September 29, 2017
by Ariel Adams
Watch enthusiast purists might be feeling increasingly disconnected from the current watch brand landscape. No longer (for a while now) is most of the innovation or intensity coming from big, old names – but rather from small to medium scrappy companies filling in price ranges long since abandoned by the stalwart Swiss. Objest is just such a brand with their Objest Customized Automatic. With a price of around 500 GBP for a “Swiss Made” automatic watch for the modern design generation, these online-customizable “hip watches” are a rare breed of good quality in an increasingly crowded segment.
Objest is said to have been started by a team of international designers in London – and it looks like it. In a sense, the value proposition is to visit their website and select from a series of color options pre-approved by the design committee. Online building tools allow brands like Objest to offer the perception of choice with more or less one product – and it is a business model that’s worth it for them to pursue, since it can actually work.
The foundation of the Objest watch is a 42mm wide ovoid, which seems to be mostly inspired by the work of Marc Newson – not only his work at Ikepod, but even into the Apple Watch. The Objest crown feels at least thematically inspired by the one on the Apple Watch. With that said, Objest offers enough differentiation. So, while their product clearly falls within a distinct aesthetic genre, you can look at one with a skilled eye and identify it as something from the brand. I say skilled eye because there is no logo on the dial, which I would say is most directly inspired by London-based Uniform Wares.
In the world of up-to-the-minute design, it is all about taking what has been done before you and pushing it just a little bit further. For the type of hip socialite with an eye for contemporary art, the Objest style is going to be an easy choice. Unisex by design, the model can be adapted for a more male or female look depending on the chosen components. The one I’m actually wearing for you was designed for a woman, by a woman, and yet as a guy, I can sort of pull it off. But, it doesn’t look quite right – an all black version would look better on me.
At 42mm wide, the case wears small given the lack of lugs. The steel case is offered in a sandblasted finish, along with color PVD-coated styles in black, copper, or yellow gold. Objest “keeps it real,” by charging a little bit more here or there for the precise watch you are getting depending on the components you choose. The difference between a strap buckle color can be 5 GBP. Some people might find that Objest would be better off just averaging it out and charging the same for everything, but it is true that coated metal components do cost more than non-coated components.
Unlike many of today’s “blingy” watches, Objest makes what you would call a high-end art watch. While quartz-based watches are available in this same “Hach Automatic” style (and the quartz ones are the “Hach Quartz”) the most interesting models have basic, albeit robust, Swiss ETA 2824-2 automatic movements (which are visible though a crystal in the caseback).