon. Stay tuned.
To have a look at all of Tsikolia’s offerings visit their official website here.