The Azimuth King Casino is sure to divide opinion. More sculpture than timepiece, this roulette-inspired wristwatch is part tool, part toy. If you're not familiar with the brand, this model may shock you, but rest assured, Azimuth have previous experience in the bizarre. Where most brands might look to establish a solid set of design principles and stick to them, Azimuth takes an almost inverted approach: if it looks like nothing you've ever seen, it could well belong to this bold brand.
Given Azimuth's reputation for novelty, it is quite refreshing that the Azimuth King Casino is a blatant evolution of an earlier model, known as the SP-1 Roulette. The Azimuth King Casino has built on the traits of its older but smaller brother. The Azimuth SP-1 Roulette measures 35mm across and features a simple roulette game; the Azimuth King Casino is a whopping 45mm across and has built on the function of the roulette game to add a new element inspired by the card game of Baccarat.
Both watches in this exclusive fraternity have dice-shaped crowns, which are used to operate the game function of the watch. Interestingly, Azimuth have chosen to locate the large and protrusive winding buttons on the left hand side of the case instead of the right. This is presumably because the game is activated when the crown is depressed, an action that could be performed by accident were the crown in the standard position. Moving the crown seems like a logical and excusable decision when you consider how easily such a prominence could foul on the hand or clothing. It does, however, mean the right hand side of the watch – its "horizon," if you will – is a blunt wall of steel. A case of admittedly massive proportions falls away precipitously. Such a stark shape will surely split watch fans. It's brazen, for sure, but is it clunky?
Well, some may say so, but there are two design elements that give the Azimuth apologists a chance to fight back. The profile of the watch is anything but angular. The underside of the case is ergonomically sculpted to hug the wrist, giving the illusion of a much smaller timepiece. Had Azimuth chosen a flat back, the Azimuth King Casino would protrude over the edges of most wrists and be uncomfortable to wear. Ergonomically styling the underside of the watch was a smart move. It actually adds to the overall weirdness of the case dimensions, but it was a practically motivated decision and a smart one.
The second feature that softens this mighty chunk of metal is the impressively high-domed sapphire glass. From the side, this gives the Azimuth King Casino an enormous height and genuinely bizarre appearance. In profile, it looks like a Victorian mariner's tool - some kind of ancient device used for reading the night sky or predicting the end of the world. Again, the designers have been really clever in creating an optical illusion that reduces the visual impact of the piece. The contour of the sapphire runs into the contour of the lugs, which fall away from the case sharply, skimming the wrist and ensuring a snug fit. The watch features a high-grade leather strap that is attached to the 24mm lugs with screw bars.
Simply put, this watch looks like two different creations depending on whether you view it from the front or the side. I think this kind of inherent incongruity is actually acceptable because of the strength of Azimuth's vision. It is clear the designers started with the arresting complication, set it in the necessary surround, and then went to work figuring out how the heck they could get it to sit on a wrist, without it looking like an occasional table.
So what does this impressive piece of kit actually do? It's powered by a modified, self-winding ETA calibre. It displays the hours, minutes, and seconds, and features an extra hand that is integral to the roulette game function. The fourth hand is a black stalk with a white ball mounted at the tip. Depressing and releasing the die crown causes the fourth hand to spin around the dial, emulating the roll of the roulette ball around the table. The hand then comes to a stop at a random point, but always within a numbered "slot." The extra feature that this iteration boasts over the SP-1 Roulette is the additional chapter ring inscribed with the baccarat-inspired words Tie/Banker/Player/Banker/Pair/Player/Banker/Player, running from 12 in a clockwise direction, with the Player and the Banker sections slightly larger than the Tie and the Pair sectors. This facet of the "game" is supposed to help your decision making process while gambling your life away at the card table. With the help of this useful timekeeper, you can make all your major life decisions with the simple push of a button. Heavenly, isn't it?
If you should land the jackpot, however, it would not be advisable to celebrate by jumping into one of Las Vegas's many swimming pools, or dousing yourself in champagne: The Azimuth King Casino is only water resistant to 3 ATM. I wouldn't attempt to swim or do any physical activity with a watch of this size, weight, and shape, but it's worth noting that this is a statement piece for societal events, rather than a beater or crossover sports watch. It's a cool little quirk on your wrist.
The watch has a sapphire case back so you can see the beating heart of the watch fluttering away, as your own ticker tries to keep pace with the twists and turns of whatever high-stakes game of chance you're playing. I must say that the dial surround, featuring twelve polished hour markers in the shape of roulette balls, is really quite handsome. It's simple – a splash of simplicity amidst the chaos of a casino floor – and it works very well. The squareness of this case is surely meant to remind the wearer of a roulette table, but I can't help wishing this dial and complication were housed in a simpler, round case. The nuts and bolts of this watch are, in my opinion, extremely palatable, but I think Azimuth may have pushed the proportions of this watch too far. Then again, I am not planning on lighting up the felt any time soon. If you're into poker, roulette, baccarat, or blackjack, for example, this might be a cool bit of wrist candy to flash at the table.
The Azimuth King Casino comes in 3 variants; stainless steel, stainless steel and chocolate coloured PVD, and yellow gold plated. All three are priced at 3,650 Swiss francs, which is pretty reasonable for a customised movement and this kind of wrist-impact. In my opinion, if you're going to go for this watch, why not go the whole hog and get the brown variant? It looks like a miniature table and best portrays the intentions of Azimuth's daring design team. Maybe you could view it as an investment. With this kind of "divine guidance," as Azimuth put it, you'll surely win the purchase price back in no time. Just don't come crying to us if the house wins. azimuthwatch.com