Modern life in a free market is both a blessing and a curse. Endless entertainment options and lifestyle choices overwhelm the senses, inducing paralysis by analysis in all but the strongest (or perhaps, the most collected) psyches. It would seem the only way to avoid falling down the rabbit hole is to have a clear vision of one’s desires. Well, almost a month ago I got presented with this exact conundrum, and thankfully, with a little help from my wife, I didn’t have to spend more than twenty minutes to craft the perfect chronograph. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk a little about Undone.
Undone Watches is a young company that genuinely prioritizes customizability and self-expression. Seriously, go take a look at their website and see how many “Customize now” buttons you can count on any given page. To be clear, Undone’s emphasis on individuality and story-telling is one of their greatest strengths. Their catalog has grown considerably in the past couple of years, and today I’m taking a closer look at one of their most iconic watches: the Vintage Killy. A distinct 1930s aesthetic permeates this chronograph, but there is a modern twist that will surely attract new timers to the watch community.
Disclaimer: I was gifted my own Vintage Killy by Undone themselves, and was (of course) enthusiastically encouraged to customize it to my heart’s content. Dear reader, you will notice nonetheless that I will remain as impartial as ever. Let’s go.
Vintage Killy Specs:
- Case diameter: 40mm
- Case material: 316L Stainless Steel
- Lug to lug: 47.5mm
- Thickness: 13mm
- Lug width: 20mm
- Crystal: K1 Glass
- Movement: Seiko Mecha-quartz
- Water resistance: 30 meters
First things first, because I wish to get this off my chest as soon as possible: 40mm (with no bezel) is just too big for my puny wrists. I desperately wish the case was 37mm, tops. I know 40mm is probably the goldilocks size for 90% of the population out there, and sure, this is a modern interpretation of a vintage chronograph, but watch sizes are gradually shrinking to the more palatable sizes of the mid twentieth century, and to be able to customize almost every single detail of the watch except for the diameter of the case is maddening. There is a smaller Urban 34 Killy (For Her) available. However, it is not customizable. I’m sure Undone has very good reasons for keeping the Vintage Killy at 40mm, but I’ll touch on that later. Thinking it would probably look a tad more stylish on my wife’s wrist, I opted for a rose gold case, since I strongly associate that color palette with her.
Leaving size aside for a moment, the design of the case is marvelously executed. Even without a fully mechanical movement ticking inside, the case feels hefty and substantial, and the beveled edges below the dial add an exquisite feeling of tri-dimensionality and charm. Curiously enough, I feel the beveled edges also create the illusion of keeping the thickness in check, as they seem to draw the eye all the way up to the dial. The lugs are tastefully proportioned and hug the wrist nicely.
Let’s focus on the pushers next. This is a chronograph, after all, and since the user won’t be required to operate the crown, nor is a bezel to be found anywhere, the pushers will most likely bear the brunt of anxiety-induced fidgeting. I’m happy to report they’re quite sturdy and answer back with a satisfying click when pressed. Fun fact: the pusher at 2 o’clock offers the greatest resistance when pressed for the first time, offering a high-pitched click in return. Stopping the chronograph with a second press makes a lower-pitched click and provides less resistance. In fact, all subsequent clicks sound just like the second one until the 4 o’clock pusher is pressed to reset the chronograph. I struggle to understand why I’m including this obscure detail in the review, but hey, if you’re reading this in the first place, you know you care at least a little bit.
I opted for a clear caseback to have a glance at the intriguing mecha-quartz movement ticking inside. It isn’t as visually interesting as a purely mechanical movement, but at the same time, I think it looks neat and clean. At the very least, it is a conversation starter, for sure.
I have a suspicion this is why the Vintage Killy is 40mm. If it was any smaller, the telemetre scale would look really cramped. Be that as it may, it is clear that the dial is heavily influenced by chronographs of the 1930s, when Art Deco was all the rage. The beautiful off-white color of the dial contrasts beautifully with the red and blue hues of the telemetre scale. A true white would achieve even more contrast, but it wouldn’t look as, well, cozy, as this one does. The typeface chosen for the numerals is lovely and really channels the magnificence of the pre-war era. I’ve caught myself spending literal minutes transfixed, intently staring at my personal favorites (9, 2, and of course, 4).
I chose rose gold for the hands to match the color of the case. There are three hand styles to choose from, and I went with the leaf shape to better match the typeface of the numerals.
Now, let’s talk about the telemetre scale. Literally a “measure of distance”, this scale is mightily useful to gauge the distance between the user and a visible and audible phenomenon, such as an explosion, fireworks, lightning, or similar events where sound reaches the observer much later than the emitted light. Simply push the 2 o’clock pusher when you first see the light, then stop it when the sound finally arrives. The seconds hand will tell the approximate distance (in km) to the occurrence on the red scale. For its part, the more conventional blue tachymeter scale wonderfully balances the color temperature of the dial.
Regarding the customizability of the Vintage Killy, there are 4 choices for case color, 4 different dials, 3 hand styles (2 for the seconds hand), 9 different colors for the hands (again, the seconds hand can be customized separately), and an optional display caseback. For all my fellow math geeks keeping track at home, we are talking about 15,000+ combinations possible, and that’s not even counting the strap options, which I’ll talk about later. An optional dial print is offered, as is a caseback engraving.
Ticking away inside this beautiful case is an extremely interesting Seiko mecha-quartz caliber. Powered by a battery, normal time keeping is displayed on the 6 o’clock subdial at a rate of 1 beat per second. However, the chronograph function is mechanical and is engaged by pressing the pusher at 2 o’clock. This intriguing movement features the obvious advantage of quartz movements (accuracy), while retaining the mechanical feel that most of us have come to love through the years. My particular timepiece has gained about 2 seconds after a month of use, which is a world of difference from a mechanical movement. Of course, not everything is about accuracy, but then again, it is nice to have your wristwatch match the actual time on your smartphone even after months of continuous use.
Undone offers a plethora of straps to complement your case of choice. I went for a brown alligator brown, which matches the rose gold case extremely well. Even better, it elevates the watch from an everyday chronograph to a somewhat formal timepiece. The strap is of the utmost quality, and the only negative I could point out is that, due to its taper, the buckle can’t go through the strap all the way to the last hole. A minor problem easily solved by slightly twisting the strap and forcing it to go through the buckle, but still, something to consider. A possible solution would entail enlarging the buckle just a tiny bit.
Undone has an interesting proposition in its hands. Having the choice of customizing a beautiful watch to the most minute detail is something that most watch enthusiasts would certainly be interested in, and to think that’s possible for $265 is quite an attractive offer. Even better, today Undone has shared a 15% discount code for our readers. Simply input “WatchReviewBlog15” at check-out on the Official Undone website here and enjoy a terrific timepiece that will surely mirror your individual taste.