A few years ago, aBlogtoWatch participated in the launch of the new and affordable watch brand Klokers. Positioned as a “cool watch,” as opposed to a “luxury watch,” the slide-rule-themed timepiece collection quickly grew past its crowd-funded origins to a serious brand, producing a stream of models across a few collections. The brand’s flagship product is the 44mm-wide KLOK-01 collection, which is what I review today with the “blue and steel” ref. KLOK-01-D7 on the Milanese mesh-metal bracelet.
Someone recently e-mailed aBlogtoWatch asking the legitimate question, “What is the term for a watch that displays the time via moving discs, as opposed to moving hands?” This is what we see on the KLOK-01 and other Klokers watches. Even though this manner of telling the time has been used on countless watches for decades, I’m not sure if this time layout has a particular name. Klokers simply calls it a “circular slide-rule-inspired watch” or “three rotating concentric rings to display the time along a vertical line.” Those are correct from a descriptive standpoint, but it is interesting that no one has come up with a proper term to reference such time displays.
What is the experience of reading the hours, minutes, and seconds via three concentric rotating discs actually like? Once you get used to it, reading the time is really quite simple, but I have found that such displays are not intuitive to most people. When people see a Klokers watch on your wrist, most do not understand how to read the time immediately. I’ve worn a great number of wrist watches with displays that eschew the traditional centrally mounted hour and minute hands. This can cause a lot of confusion for lay people — either you’re up for the challenge or you prefer dials with a bit more “universal familiarity.”
Reading the time is simple, as I said, and it’s really just about viewing the vertical strip located at the 12 o’clock position on the dial. Reading from the inner dial out, you have the seconds, minutes, and hours. The system is also the exact reverse of traditional dials. Rather than having the markers be stationary and the hands moving, here the hands are stationary and the markers move. Since this is a simple 1:1 juxtaposition of the normal layout, it is equally capable of indicating the time.
Why people enjoy the KLOK-01 and other Klokers products is because of their particular method of designing a disc-based wrist watch and the overall packaging of the brand. The design-centric concept resulted in an attractive round case, along with a lug-less case design that uses a proprietary connecting system so that you can swap out different straps. This system also leads to high wearing-comfort because all you have on your wrist is the strap, upon which is connected a watch. This is opposed to wearing a watch on your wrist which is secured by a strap. If that doesn’t make sense, then when you wear a product like this you’ll immediately appreciate how comfortable it can be.
While Klokers has smaller watches, the KLOK-01 comes in steel and is 44mm-wide by 11.5mm-thick. The case is water resistant to 30 meters and over the dial is a non-sapphire polymer (plastic) crystal with a built-in magnifier section over where the time is read. Of course, a properly AR-coated sapphire crystal would have been ideal for a product like this, but it would have dramatically raised the price above the roughly $500 cost of the KLOK-01 on the bracelet (less on the strap). One element of the case design is the pusher, which is how the strap/bracelet is released from the connection point. Extra pushers/crowns on cases can make for interesting design elements. Just think of the Omega Seamaster 300M collection.
Klokers produces the KLOK-01 with a series of dial colors, with the KLOK-01-D7 in “midnight blue.” Such a color is currently quite trendy and attractive, but for the most ideal legibility, I would recommend one of the lighter-colored KLOK-01 models. The challenge in producing such watch dials correctly is in making sure the tolerances for the three discs are very tight. The discs need to be very close together for the dial to look good, but also not so close as they touch each other. Imagine the negative wear and tear that would occur over the course of a few years — not to mention the poorer accuracy — if the discs were to touch during operation. Klokers manages this quite well, and the dials of their watches come out very nicely.
Inside the watches are Swiss Ronda quartz movements that have a two-year battery life. I mention that because it takes more energy to move discs, as opposed to lighter-weight hands. This has the inner seconds ring constantly ticking gently, which makes for an attractive animation on the dial. If you opt for the Klokers KLOK-08 watch, for example (smaller at 39mm-wide), you have just two discs for the hours and minutes without a seconds disc.
In addition to being able to wear the KLOK-01 on your wrist, Klokers makes the very attachment accessories available that allow you to snap the watch case to a pocketwatch style attachment, as a desk clock, etc. I am not sure how many people use the watch in these other ways, but the variety inherent in the attachment system is a draw to the collection and helps stimulate the imaginations of consumers. Even if most people wear their watches the exact same way every day, just having wearing options is something watch collectors tend to enjoy. The particular mesh-metal “Milanese-style” bracelet is known as their KLINK-5 and, while simple, is a satisfying way to wear the watch. Stylewise, the bracelet makes a lot of sense, but not everyone will like the deployant-less design, which makes putting the watch on and taking it off a bit more finicky than with most bracelets.
As someone who was never naturally drawn to slide-rule-style systems on watches, be they time displays or actual slide-rules, I found I really enjoyed wearing the Klokers KLOK-01. The design of the displays feels both like an instrument and like a fashion statement. So, in that regard, I never felt like I was exclusively wearing a “statement piece.” The watch can be justified on its merits, given its original design and less than stratospheric price. For someone in a design field who wants something quirky without being weird, I think a Klokers watch makes a lot of sense. I’ve noticed that certain people in engineering or similar fields who have a history of using a slide-rule also feel an additional level of emotional attachment to the design of this and other Klokers watch dials.
In a perfect world, the watch would have a more durable sapphire crystal, but that is really my only gripe, and for the price, I don’t expect one, since the dial would require a more expensive “box-style” sapphire crystal with the additional expense of the magnified element. It also doesn’t bother me that these have quartz movements in them. The overall fit and finish of the KLOK-01 is sufficient for it to be worn in the midst of much more expensive watches — assuming the wearer wants to be playful, but not showy, on that particular day. If you can’t afford most luxury watches and still want something that offers a good wearing experience plus a fun style statement, then a Klokers watch might fit the bill very nicely. Price for the Kloker KLOK-01-D7 on a textile strap is 438 Euros while the price as seen here on the mesh steel bracelet is 498 Euros. Learn more or order via the Klokers website.
>Model: KLOK-01-D7 on KLINK-05 bracelet
>Price: 498 Euros (as reviewed)
>Size: 44mm-wide, 11.5mm-thick
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Among engineers and scientists who aren’t up for luxury watches but like to view something inspired and fun (as well as functional).
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Anyone drawn to the design of the dial who wants something mostly practical but that doesn’t fit the norm of a traditional three-hand watch.
>Best characteristic of watch: Overall design and concept are very good. Others have attempted to make such dial layouts attractive and Klokers (for the price) might be a best-of-breed product.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Plastic crystal is less durable and causes some glare, but it is manageable. Difficult to use your own straps (you’d need to attach the propriety mount to them), and you are limited by what Klokers offers in that department.