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In just seven short years, ZTAGE has helped write the newest chapter of watchmaking in Asia, releasing eye-catching timepieces on a regular basis. And while the brand may appear to have materialized out of thin air (to Western collectors, at least), founding partners Franco and Cyrus Wong spent the better part of two decades cutting their teeth in the East Asian watch industry, developing skills while working in sales, management, and IT for brands like Zenith, Bulgari, and Chopard. Taking from this experience an informed vision of what constitutes a successful brand, the two have played an important role in the extra-European watchmaking story of the past decade.

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The brand’s latest release, the Hybrid Original Sable, is a spiritual successor to last year’s Earth Hour Worldtimer. Updated for 2023 with a blackened case, a forged carbon bezel, and a higher-contrast dial, the Sable is otherwise identical to the Earth Hour. Like its kin, the Sable is limited to 200 pieces worldwide yet mercifully remains priced at CHF 3,400, despite the material upgrades (not to mention the inflation of the intervening year). These aspects hold comparable watches’ feet to the fire, as the Sable represents complex Swiss watchmaking at a price more comparable to entry-level heritage three-handers.

Like all ZTAGE watches, the Sable is designed by the brand in Hong Kong and — in a quasi-reversal of expectations — assembled in Switzerland before being shipped back to brand HQ for rigorous 240-hour testing and inspection. This bi-continental pedigree is fitting for a worldtimer and a refreshingly open acknowledgement of a watch’s lineage — something that other brands could learn from.

True to its name, the Sable is a stormy affair, dominated by dark hues and contrasting textures. Most noticeably, the carbon forged bezel lends a rugged yet luxurious dimensionality that’s often only found on watches costing several times more than the piece at hand. Similarly, the darkened case ensures there’s very little polarity in the watch’s aesthetics. Here, the Hybrid Original showcases one of its most unique features: the way in which the lugs affix externally to the case like an outer shroud. Compared to the Earth Hour’s polished components, the Sable’s lug structures are DLC-treated stainless steel. Continuing the theme, the black integrated strap (made of FKM rubber) is textured and forms seamlessly with the overall constitution of the watch. Notably, the latching mechanism is refined in its construction, and one that is thoughtfully designed to reduce long-term wear on the strap.

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One standout aspect of the Sable is surely its updated dial format. Maintaining the high luminosity of its forebear, the addition of taupe coloration does wonders for legibility under normal lighting conditions. With concentric and intersecting lines that aid in time-telling, it’s a decidedly busy dial. However, any readability issues are offset by the Sable’s color differentiation. Another welcome aspect of the Sable’s dial is the muted branding, with the ZTAGE logo occupying just a small portion of the real estate at the 12 o’clock position. Like the Earth Hour, the Sable’s dial offers timekeeping in 24 timezones via the fixed city rehaut and the rotating 24-hour scale, while partially skeletonized hands ensure that not too much of the dial is obscured at any given time.

This motion is powered by the Cal.1100 movement (a modified Soprod C125). With the date feature attractively positioned at 6 o’clock, the worldtiming caliber affords a reliable approach to timekeeping. As expected, a healthy dose of blue Super-LumiNova is apportioned to the tips of the hands and the hour markers. Green lume lights up the top-down view of the globe on the dial below as well as the bead embedded in the crown, a burgeoning trademark of ZTAGE watches. Other key features include a sapphire crystal with multiple layers of anti-reflective coating and 50m of water-resistance for peace of mind when you’re in proximity to water.

Like other ZTAGE pieces, the Hybrid Original Sable is limited, with just fifty pieces available for pre-order at CHF 3,400 on the brand’s website from December 20 to December 22. After the pre-order period, the price increases to CHF 3,800 for the remaining 150 pieces, after which time no more will be available. Learn more at the brand’s website.

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