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This time of year, the world of watchmaking gathers in Switzerland to pull back the curtain on the year’s best innovations. At 2022’s Watches & Wonders event, we’ve seen the schticky and the astounding alike. Hans Peter Grädel, the dynamo behind Technik 4X watches, is all too familiar with this annual tradition, having spent five decades developing parts for watch brands from Europe to Japan to the United States. Now, the engineer/designer is focused on a new project, one that brings a nearly half-century horological career into sharp focus. In Technik 4X, Grädel’s personal project, the brand has launched a timepiece that is as innovative as anything found among the haute horology booths at the Watches & Wonders expo.
Dubbed the Skeletor, the first watch from Technik 4X is a dual-time affair with a twist. While other brands have creatively fit two movements into a single case, the Skeletor does so using both a quartz and an automatic movement. Yes, instead of the two inline quartz configurations found on most twin-dialed timepieces, the Skeletor makes use of an Epson solar quartz movement on the left and a Seiko NH05B movement on the right. Together, the two movements sit proportionally inside the 44.5mm stainless steel case without feeling too crowded. And while 44.5mm may seem too far on the He-Man side of things for modern watch geeks, the absence of a rotating bezel means the watch wears smaller than expected, especially with the 45mm lug-to-lug measurement.
Beyond the innovative movement configuration, the Skeletor has another rare feature: a mostly transparent dial. Except where the movements, hands, and dials come together, the remaining negative space is left void, giving a clear view through both sapphire crystals on the face and screwed caseback. On the Skeletor Pro models, this area is enhanced by metalized stripes on the rear crystal.
Variety abounds in the lineup, with the Skeletor and Skeletor Pro available in either black or stainless steel casing styles. A mostly-white variant with blue-accented hands contrasts sharply with the dark-dialed, red-hand option that seems ready for battle. Categorically, each version can be dressed up or down thanks to the quick-change strap system. Technik 4X makes mixing and matching easy, as each watch ships with both a metal mesh and color-matched nylon strap. With this many permutations, narrowing down favorites is hard, but in a possible nod to the current trend toward unconventional strap options, one pairing that works exceptionally well is the nylon red with the gray skeletonized Pro version.
Finally, the can’t-be-missed dial text “Powered By Clean Energy” signals the true essence of this watch. With two movements, each reliant on a different form of renewable energy (solar and kinetic, in case you are wondering), the Skeletor aligns with Technik 4X’s mission to “do everything, step by step, to make… watches as environmentally friendly as possible.”
Five decades of looking at watches can make a man do crazy things. Fortunately, the watch public is the beneficiary of Grädel’s musings, and the Skeletor is the kind of watch we’re surprised nobody thought of a long time ago. We’re excited to see what his mastery in the universe of watchmaking will yield next.
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Brand: Technik 4X
Model: Skeletor and Skeletor Pro
Dimensions: 45.5mm diameter, 11.45mm height, 20mm lugs, 45mm lug-to-lug
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Crystal: Antireflection-coated sapphire
Movements: Self-winding Seiko/SII NH05B movement with date, Epson VS17A solar movement
Dial: Pierced aperture, hands and hour markers coated with Swiss Super-LumiNova SLN/C1
Strap/Bracelet: Nylon and stainless-steel mesh
Price & Availability: From 539CHF