Staying on the topic of the Mr. Roboto R2 watch being popular, I have to say that I don’t think I am the only one who likes faces on their machines. Not only are other watch guys often happy to see dials that they feel are staring right back at them, but for years, people have enjoyed seeing faces in cars. How many times have artists or anyone with even the most basic creative mind thought that a car’s headlights look like eyes, and the grill like a mouth? Pretty sure Pixar has an entire collection of movies dedicated to the concept.
I’m not saying that we go so far as to anthropomorphize each and every watch we have (please don’t start giving your watches personalized names), but seeing the “familiarity” of a face on an otherwise non-living thing seems to endear us to them. Azimuth didn’t have to invent or incorporate this concept so much as they more so decided to import the concept of a robot toy to a watch face. I grew up with toys produced a few generations after those from the 1950s, but I do recall plenty of robots from my childhood. Does that experience make me appreciate the Mr. Roboto more?
In fact, I think the appeal of the Mr. Roboto extends beyond merely those people who have played with robots as a kid, and more so to people who enjoy the story and process of Azimuth being inspired by this universe of toys and building it into another type of toy. What Azimuth is really doing in the Mr. Roboto collection is making a very clear statement that mechanical watches are toys, and there is no point in wearing one if you aren’t having fun. I fully accept and endorse the notion that mechanical watches as used by most people today are toys. This is especially true for anything but the most basic timepiece. If you want your watch to have personality, and if you enjoy it for how it looks, there is a good chance that at the end of the day, you too consider your watches as toys. Nothing wrong with it, let’s just not call them “adult toys,” cause that refers to an entirely different type of product.
What is my favorite “toy” style element on the watch? Yes I love the face, but the “windup toy style” crown is the best personality trait this timepiece has got. This little element thematically links the universe of spring-powered watches with the nostalgic universe of spring-powered toys that Azimuth is really paying homage to in this timepiece collection.
One downside of the Mr. Roboto R2 is the sheer size of it. At 47.5mm wide, 55mm long, and about 19mm thick (at its thickest point), the R2 isn’t going to win any awards for miniaturization. With that said, the watch is comfortable. I don’t mind the size save for the fact that any big chunk of steel on your wrist is heavy. You can wear the R2 snug on the nice strap that comes with it. Doing so is important so that this top-heavy wearable doesn’t slide around on your wrist too much. If you are the type that wears your watch close to your hand, then watch out for the size of the crown which could poke you – though this wasn’t an issue for me.
You can’t deny that the style of the Mr. Roboto case is inspired by Richard Mille. In fact, the entire watch itself is arguably a direct homage to one of the more rare timepieces out there… which happens to be the extremely strange Richard Mille RM 053 (aBlogtoWatch hands on here). Azimuth more or less moved and modified the look of the eyes and added a mouth to the weird “polo-friendly” tourbillon that Richard Mille only produced 15 of. You’d have to be a serious watch nerd to even know about this connection, but I always like to identify the “top level” designs out there whose aesthetic styles trickle down into other distinctive watches.
You can’t fault Azimuth at the least given the simple fact that a watch like the Mr. Roboto R2 is meant to be a product that pays homage to multiple things at once – few of which they are trying to hide. For example, on the rear of the watch you can see the statement “Domo Arigato!” What does this mean? It refers to the well-known 1983 Mr. Roboto song by the group Styx. In the song, a hook lyric is “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto,” which is the brand’s way of commenting on the then extreme popularity of Japanese culture. In the 1950s, many of the “Golden Robot” toys that the Azimuth Mr. Roboto watch was inspired by were also produced in Japan.
Also on the rear of the watch is a view of the movement – and where you can see the other major modification to the base Swiss ETA movement done by Azimuth. It is a simple upgrade, but an appreciated one. In place of your standard automatic rotor is a “mystery” rotor. The rotor is a sapphire disc with an outer weight in brass. It actually looks pretty cool even though I am not sure how it fits into the overall robot toy theme.
Attached to the case (which is water resistant to 30m) is a custom-fitted and tapering perforated black leather strap. Little touches like the double set of stitching in red and white keep the entire watch looking interesting. The strap closes via a simple butterfly-style deployant clasp. The clasp has some perlage polishing on it, which I always like since I have a soft spot for this type of metal decoration.
If you like the look of the Azimuth Mr. Roboto R2, I can assure you that the quality and style is worth the price. If you don’t like this watch, that’s totally fine since it is a niche product for a particular type of watch collector. As someone who isn’t afraid to admit he is an adult who still loves playing with toys, I just happen to be rather close to the target demographic. Price for the uncommon and cool Azimuth Mr. Roboto R2 watch is 6,000 CHF. azimuthwatch.com
>Model: Mr. Roboto R2
>Price: 6,000 CHF
>Size: 47.5mm wide, by 55mm long
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Lover of toys, and robots, who wants to share their love of toys and robots with the world around them.
>Best characteristic of watch: Good update to the original Mr. Roboto making it more legible and attractive. Fun concept that is engineered well and affordable at the same time. Looking at that roboto face puts a smile on mine each and every time I see it.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Case is large and heavy – arguably more so than it strictly needs to be. A niche product if there ever was one – but certainly not in a bad way. It just means a product like this will have friends as well as enemies. Perhaps a few too many homages to other watches, even if they don’t take away from the robot toy inspiration that the R2 excels at.