Proof that a nice watch doesn’t need to come from major watch brand is right here in this artsy timepiece created by Australian designer Ben McCarthy. The watch was “industrialized” by the also Australian firm WORKSHOPPED, who is in the business of making beautiful creations come to life, and then offering them to you. McCarthy is an interesting fellow and industrial designer who makes clearly “modernist” designs, but always seems to emphasis core function in his work. As though it would pain him if form ever beat out function. I applaud this allegiance to the core concept that the things you make should never fail at their core duty. So many “minimalist modern art” items we see around us for sale excel at looking good, and fail at their core tasks. McCarthy lives in Hong Kong, and I am curious as to how being in Chinese culture affects his work.

You can tell that the Pi Watch is clearly a “modern minimalist” item. Stripped of many things we are used to in watches (crown, hour markers, lugs), the Pi Watch nevertheless is a good looking, and easy to use timepiece. I can’t say that I know why the watch is called “Pi.” I don’t see 3.14 (etc, etc….) on the watch anywhere, and I am not enough of a math nerd (I mean, not at all a math nerd) to understand the “circular” motives in the name. Perhaps it stems from the basic metaphor that the equation of Pi is a mystery and currently unsolvable. Ben, are you trying to infer that this watch is an enigma? I would disagree. I get the watch, and I do quite like it.

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In a 40mm wide steel case  (water resistant to 30 meters) with brushed finish all the way around, the Pi watch is a good medium-large size watch. The crownless design makes it feel quite svelte and the integrated strap gives it a very seamless feel. The case is widest at the bottom and tapers a bit  toward the top of the case. A thick looking bezel frames a sapphire crystal over the dial – which is itself the most interesting part of the watch. More on that in a bit. The watch strap is a some type of resin plastic that has a satin finish and feel a bit like those used on Casio G-Shock watches. It is flexible and stiff – sort of at the same time. Makes for a very good texture and feel for the strap. It is one solid piece that is held in place to the case via the rear metal plate of the watch (the is attached via a series of screws). You can tell how the watch strap protrudes a bit before bending to wrap around your wrist – this is to have it fit comfortably on most all wrist sizes.

The watch is pretty comfortable to wear, I have no complaints. The watch looks neat, and is fun to wear. I think to myself how appropriate it would be for a suit and tie. You could pull that off really well, but they the luxury part of my mind starts to think that the design could actually quite easily lend itself to a more luxury build. Imagine a shiny alligator strap and gold case would look very cool. If the Pi Watch is a big hit, I can see it happening.

There is not a lot of banding on the case. Printed on the crystal is a little three hexagon shaped logo that also serves as the 12 o’clock indicator. The style of the dial is thematically like the Movado Museum Face watch, but I like the Pi Watch style better. On the rear of the case you see that it is designed by Ben McCarthy. He did a very good dial job with the dial. Maintaining that it is stylish, but also readable. The dial itself is a solid piece of brushed steel. But instead of being totally bare, it has little folds at each hour mark. The idea is that reflected light will make each little fold highly visible making it easy to read the time. The system works, and even in very low light you can clearly see the different angles for each hour. Hands are round tipped little black rods with holes in the ends of the hands – for added style. The little holes also help your eyes see where the hands are meant to end. Given the simplicity of the dial and the overall modernist presentation of the watch, it works quite well in terms of telling the time (and looking hip).

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Adjusting the watch is done via a crown on the rear of the watch. It is pretty easy to operate, and the watch has a Japanese quartz movement inside of it. The Pi Watch is certainly a purist when it comes to industrial design and telling the time. Given that is probably the first, or one of the first watches from not only Ben McCarthy, but also WORKSHOPPED, the result is good. The watches are available as part of a limited edition set of 500 pieces (available with the pictured black strap, or a white one). You could call it a unisex design, but I feel it is more masculine in style. Given the limited availability (as well as production) and designer nature of the watch, the price of $430 seems fair. Check it out or get a Pi Watch at WORKSHOPPED here.

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