It seldom happens that I am positively surprised by the price of a watch. Sure, I was expecting the CIGA Design Series X Eye of Horus watch to be competitively priced, but I never thought it’d be this low. At the time of writing, these are available for $199 USD, with a suggested retail price of $269 USD, and you can buy an additional year of warranty for $10 (will be $20 at the end of the campaign) and an extra strap for $20 ($30 later). Far from perfect, the CIGA Design Series X Eye of Horus is one of those watches that I feel like I could recommend to novice (even first-time) mechanical watch customers and burned-out seasoned enthusiasts alike.

The Good

Let’s kick things off with the good stuff. The CIGA Design Series X Eye of Horus watch is presented in book-like packaging, as is customary for CIGA Design’s watches. It’s simple, without feeling cheap. In the package, one finds a short and sweet presentation of the concept, the watch head — which is a bit difficult to remove, the packaging perhaps a bit too heavily inspired by Apple’s packaging that is an undignified, ridiculous pain in the neck — as well as the strap. All one has to do is install the straps, which is relatively easy thanks to the tool-free spring bars and a case material that feels a lot less fragile or prone to scratches than traditional metal lugs.

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Once in hand, the lightness of the 47.3mm by 48mm case immediately stands out. Crafted from “premium bio-ceramic” (glorified plastic, as is the MoonSwatch), it’s a hair under 50 grams (1.76 ounces), and even with the strap installed, it’s just 67.4 grams (2.38 oz). Better still, it is only 12.1mm thick, which, combined with its featherweight execution, makes this rather wide watch more comfortable to wear than those measurements might suggest. The rubber strap (more like silicone) feels cheap because it probably is that, but at least it is supple and comfy, and has the Eye of Horus logo on the longer piece and the CIGA Design branding embossed into the shorter piece. With the ventilation holes, it will be that much nicer to wear during extended periods.

We must, of course, address the question of aesthetics, arguably the selling point of this watch, next to the strong cost-of-entertainment ratio. Clearly, one better have a taste for ultra-modern, arguably sci-fi-inspired looks, or at least not be immediately turned off by them, but even if you just tolerate the design, you’ll likely find the CIGA Design Series X Eye of Horus watch to be fun on the wrist. It has odd cutouts on all four sides of the bezel which, together with the thin profile and what looks like an eject marker over 12 o’clock, creates the illusion that there is an additional device or something that could be attached to it. Die-hard watch fans might be reminded of the Linde Werdelin luxury dive watch that had a dive computer attachment that we reviewed back in 2016.

There are three different colorways with certain movement and case components available in black, silver, and “gold.” This one, the “Rose Gold” (quite the euphemism) is my personal favorite of the bunch because it best separates the black case from the rest of the watch and, frankly, enough is going on for one to wish for some separation of the various functions and components. The hands are silver on all three models. One might not expect the dial to have any lume, but the hour markers, the tip of the two main hands as well as various lines, and the Eye of Horus logo right in the center are all lumed.

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Continuing on the positives, the “custom-created” (whatever that means) CIGA Design Caliber CD-01 is a 150-part movement that, unlike so many other skeletonized watch movements at this price point, is not shockingly bad to look at. For the record, I have seen four-figure-priced watches with ETA/Sellita movement so basic that I instinctively and immediately felt sick from looking at them, not under a loupe but merely with the naked eye. By contrast, the CD-01 punches way above its weight thanks to its combination of filigree execution, bespoke design, and proper sharp surfaces.

Having a shaped movement inside a watch is often the privilege of ultra-high-end watches with the implication that it shall cost a fortune not just to the brand but also to the customer to have a caliber that follows the curves of a shaped watch (“shaped watch” is often used to refer to any watch that isn’t round). Well, the CD-01 appears to have abandoned its rounded heritage leaving nothing that would remind us of the practice that many brands have perfected over the years where a re-shaped baseplate or mounting plate is all that is “tailored” in an otherwise unchanged movement set in a novel case design. In this instance, nigh-on every bridge reaches from the case all the way to the structural and central part of the movement, creating a bespoke impression that is likely to be immediately (if perhaps not consciously) appreciated by many.

As for decorations, the CD-01 delivers rather more than one could expect for $199. Thank goodness, apparently gone are the days of those grotesquely kitsch “engraved” movement decorations we had been seeing for decades on cheap skeletonized movements. Instead, we have many small overlays and ridged, metallic-finished parts installed on top of the bridges. It is apparently easier and cheaper than applying these small ridges or other decorations on the bridges themselves but, frankly, it looks totally acceptable — unlike, again, those garish waves and “engraved decorations” on most other cheap skeletonized movements. As far as looks go, the CD-01 scores high in my book because it’s pretty and intricate enough that even seasoned enthusiasts accustomed to more high-end stuff want to look at it and scrutinize it. And praise does not get higher than that for a $199 (or $269, even) watch.

