There are so few watches that can be described as unique or new or novel. Rarer still are the watches that legitimately garner those words and manage not to price out 95% of the population. Most jaw-dropping innovation and design comes with commensurate pricing, and so most of us are left gawking but empty-handed. At best, we have to settle for some ersatz derivation of what we actually want. The excitement around Kollokium seemed to be gradual, building in crescendo to a climax at its very limited friends and family release. The new brand from watch enthusiast Amr Sindi, Manuel Emch of Louis Erard (and previously of Romaine Jerome and Jaquet Droz), and designer Barth Nussbaumer was created in 2020 with the goal of “building something from scratch with no established or inherited framework.” The Kollokium Projekt 01 achieves the goal and then some.


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The watch starts with a steel case with a satin finish, but the manufacturing and construction aren’t typical. Instead of a CNC machine used by 99% of brands, the Kollokium Projekt 01 case is die-cast in two pieces. It sets the stage for the entire watch with what the brand calls a Neubrutalist design approach. The base of the 40mm case acts almost as a cradle for the rest of the watch, with the lugs first rising up to cradle the watch, then moving out and down to hug the wrist. The upper portion, including the midcase and crystal, measures 38.5mm, and I’d say that’s a closer representation of how it feels on the wrist. An almost-cryptic embossing on the left side shows an abbreviated brand and model name, while the right side features what the brand describes as a “valve-shaped” crown.  This crown works aesthetically but it isn’t very functional. With three satiny sides, gripping isn’t ideal, and even pulling it out can be a nuisance. This may be one to keep on a winder.

If you look at the profile of the watch, you see three distinct tiers: the bottom, midcase, and crystal, each taking a step in. The illusion that’s created is a draping effect as the watch seems to expand from top to bottom. If you’ve worn such watches (a chunkier, less forgiving example might be the Oris Aquis), you know they defy their quoted dimensions and sit beautifully on the wrist. The watch comes standard with an elastic nylon hook-and-loop strap that’s incredibly comfortable. If you’re not familiar with these straps, one end has a slot for a spring bar, while the hook end loops through the other lug like a NATO before hooking into itself. You get the comfort of a NATO without the thickness (or the security, I suppose). Though I didn’t photograph it, I did try this out on a number of straps; and while you need to be careful with thickness, the black-and-white colorway and 20mm lugs allow for plenty of pairings.

The sapphire crystal is simply enormous here, boxy and taking up nearly half the height of the watch. It’s not just to look awesome, which it does, but it allows the incredible dial to be unhindered by other dimensions. There is no bezel, so the crystal is really a display case for the dial. So far, I’ve discussed the case, but even with its die-cast process and two-piece construction, the shape isn’t wholly new. It remains a round watch case with pointed lugs, even if it does those things in ways that seem new.

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The dial, on the other hand, is entirely new. We’ve all seen dials with depth and texture, but this is beyond that. 468 cylindrical markers in 6 heights and diameters are hand placed on the matte black dial and the tip of each is hand-painted with orange-glowing Super-LumiNova. The cylinders are arranged in a way that they rise up and widen at each hour and recede in between. If you ever played with a pinscreen toy, that’s probably what came to mind first. From the side, the dial looks like a megalopolis with a never-ending sea of enormous buildings (when I had this on, my son would ask me to “show him the city”).

The handset is simple and modern, with a black backing and orange lume outline that doesn’t shine quite as bright as the more concentrated dial lume. The seconds hand reminded me of an angular shepherd’s staff and is un-lumed but so electric in its orangeness that it’s visible in almost any light. The fully lumed dial is one of the biggest draws of this watch, and it’s a spectacle on the wrist. The lume doesn’t last that long (which I hear will be resolved in future models), but every time it was even a little lit up and visible, I’d take the time to look at it. With the variance in lume between the dial and hands, and the bright orange of the seconds hand, you get three different oranges at play at once. I do think I might have preferred a different lume color on the hands to make the contrast and at-a-glance reading better in low light.

The iconoclastic verve continues on the caseback. Similar to Bell & Ross’ casebacks, there’s a left-oriented set of text with the name and model, then all the relevant information in German. Below that, though, a cheeky bit of text takes a shot at the haute horlogerie heroes for making watches that can’t actually be used. (The irony is that at 30m WR the Kollokium isn’t exactly adventure-ready.) Beneath the caseback is a La Joux-Perret G101, the no-date variant of the LJP G100. The movement has been getting more and more attention as an automatic Swiss-made alternative to Sellita and ETA, and it offers an excellent 68-hour power reserve at 28,800 vph.

Watch design has fairly clear boundaries if you want to make a model accessible and appealing. There are materials, shapes, and proportions that limit what can successfully be brought to market. Operating within those confines yet being able to create a watch as novel and refreshing as Kollokium has done is something that should impress everyone, whether they like the watch or not. The challenge now — beyond other editions of the Projekt 01 — is what comes next. Has Kollokium established a DNA with a single watch that it will use to create other watches? Or does the brand take the more challenging path of starting from first principles for whatever its second model may be? I’d love to see this same idea implemented in a chronograph or a dive watch, but I’m also intrigued with how the trio might approach those horological archetypes without the constraints of an existing design language. Either way, Kollokium is onto something and I’ll be watching.

The Kollokium Projekt 01 in this iteration was limited to 99 pieces reserved almost exclusively for “friends and family” of the brand. Those are long gone, but the brand wasn’t started to make a one-off watch and close up shop. Kollokium will launch “Variant B,” seen above, in the first half of May. It will be the same watch with lume that glows blue instead of orange, and a fully lumed white seconds hand. The Kollokium Projekt 01 is priced at CHF 2,666.66, and the Variant B is will be priced the same but limited to 199 pieces. For more information, please visit the Kollokium website.

A very special thanks to @beans_and_bezels for loaning the Kollokium Projekt 01 for review.


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