February 28, 2011
by Ariel Adams
“Wow, this packaging is really neat!” Is what I thought to myself opening up the Black Belt Spirit watch from… Black Belt watches – the brain-child of Yvan Arpa. The thick little box was filled with protective cloth that looks to be cut-up and re-purposed karate gi (karate outfit). There was a nice branded USB drive with the instructions and warranty info, and of course “the agreement.” Overall the presentation was much better than you’d find in most sub $300 watches.
What is “the agreement?” I will get to that in a second. If you recall, the original Black Belt Watch was (is) made available only to people who actually have Black Belts in some form of martial art. Yea, in order to merely buy one, you need to send Black Belt watch your Black Belt certificate. Sort of a badge of honor you can buy after all the time and effort went in first learning how to kick people’s asses, and then learning not to use your skills. The Black Belt watch was a higher-end mechanical watch, and this here Black Belt Spirit watch is more affordable and pretty universally accessible.
The idea behind the Black Belt Spirit watch was to embody the concept and virtues the original Black Belt Watch was meant to represent. The watch comes with an agreement in the box that states you will agree to abide by and respect the Bushido values of “rectitude, courage, respect, honor, and loyalty.” There are actually 7 Bushido virtues in the code of conduct, but that is another story – I don’t think that “frugality” would fly in the watch world. The agreement is a gimmick, but a fun one, and the worlds are printed on the caseback of the watch to help remind you. I was amused by the faux-Asiatic font that is actually English.
Around the bezel are Japanese Kanji character numeral that represent the hours. The bezel also rotates like a diver’s bezel. The dial is pretty intricate for an inexpensive watch. It has a tiled square pattern that is matched by the black silicone strap, and pleasant hour indicators with applied dark luminant. The lower subdial has the “Black Belt” logo that helps remind you to tie your belt each time you look at the watch. I like the sloped flange ring that has the hour markers on it.
The case itself is 42mm wide in steel with black PVD coating. It is really ergonomic feeling on the wrist, but the dial is hard to see in some angles because it is black on black. I am not sure what the crystal is, but presume it is mineral given the price range.
Inside the watch is a (fitting that it be Asian) Japanese quartz chronograph movement with a 60 minute chronograph, synchronized 24 hour hand, and the date. Again, the strap is really cool. I love the texture of the silicone, and it is really comfy. Compared to other Yvan Arpa timepieces, this is much more simple, and smaller than his standard 45mm or larger cases. It is also much less expensive. He wanted something affordable, so the Black Belt Spirit watch only costs 278.80 Swiss Francs (about that in US dollars), and can be purchased online. As a neat watch with some fun talking points, the Black Belt Spirit watch certainly has enough things going for it.