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Founded by seasoned collector Edward Cho, who credits his grandmother’s “You have to feed it to make it come alive” wisdom for his obsession with mechanical watches, Fleux is a new watch brand that makes its debut with a pair of vintage-inspired skin diver watches. Meet the FLX001 and FLX002, which are the stars of Fleux’s current Kickstarter campaign, and here to remind us why vintage diving watches are so darn charming.

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While mid-century dive watches were created to be utilitarian, practical, and robust, these days, fans of the genre gravitate towards them more so because of their handsome aesthetics and nostalgic appeal.

Crafted with precision and attention to detail, the FLX001 and FLX002 echo the classic case shape popular in the 1970s while also benefiting from modern updates. For instance, the downward-curving shape of the lugs is borrowed from the archetypical old-school skin diver to ensure that perfect wrist-hugging fit but thinned down with polished chamfers for a contemporary touch. The friction coin-edge bezels house glossy black aluminum bezel inserts. They rotate firmly, and unlike old watches, they’re as smooth as butter.

For the crystals, Fleux chose to go the retro route yet again by opting for Hesalite rather than modern sapphire crystal. Although sapphire crystal is scratch-resistant, it doesn’t offer the same warmth and beauty that Hesalite does — particularly in double-domed form. Whether you appreciate the wabi-sabi nature of scratches on Hesalite or prefer to polish them away when necessary, a vintage-designed timepiece wouldn’t be complete without this oldie-but-goodie crystal material.

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Further leaning into the nostalgic mood are the dial designs, which include a matte black background, gilt-like text and chapter ring, and beige Super-LumiNova C3 “Old Radium” lume for that aged look. The thick hour and minute hands at the center of these time-only dials not only provide superb legibility but their orange outlines also add a welcomed dash of color to the otherwise muted face.

The brushed-finished cases of both FLX001 and FLX002 Fleux watches are fashioned from 316L stainless steel and measure 38mm in diameter and 47mm lug to lug. The case is 14mm-thick including the crystal and 12mm without. However, thanks to the shape of the lugs that extend below the caseback, the watches wear thinner than their on-paper measurements may suggest.

Fitted with a closed caseback and screw-down winding crown, the watches are water-resistant to 200 meters or 660 feet. All Fleux watches are paired with recycled ocean plastic material SEQUAL straps with a soft water-resistant Nubuck lining for comfort. There are also quick-release spring bars, which come in handy when you want to swap out the straps.

Although the FLX001 and FLX002 share the same design qualities outlined so far, they each offer their own take on the vintage skin diving watch.

The FLX001 borrows the countdown dive bezel style from the Omega SM300 CK2913 to allow an easier reading of how much time is left before needed to make an ascent back to the surface. Its dial layout is classic, home to “puffy” round and rectangular hour markers, accompanied by an inverted triangle at 12 o’clock. However, zoom in closer and you’ll note that the round lume plots on the upper portion of the dial are larger than the ones on the lower side for added visual interest.

The bezel of the FLX002 tips its hat to the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms Bund, characterized by its lack of graduations since minute markings proved to be useless when the time was being measured in hours. The sterile bezel includes a luminescent round 12 o’clock marker and nothing else. The FLX002 is furnished with a “California dial,” a layout that includes a mix of Arabic numerals, Roman numerals, and shapes that was patented by Rolex in the 1940s and popularized by Panerai over the following decades.

Both the Fleux FLX001 and FLX002 run on Seiko (SII) NH38A automatic movements, operating at a frequency of 21,600 beats per hour and offering a 41-hour power reserve.

Limited to only 300 examples each, the price for the FLX001 and FLX002 watches is $499 USD and Fleux is currently offering them for sale via its Kickstarter campaign, which runs until May 1st. Buying the “Double the Fun” package will get you both watches for $803 USD. The watches come in a Saffiano leather flat-pack travel watch box and are estimated to be delivered in September 2023. For more information about the Fleux FLX001 and FLX002 watches, please visit the brand’s website.

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