Ikepod is a watch brand that was originally started by famed industrial designer Marc Newson and a gentleman named Oliver Ike. In the 1990s they took Newson’s “Pod” brand of watches and transformed them into Ikepod. A rather remarkable luxury brand ensued with a series of now-iconic designs. Marc Newson was later hired by Apple, and while no one officially credited Mr. Newson for the design of the Apple Watch, it was clear that elements from Ikepod were applied to what became the world’s most popular smartwatch product. But let’s return to the discussion of traditional watches and the release of the Ikepod Seapod.

In the 2000s Marc Newson left the brand and, eventually, so did Mr. Ike. Ikepod had a few different managers until it took a pause, only to be later revived in 2018 with a new brand concept. The resurrected and reformed Ikepod watch brand was introduced on aBlogtoWatch here. The “new” Ikepod brand differs from the original brand in at least one key way – pricing. Ikepod today is focused of vastly more affordable watches than many of the original Ikepod products were priced at. In that sense, the new Ikepod watches aren’t meant to replace or re-imagine the original watches but are rather fresh products, often inspired by the original models, with a focus on having prices that make mainstream consumers balk less often. Accordingly, the new Seapod watch with its automatic movement costs just a bit over $1,600 USD.

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The Ikepod Seapod is a new timepiece release for 2021, and it is among the most ambitious efforts yet by Ikepod to create a modern, affordable timepiece that seems to fit into the larger DNA heritage of the brand. The reason I like the Seapod isn’t just for its hip diver’s watch-style design, but also because of the person who designed it. That person is Mr. Fabrice Gonet, who is among my favorite living watch designers. Allow me to also state that the metal bracelet option available for the Ikepod Seapod (in addition to the silicone strap) is designed by yet another famed modern watch designer, Mr. Alexandre Peraldi. He worked leading design at Baume & Mercier for nearly 20 years before going out on his own.

So, the design mandate to Gonet by Ikepod was to create not only a modern diver’s watch for Ikepod but also one that was affordably priced. Gonet is not known for his inexpensive watch designs given that he sharpened his design teeth while imagining everything from complex tourbillons to futuristic time-telling wearables. It is actually true that oftentimes a more simple design meant to be mass-produced can be a serious challenge as compared to some lavish luxury watches where a lot more money can go into the manufacturing side. Note, as well, that Ikepod is very open about who designed the watch, giving Fabrice Gonet credit on its website. This is a smart move, albeit very different from the traditional luxury watch mentality of hiding anyone who had anything to do with the product and wishing to keep all the credit for the brand itself.

Ikepod had a diver’s watch in the 1990s called the Seaslug. This is one of the most interesting, albeit quirky, dive watches of the 1990s, and its popularity has been tempered by the fact that it has a case that is just about 37mm-wide. Gonet started with the Seaslug watch (I shot a GMT version of the Seaslug next to the new Seapod for comparison) but didn’t just make a modern version of it. That’s because Ikepod today seems to want to focus on the bulbous, pebble-style case that many of the Ikepod watches were known for. So the mandate was to take some of the design DNA of the original Seaslug, and then merge them with the pebble-style case for a new product the brand is calling the Seapod. It is just me, or is it a bit hard to not miss the Seaslug name? I simply love the humor of it. In an era when dive watches take on some of the most aggressive sounding terms of the sea, calling a timepiece by the name of an interesting but mostly peaceful ocean mollusk seems rather charming.

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Now let’s return to the Seapod and discuss its design and technical specs as a timepiece. This is very much an enthusiast-oriented product with a refined design and simple appeal that today’s watch collectors seem to greatly admire. A good example is the lack of a date window. Ask any watch retailer, and they will tell you that in many instances, mainstream buyers like date windows. Watch enthusiasts often don’t care as much about the added functionality of the date, and rather sometimes get annoyed at how the placement of a date window harms overall symmetry. The Seapod is a time-only dial with an elegant and symmetrical design that screams “this is for you, watch collectors.”

Ikepod debuted three versions of the Seapod that include this reference S001 Seapod Zale (with the black and orange dial), the S002 Jaques (with a black and blue dial), and the Seapod S003 Francois, which has a black-colored case and monochromatic black and white dial. The Seapod begins with a 46mm-wide steel case, which is about 17mm-thick and water-resistant to 200 meters. Over the dial is a very dramatically curved sapphire crystal that does benefit from having a commendable level of AR-coating in order to reduce visual glare. The hands and hour markers are lumed with a blue color, but the luminant is on the weaker side – which is probably due to the limited amount of how much is able to be applied.

