February 29, 2016
by Zen Love
These new one-handed watches from Botta-Design introduce titanium versions of a couple of the brand’s nifty, über-German creations. The Botta-Design NOVA Titan is decidedly modernist in its simplicity, while the Botta-Design UNO Titan is more classic; both are very minimalist, and both indicate the time only with an hour hand. If you have any kind of inclination towards this concept and aesthetic, then read on, because these pieces represent Botta products well, which are well-priced and include many variations and options.
Though perhaps not as well-known as also-German Meistersinger, Botta is one of a few brands out there specializing (though not exclusively) in single-handed watches. The one-handed watch concept is interesting, and we have covered many such watches here on aBlogtoWatch. Typically, one-handed watches use only an hour hand that is the length of a normal minute hand, reaching all the way to the edge of the dial to indicate the time down to an accuracy of about five minutes. What looks like a minute track between the hour markers are actually five-minute indices. Just look closely at any such design, and you’ll quickly see that it works and how it works.
The concept behind this alternative way of telling the time is actually multifaceted and gets a bit philosophical. In one sense, it is about minimalism and simplified, elegant design. More abstractly, there is an idea that this manner of displaying the time will affect your perception of it, supposedly slowing you down and implying that knowing the exact minute is not so important. It’s a nice notion, and its intuitiveness is apparently evidenced by our tendency to round off the time when expressing it verbally. Lastly, there is an argument that without the mental calculation required by two separate hands, a single hand is actually more efficient – a cleaner reading of the time, if you will. For all of these merits, yes, you must sacrifice some precision.
Let’s begin with the Botta-Design UNO Titan (“Titan” as in titanium) watch because it is a little easier to process than the NOVA. Here is a classic one-handed watch that allows you to read the time with an accuracy of five minutes. With only the hour hand and no other indications, not even the date, it is a very clean, German design. An interesting choice here was to use only the model name “UNO” on the dial without even the brand name or logo.
The Botta-Design UNO Titan comes in a 40mm-wide titanium case (also available in a cool All Black titanium case matched with a black dial) that weighs only 32g on the wrist. This is a smaller and lighter version of the Botta-Design Uno+ that is 44mm wide in steel and includes a date window. Botta claims a “visible thickness” of 2.9mm on the Botta-Design UNO Titan, but that likely refers to the visible edge of the watch that slopes up from the slightly thicker center of the caseback. In any case, the Botta-Design UNO Titan is thin and light, and should be barely noticeable on the wrist until you want to reference the time.
The Botta-Design NOVA Titan, on the other hand, greets one with a solid white expanse from under which a little green tip protrudes to point out the time. From there, it stays very minimalist, as there are only 12 hour markers, with no subdivisions between them to orient you to more than a very general sense of the current time. “Spans of Time, Not Points in Time,” says Botta. Admittedly, it’s an attractive concept when put like that, but it is probably also a challenging one for anyone who is just looking for a watch rather than a philosophy. Then again, Botta-Design is likely not seeking to lure buyers wanting a two-handed watch that simply gets the job done.
It could be argued, however, that abstract designs such as this that offer only vague indications of the time (we also see watches from time to time without any hour or minute markers, for instance) are more relevant today than ever, since we do not strictly rely on our wristwatch for the time. It is very easy to imagine using a single-handed watch such as this to know the general time, but then referencing one’s cellphone, computer, or any other device we tend to rely on anyway to know the exact time. Next, maybe, a one-handed watch without even hour markers to really drive the point home?
The Botta-Design NOVA Titan, at 40mm wide and a weight of just 32g, again, is the smaller, lighter version of the Botta-Design NOVA+ 44mm steel watch. The thickness here is little more than the UNO, at 4.9mm. Both the Botta-Design NOVA Titan and Botta-Design UNO Titan are water resistant to 30m, use dual-domed sapphire crystal with antireflective coating, and run on a Swiss-made RONDA 1062 quartz movement. In both watches, the sides of the caseback have a cool, angular slope toward the top of the case, a design feature represented across Botta products. This minimizes restriction on wrist movement as well as helping air flow, according to Botta. Of note, all of Botta’s watches are designed for the strap to attach directly under the case, rather than attaching to protruding lugs. This lugless design often aids in comfort, and always in making a watch more wearable for more wrist sizes.
The NOVA and UNO designs represent Botta’s core brand identity, with several collections of each offering different case sizes, materials, dial colors, strap options, as well as both quartz and mechanical versions. We covered the Botta-Design UNO 24 Neo here that displays the time in a 24-hour format with only an hour hand, for example. Currently, the quartz-powered Botta-Design UNO Titan and Botta-Design NOVA Titan are the only titanium models in the brand’s lineup. That means that the automatic mechanical versions are not yet available in this case material.
Both new Titan models have black and white dial versions, and both have the option of straps in either vegetable-tanned leather or rubber. I feel the rubber works well for the modernist feel of the NOVA, whereas the leather matches the classic look of the UNO. The Botta-Design NOVA Titan also has a white strap option. Depending on the configuration you choose, the Botta-Design UNO Titan is priced from €448 and the Botta-Design NOVA Titan is priced from €498, both available direct from the brand’s website. botta-design.de