On the wrist, the CIGA Design Series X Eye of Horus watch is comfortable to wear thanks to its low weight, moderate case thickness, and supple strap. As I said in my Konstantin Chaykin Joker review in 2019, fun watch concepts can only be successful if the execution is solid for the price and if the watch is nice to wear over extended periods. Otherwise, they are barely more than an entertaining concept, not a watch.

The Shocking, i.e. The Wildest Price Guesses

Since receiving this CIGA Design Series X Eye of Horus watch, I’ve been asking long-term watch enthusiasts, watch industry folks, and some completely oblivious to watches, how much they think this particular watch is worth. Full disclosure, most of the time I did not remove the watch off my wrist, and the lighting wasn’t always the best, but my question in this real-world test was to find out “If you saw somebody with this watch on, right here and now, how much would you estimate their watch was worth?” The answers, predictably, were much higher than the $199 cost — but, shockingly, they were incredibly high even from folks who may not be professional watch writers or watchmakers but have handled their fair share of high- and ultra-high-end watches.

In this not at all a representative or scientific survey, the lowest estimate from people working at watch brands (and you might want to be sitting down for this) was: $7,500. Yes, that’s the lowest estimates went. The highest? $200,000-$250,000. For the record, this is not because this watch has anything on a $200,000 watch up close, but because it is the first Chinese-made watch to have successfully abandoned all those terrible details that continue to plague most of its peers and make them look cheap not only up close, but also from afar. Guestimates from non-watch-fiends ranged from $5,000 to $30,000, but they admittedly have less of a bearing on how much luxury watches cost in general.

Again, the point here is not to say or suggest that this CIGA Design Series X watch looks or feels like a four-figure-priced watch — let alone many times that. Instead, it is to underline that this is among the most spectacular watches in this segment and to emphasize how much it means for a sub-$500 watch to not have any obnoxiously or obviously brash, rough, or cheap details. The real tour de force, however, is that the CIGA Design Series X Eye of Horus watch achieves this elevated level not with a steel case and flat dial, but with a fully open-worked movement which associates this increased level of quality with a yet higher price expectation in the eyes of many.

The Odd

I don’t intend to delve into symbolism too much — we are on the Internet, after all, where it’s best to tread carefully with discussions on symbolism. That said, I can’t help but think that CIGA Design knowingly or unknowingly put the Eye of Providence, also known as the all-seeing eye, into the center of this watch, and not the Eye of Horus. I struggle to find ancient artifacts where the Eye of Horus, a symbol in ancient Egyptian religion that represents well-being, healing, and protection, is placed inside a triangle. The Eye of Horus is also rarely seen without its characteristic combination of additional lines, specifically an eyebrow, a dark line extending behind the rear corner of the eye, a cheek marking below the center or forward corner of the eye, and a line extending below and toward the rear of the eye that ends in a curl or spiral.

Left: A limestone stela from ca. 1539-1458 B.C.E., decorated with the “left wedjat,” the eye of Horus at the top. Right: The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789 with the Eye of Providence at the top.

Simply searching for “Eye of Horus” will show you a bunch of vector graphics, gift items, and whatever else, and in that context, the Eye of Horus, or “wedjat,” can be found in a triangle. On ancient Egyptian artifacts and scripts, I couldn’t find such an example. Knowingly designing and/or naming a watch after the Eye of Providence would arguably be a more divisive strategy, as the eye inside a triangle is closely associated with a church that is still active today — unlike the ancient Egyptian religion to which the Eye of Horus is linked. The “all-seeing eye” is also present on the currency, constitution, and other components of powerful countries that exist today and so the eye is at times at the center of discussions about global politics and power. In a way, it feels like this watch was designed to be an Eye of Providence watch later renamed Eye of Horus, but we’ll never know.

The Bad

There are some reasonable compromises to be made with the CIGA Design Series X Eye Of Horus watch and, strangely enough, some of them aren’t exactly linked to its low cost of production. This is to say that such issues are often common on much more expensive watches. First, let’s begin with the case. There is very little to know about the material CIGA Design openly calls “bio-ceramic.” I wouldn’t be surprised if CIGA Design got inspired by the almighty Swatch Group which also uses this phrase for its castor-plant oil-based case that’s “two-thirds ceramic, one-third bio-sourced plastic.” The Swatch Group shares very little, if any information at all, regarding the origins and manufacturing of this glorified plastic, and neither does CIGA Design. In other words, you probably don’t want to get too worked up about the “bio” nature of this case, because it looks and feels like 3D-printed plastic.