While the Seapod case dimensions sound chunky, the watch wears smaller for a few reasons. First is the fact that the pebble-style shape means that it doesn’t wear as thick as its dimensions might suggest. Second is the fact that the case is “UFO-style” meaning it has no lugs — the strap or bracelet connects directly to the case. This makes for a hip look but also provides that the Seapod can be attractively worn on the greatest variety of wrists.

While the case shape of the Seapod differs from the Seaslug, there are a lot of design elements that Mr. Gonet carried over. First, of course, is the dial’s hour markers and hands. While not exact emulations, the dial immediately reminds anyone who knows about the Seaslug that the historic model is a relative of the Seaslug. Other little details such as the crown are also Seaslug-inspired. Of course, the two watches are very different in terms of how they were priced, so it is good to see as interesting a dial in what is still a relatively affordable package.

Around the dial is a rotating diver’s style bezel with lume pip at the 60-minute marker. Ikepod is very proud of the bezel because it is designed to seamlessly blend in with the brushed steel of the rest of the case, but it can also, of course, be rotated. This seemed to take some special engineering work, and I can easily appreciate how getting the parts and tolerances correct for this feature may have very well proved frustrating. Inside the watch is no longer a Swiss Made movement but an excellent alternative at this price level. Inside the watch is a Japanese-made Miyota caliber 9039 automatic. This is still a pretty new modern automatic mechanical movement that operates at 4Hz with 42 hours of power reserve. Just like the original Seaslug, the Seapod has a sapphire crystal exhibition window on the back that offers a view of the movement. I believe I neglected to take the plastic protector off of it when taking pictures (just FYI).

Overall, the Seapod is a very successful watch, especially for the money. When you charge $5,000-$10,000 for a steel watch, you can do things that you can’t do in the under-$2,000 range. Given those limitations, I think Ikepod has a really nice timepiece offering with the Seapod. I have very few quibbles. One is that, given the curved sapphire crystal, there is no easy way to eliminate glare altogether. Second is the fact that I feel the hands could be maybe 10-20% larger. Indeed, they follow many of the original Ikepod dial proportions, but my eyes tell me they could be a tad bigger overall. It’s a small thing. Finally, the included strap is silicone (versus rubber). There are a lot of good reasons to choose silicone over rubber, and in a lot of ways they are similar. That said, rubber has a bit more instant pliability and weight, which makes it feel a bit more high-end. If this watch were under $1,000, I wouldn’t even bring this up, but as a collector, I’m still not as on board with silicone as I am rubber given the tactile experience. Then again, this is so minor an issue I believe most collectors wouldn’t ever even think about the strap material.

Speaking of the strap, Ikepod offers a few strap colors, including black and orange for this model, while a blue strap is also available for the S002 Jacques Seapod model. While I don’t think I will be able to feature the matching steel metal bracelet when this watch review article publishes, I may revisit it later and add in more photographs after getting the bracelet for the Seapod to experience. Ikepod and team did a really nice job with the Fabrice Gonet-designed Seapod. It’s part of a newer generation of professionally and hiply designed timepieces at more accessible luxury price points. That means consumers win, and I simply want to see more of it. Price for the Ikepod Seapod S001 Zale is $1,650 USD. Learn more or order at the Ikepod website here.

Necessary Information:
>Brand: Ikepod
>Model: Seapod S001 Zale
>Price: $1,650 USD
>Size: 46mm-wide, ~17mm-thick.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: Hip daily sports watch with a modern marine vibe that works as well for mainstream fashion purposes as it does to impress fellow watch enthusiasts.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Lover of classic Ikepod watches who can’t or won’t get an original but would be more than happy to get a modern version that is both versatile and well-priced.
>Best characteristic of watch: The story of how one well-respected watch designer worked to revise and update the work of another well-respected designer is personally appealing to me. The case wears comfortably and it’s a very nice mixture of elegance and masculinity.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Requires some background information and context to best appreciate the original formation of this watch. Crystal does have some glare, but it’s hard to avoid. There will be those who feel that for the price (or a bit more), the watch should have included a Swiss Made automatic movement, given the brand’s heritage.

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