In the last few years, we have seen an advent of microbrands and start-ups producing modestly-priced watches. Typically launched on sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter, these brands have leveraged on technology and the availability of parts or manufacturers to help them produce a watch from scratch.
The results were mixed. There were some brands that have made it big, but the rest of the majority produced pretty average pieces that are not too dissimilar from the rest. We would have thought that having these resources would have helped the brand to exercise more creativity and allowed them to be bold in their offerings, but it seems like many of such young fledglings have decided to play it safe.
Review: Timeless HMS
The retail price of the Timeless HMS is CHF 1,450 (approximately S$2,135).
And then we have Timeless. Timeless is the brainchild of Mael Oberkampf, a freelance graphic designer who designs watches, cars and yachts. Inspired by the early 20th century industrial design, Mael hopes to incorporate these bold neo-vintage elements into his watches – and keeping them accessible at the same time. These had led to the birth of Timeless’ first watch: The HMS (Hours, Minutes, and Seconds).
Early impressions of the watch are certainly promising. It features quite a bit of interesting touches such as the use of pink gold on certain components, different types of case finishing, as well as a rather good-looking guilloché dial. Even the calf strap looks pretty supple and luxurious too. Thankfully, we have had the opportunity to try it out for a few weeks, and this begs the question: Is this yet another typical microbrand, or is there something more to this new upstarter?
The Case, Dial, and Hands
The Timeless HMS is cased in stainless steel, with a rather nice size at 41.5mm. It is attached to a pair of screwed-in lugs, which are rather unusual in design. However, it works rather well for this piece, and its characteristics mean that it wears rather comfortably on our wrist.
Notably, there has been quite a fair bit of treatment given to the case. The main case is given a circular satin finish, with the bezel given a contrasting sand-blasted finish. There are also elements of gold on the lugs and crown, which provides an interesting juxtaposition to the watch. On the left side of the case, there is also a special raised plaque with the serial number of the watch engraved on it.
Moving on, we perhaps come to the most interesting component of the watch. The dial, undoubtedly, is the highlight of this watch. The centre dial is finished with guilloché pattern, and it is coupled with a decorative gold hour wheel which also acts as a motif of the brand. The pink gold theme continues with the hands, which are interesting a cross between the Alpha and Breguet-style hands.
In contrast, the outer ring – for the HMS – is finished in matte white (or anthracite. It also houses the the hour indices and the minute track, in which the former is done with a modern-looking font. To top it all up, the watch is also built with a date complication, with its aperture situated at the 6 o’clock position.
The overall design of the watch is intriguing, to say the least. It is a cross between the modern and classic, which Timeless had aptly termed it as “neo-vintage”. It leans towards the “smart-casual” side of watch, which we reckon will work well especially at this price point. The attention to detail on both the case and dial is rather amazing as well, and it certainly helps to build the image and credibility of this brand at this point in time.
Powering the watch is the Swiss STP-1-11 movement, which is based off the ubiquitous ETA-2824. The self-winding movement has a power reserve of 44 hours, and it beats at 28,800 vph.
It is a workhorse movement, which has been proven to be reliable considering that its underpinnings were from a tried-and-tested calibre. As for the finishing, we are not privy as the caseback is solid – however, we certainly do not expect any haute horlogerie level of treatment provided. After all, the main focus lies on the design of the watch, and we will say that most of the features on the case and dial certainly make up for this.
The Timeless HMS is priced at CHF 1,450 (approximately S$2,135). It is available in two variants – white on grey (Reference HMS 001, as pictured), or grey-on-grey (Reference 002). The main difference lies on the outer ring of the dial, which is available in either matte white or stain-brushed anthracite. Both options are interesting, but the black-on-black may be a tad more interesting for us considering the sort of contrasts that it will have when it is paired with the pink gold hour and minute hands.
Having said that, there are notably several other promising young brands that offer watches with great value, such as Timeless. But what are some of the watches that this company will stand against?
The first piece on the list is the Travailler et Jouer Matin Blue Moon Enamel. For the uninitiated, this is a young brand that is based in Singapore, and what is even more impressive is its capabilities to produce enamel dial in-house. The 39mm timepiece is certainly a looker, especially with its stunning midnight blue enamel dial. The Matin Blue Moon Enamel is certainly on the dressier side, and it offers great value with a compelling price point of US$2,000 (approximately S$2,647) for a proper enamel dial.
Next, we have the Staudt Praeludium, The brand is the brainchild of Yvo Staudt, whose inspiration behind that company is definitely worth a read. The 42.5mm Praeludium is a hand-wound watch, with most of the components designed by Yvo himself. In fact, the Unitas movement was also modified to Yvo’s specification – which makes it a rather special watch indeed. The watch is priced at €2,349 (approximately S$3,785) – and we really do think that it offers tremendous value especially for something that is of this quality and calibre.
Lastly, we have the Ophion OPH 786. The watch, which is 39mm in size, is a tad different from the rest. The OPH 786 features many interesting and nice touches, such as the CNC guilloché dial and the stunning grenaille hand hammered bridges on the Technotime movement. The OPH 786 was priced at €2,190 (approximately S$3,529) previously, but it has since been discontinued. The new OPH 786 Vélos is a more refined version of the original, but it comes at a premium (€2,950, or approximately S$4,753). Overall, this is a very nice timepiece, and it is certainly giving a lot of its competitors a strong run for their money.
Being a new kid on the block, Timeless had displayed a valiant effort in the creation of the HMS. No doubt it is priced slightly higher than most microbrands, but it must be also said that the watch is surely a notch (or two) higher than the typical “Kickstarter” kind of watch. In fact, it would be highly unfair to put them in the same league. The HMS has already proven to be much more than that.
Of course, we will be expecting more from the brand for the next series of watches. As we have seen from its competitors, there has been a lot of emphasis placed on the movements, and we do hope that Timeless might want to attempt some form of finesse in the finishing to make the watch stand out a little more. Taking a leaf out of Staudt or even Ophion will certainly elevate the movement and bring out the entire character of the timepiece. We will be keeping our eyes peeled on that, for sure.
In conclusion, we do say that Timeless has shown quite a fair bit of potential with this piece. The attention to detail is admirable, and it works rather well for something that is of this price point. But at the end of the day, it is also still competing against the likes of entry-level brands such as Tissot and Hamilton at this price point, and Timeless must make sure that consumers should be able to see beyond brand equity and look towards the philosophy behind the creations. And for that, we do feel that there is still some work left to be done by this promising new budding watch brand.