If you’ve browsed any tech sites, or the rest of the Internet for that matter, in the last year you probably heard about Kickstarter.com; the fund-your-dream-project by crowd-sourced capital that has made lots of waves due to its immense success. And if you’ve heard that much, then you probably heard about Scott Wilson, MNML and the LunaTik, or the first project that raked in nearly a million dollars in funds.
As the first big success from Kickstarter, it demonstrated not only the power in crowd sourcing, but also the power of a good idea, brought to attention of consumers at the right moment. The LunaTik is a series of iPod Nano (6th and 7th gen) accessories that are based around the simple idea of wearing a Nano on your wrist, watch-style.
And this is where worn&wound’s interest in the matter really begins. When the current model Nanos first hit the market the collective nerd in most of us thought: put in on a strap! The Nano would become this sort of über-digital watch that surpassed the function of typical digitals, such as stopwatch modes, weather and so on, and enter into the lifestyle accessory genre. Not a new idea unto itself, but what the Nano had going for it was a format that was tried and true, and that almost everyone has some familiarity with. The question that remained was simply one of execution. The LunaTik line’s anodized aluminum cases addressed the conversion to a watch elegantly, while adding some robust protection and quality straps. Essentially, with the skills of an experienced product designer, they took the “put a strap on it” call very seriously, and created a successful solution. The first two releases were the TikTok, which featured a snap fit case, and the LunaTik, a two-piece screw together model. Based on the success of those two models, they released a metal-bracelet version, called the LYNK and in a slight departure, a secondary quartz-watch module, called the AnTik.
The nice folks over at MNML/LunaTik provided us with samples of the LYNK Blackout and AnTik Gamma/Black to check out. Starting with the LYNK, my immediate thought when seeing it was, “wow, that’s a lot of bracelet”. At 28mm lug width, the bracelet looks like stealthy plate-armor. Each rectangular link is an uninterrupted field of black with an apparently simple geometry that is bold but not ostentatious. Upon closer inspection, one sees that the links each have a subtle curvature that allow for a more ergonomic profile. And, as you look at this bracelet, a certain projection of the weight enters your head. I mean, sure it’s aluminum, but it’s fairly large, and my experience with watch bracelets tells me it will have some heft. Nope. Feather light. And this is really where you get the sense of a designer’s mind behind the bracelet.
The construction of the LYNK is very innovative and unlike anything I’ve personally seen in a bracelet. The links themselves are not solid blocks, but rather U-shaped pieces, still a few mills thick, that are joined together by silicone connectors. The end result really isn’t a metal bracelet, it is a hybrid of rubber and metal that offers benefits of both strap types. First, the rubber and aluminum, as I said, combine to weigh next to nothing. Yet, the construction isn’t lacking in quality, it’s just the alchemy of these two materials. The end result wears easier than any other metal bracelet I have tried. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the heft of steel as well, but this opens my eyes to an alternative that could be very useful in hot weather or during physical exertion. Frankly, I am surprised that there aren’t whole brands of dive straps dedicated to this type of construction.
The underside of silicone connectors does a couple other interesting things; it creates a softer surface for resting against one’s skin and it allows for the metal topside to have a simpler look, as each rectangle of aluminum is uninterrupted. Most importantly, it’s just comfortable. The whole package, with a Nano installed, is fairly massive and though the width of the Nano frame is only 40mm, the wrist presence of the LYNK is greater than any watch I have tried. Simply put, it’s a thick matte black stripe going around your wrist, and when the screen of the Nano is off, the uninterrupted black is very dense. The styling is certainly oriented to the sporty and trendy culture that the Nano itself is marketed to, but with a distinctive product design edge. It is really fascinating how a metal bracelet to an industrial designer ends up being very different than a metal bracelet to a watch designer. At $139.95, this ought to be one special bracelet, and I think that has been achieved. Sure the accessory is rivaling the cost of the product it supports, but for a dedicated crowd I imagine this would bring your Nano to the next level.
This brings to mind perhaps the most obvious question about the LunaTik line of Nano accessories, which is simply, what do you do when the Nano inevitably changes? Apple is notorious for planned obsolescence, heck, it’s part of their business plan. So, any Apple accessory has the potential to become a useless piece of metal or plastic, destined for a recycling (hopefully) plant. Enter the AnTik quartz-watch module. Though this “rescue me from obsolescence” mentality isn’t portrayed on the LunaTik site, I can’t help but think that it played part in the design. Naturally, it also adds greater value to an existing LunaTik product, and could potentially draw in its own customers who are interested in a modular quartz watch.
The AnTik Gamma in black is a remarkably satisfying little timepiece. Looking at it purely from a watch perspective, it offers stylish aesthetic features and a high build quality that are not commonly found at $69.95. Of course, the strap is sold separately so that price is a bit deceptive, but if you have the strap already then I see it as a really great deal. The form factor of the unit is clearly and necessarily based on the Nano. As such it is a 37mm x 40mm square unit with two fully rounded sides and two completely flat sides. Mounted on the back is plate on top of two standoffs, which act a substitute for the clip on the Nano. This is necessary for mounting on the LunaTik and LYNK straps, as they slide into that area for security. Similarly, the hardened mineral crystal lens is top mounted to the case, which at first glance seems strange, but when it is mounted in the LYNK makes total sense as it meets up with the internal chamfer on the mounting frame. The case itself is made of machined aluminum, is very sturdy and has a reassuring weight to it. The black PVD, or perhaps anodized, coating is deep and even, and has just the right amount of sheen to it. The push/pull crown is small in diameter, but has a nice machined textured to it, making it easy to grab.
The dial is the real winner for me though. It features a matte black face with cut-through markings. I am a huge fan of cut-through dials as they can add a lot of texture and depth to a simple design, which is what is achieved with the AnTik. Ultimately, the dial is super simple, featuring large 12, 3, 6, and 9 markers, and then simple rectangles for the other hours. The only words on the dial are “LunaTik” and “30 Meters”. The font used on the numerals is harshly geometric, featuring only horizontal and vertical lines. As the primary visual element of the dial, it sets the tone, which is definitely on the masculine side, but has a playful 80’s sci-fi feel as well. The background plate is a typical lume green and does in fact glow, though not terribly bright. It’s a nice departure from the watch face featured on the Nano, and is simply well done and easy to read. A Japanese 2-hand movement powers the watch, so the face is very still. The hands are simple rectangles with lume stripes, which glow stronger than the background plate. The other styles of the AnTik, the Ember and Shadow, have different dials. The Ember is soft where the Gamma is linear, featuring a font reminiscent of a typical Panerai and a background of bright orange. The Shadow is black on black, and seems to be gloss black markings on a matte black face, rather than a cut-through.
The combined Gamma/LYNK watch is very dark and bold. The harsh geometry of the dial markings emphasizes the simple geometries of the LYNK, and the light green of the background plate shines out from its matte black surroundings like the green type of old computer monitors. It wears quite large and is certainly a watch people will notice. Aesthetically, and because of its large size, I could imagine this being at home on the wrist of a typical Nixon, Vestal or G Shock wearer, that is to say young, probably male and somewhat athletic. That being said, I’d personally like to see the AnTik worn as a pendant, the lack of lugs makes it feel like a standalone object, so it could hang with out looking out of place.
by Zach Weiss