At this point, it has become impractical to track all of the various special and limited-edition timepieces that Hong Kong-based Undone has produced. Between working with designers and license partners — along with its own creative ideas — Undone has allowed its various base models to blossom with an unprecedented volume of creativity the slow boys in Switzerland should take notice of. Today, on aBlogtoWatch, I take a hands-on look at the special-edition “Kyoto Ghost” version of the Undone Basecamp watch. This is part of a small set of watches that debut bronze as a material for the entry-level mechanical watch collection Undone debuted in 2019 with the original Basecamp (on aBlogtoWatch here).
Less than a year later, Undone updated the Basecamp (Undone Basecamp 2.0 watches on aBlogtoWatch here) with some added features, such as more water resistance and other tweaks. Since then, the Basecamp (along with the Urban) have been where Undone is applying much of its creative juices. This particular Basecamp “Kyoto Ghost” Bronze watch is part of a series of four different (though similar) watches that introduce bronze cases to the 40mm-wide Basecamp case. Two of the Basecamp Bronze watches are Japanese themed with a novel take on the “California” dial which replaced an upper segment of Roman numeral hour markers with Japanese Kanji characters. Here the characters are said to be a nod to Buddhist teachings and the characters translate into “existence, impermanence, suffering, and the absence of self-nature.” In other words, these watches are about helping the wearer “let go” from the stresses of social human existence.
While the Basecamp Kyoto Ghost Bronze watch is not a limited edition, it does have a sister timepiece that is: the Undone X Simple Union Bronze Limited Edition. That watch features the same case as this model and a similar dial, albeit one blue and with wabi-sabi “cracks” going down the middle. That limited-edition model also uses a strap made from a particular style of Japanese printed fabric, whereas the Kyoto Ghost has a more simple vintage-style brown leather strap.
At under $400, this is one of the more affordable, stylish bronze sports watches around. Bronze is not better than steel, per se (the other way around from a pure functional standpoint), but rather it has a distinctive warm color and has the tendency to patina (oxidize) over time. This helps bronze watches develop an aged look that makes them particularly fashionable in a time when people are still very interested in the aesthetic of organic surfaces and materials.
Watch lovers will no doubt enjoy Undone’s take on the California dial in the Basecamp Kyoto Ghost, especially because the brand offers a nice assortment of more traditional California dials for the Basecamp watches. The 40mm-wide case has a unique Lexan crystal over the dial and is 15mm-thick by 40mm in width. One thing I would have liked in the watch is a more modern style of rotating bezel. Most modern dive watches feature unidirectional bezels with a ratcheting click system. Here, the bezel moves freely in both directions under a bit of tension so that it does not rotate too easily. While the Basecamp model in steel starts at a lower price, as dive-style watches edge toward the $400 and above mark, I would prefer for them to include all the expected features enthusiasts have come to expect. It isn’t that big a deal given the price point, but it is a lacking feature in the Basecamp watches (though Undone’s Aqua dive watch collection does, of course, have unidirectional ratcheting diver-style timing bezels).
Inside is a Japanese mechanical movement to match the Japanese theme of the watch. Viewable through the caseback crystal is a Seiko Instrument caliber NH35A automatic movement. From a style and value perspective, Undone is one of the leaders in the industry right now, and its prolific creativity seemingly has no bounds. Sure, it would be nice if the brand could slow down its release cycle for fans to better wrap their minds around what Undone is doing, but it does give you the impression that Undone is able to satisfy multiple types of consumers at the same time — something most watch brands have struggled to do for years.
Price for the Undone Basecamp Kyoto Ghost Bronze watch is $380 USD. Learn more or order at the Undone website here.