Second, and still related to the case, is the fact that the golden bar screwed onto the left side of the case appears to have emerged from the box with some hairline scratches and with a discoloration not unlike the tarnish one can see on real 18k gold (although, again, it’s of course not real gold in this instance). This may be because this is an early prototype as mass production is slated for December 2023, and deliveries are scheduled to begin in February 2024. I do wish that the case offered more than a 3ATM (30-meter equivalent) water resistance rating. As it is, it’s basically splash-proof but is not suitable for swimming and I wouldn’t recommend wearing this watch in the shower either if that’s something you generally like doing for some reason. The front and rear feature hardened mineral glass, inferior to the feel and scratch resistance of sapphire crystal, but helps keep the cost at bay.

Despite the cool lume, legibility is as compromised as it is bound to be on any watch with a heavily open-worked movement topped off with open-worked hands and an open-worked spinning triangle (the seconds hand). Thankfully, the minute hand is very long and wide, so finding it is rather easy, while the absence of a minute track makes to-the-minute telling of the time in between the hour (5-minute) markers more difficult.

While the CIGA Design Caliber CD-01 delivers all one could expect, and then some, as far as looks and uniqueness are concerned, the specs are mediocre with a mere 40-hour power reserve combined with a 21,600 operating frequency (down from the more modern 4Hz, i.e. 28’800). Accuracy is rated to fall between -15/+30 seconds per day, which is better than most other similarly priced Seikos and other Japanese watches. The self-winding mechanism makes a sweet, busy sound when it is spinning in its winding direction while in the other, non-winding direction it produces a more familiar wobbly metal sound. To be fair, it is still a lot less noticeable and atrocious than in the celebrated ETA 7750/SW-500 family of movements the Swiss have been putting in four-figure priced watches for decades.

Last, the silicone strap does feel basic and cheap, the sort that you find on much cheaper watches priced at tens of dollars, or be it without the Eye of Horus logo and CIGA Design bespoke branding in relief, which are a nice touch. I wonder what strap would work best with this design but I have yet to settle on something that is higher quality but also complementary to the design. Perhaps a large-scale alligator strap with gold stitching would drive a Schwarzenneger-look home, but such a strap would by every chance cost more than the watch itself.

The Ugly

Long (really, very long) term fans of aBlogtoWatch might remember the HourTime podcast hosted by Ariel Adams and John Biggs. It was there and then (about a decade ago) that I learned the phrase “robot turd” and, in all honesty, simply knowing that term has since then ruined many a great watch for me. The Series X makes that phrase spring to mind, but I also immediately realize how unfair that is, because I never quite understood why it was so difficult to find, if not desirable, then at least cool, a borderline science-fiction-inspired, over-the-top watch like the CIGA Design Series X Eye of Horus watch. As always, it is pointless to argue over subjective matters such as watch design, but maybe we can agree that a wow factor is certainly present here. On the wrist, the Series X watch looks bold, large, and unfailingly noticeable, which is not something everybody will want to experience daily, but when you do put it on, it certainly is entertaining from both an aesthetic as well as an engineering point of view.


Had the CIGA Design Series X Eye of Horus watch debuted when I was a novice watch enthusiast looking to buy his first open-worked watch in pursuit of a better, clearer view at the inner workings of a mechanical watch, hand on heart, I’d have sprung for this Series X immediately. I also would have counted every day until I could receive it, and I’d have worn it with pride. This is also to say that the design may be something that works better for those in their teens or early twenties, but I can see someone more mature wearing these with dignity, too, mostly because of the dark overall theme and the low case thickness that allows it to at least partially tuck under a longer sleeve.

Even with its small and reasonable compromises — or perhaps especially because they are just that — the CIGA Design Series X Eye of Horus watch is one of the best value propositions on sale not only today but in a long time in the world of watches. Yes, the case is essentially plastic, but there is a bespoke-looking mechanical movement in there, and there are more than a handful of unique design details all over to extend that tailored look to nigh-on every aspect of the watch. Without question, CIGA Design could turn this into a 100m water-resistant, sapphire crystal-covered, proper carbon-cased monster for around $1,000, but in this instance, I’m happy (and that much more impressed) that the brand set out to make such a watch available at a price point that is accessible to a great many more watch enthusiasts.

The CIGA Design Series X Eye Of Horus watch is priced at $199 USD at the time of writing and will retail for $269 USD. You can learn more at the brand’s website.

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