Defakto Kinetik Hands-On

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Simplicity is the hardest thing to pull off well. So as a driving philosophy for a brand, it’s pretty risky. Yet, Defakto, who we’ve followed since we started worn&wound, pursues it with every new design. A feat made more impressive when one considers that their vocabulary of forms consists of rectangles and lines in black or white. Yet, despite these self-imposed restrictions, Defakto has 5 unique watch lines, creating many different watches when taking finishing and dial color into account, and has one a German Design award for their efforts. Not too shabby.

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Last October, Dekafto announced their newest line, a 39mm 3-hand mechanical (their first to fit that description) named the Kinetik. The name clearly being inspired by the addition of an active seconds, giving the watch motion. Additionally, the design focuses on how things overlap and the shapes they create, but with their signature highly reduced vocabulary. Starting at $565 and going to just over $600, these German made minimalist watches feature ETA 2824-2’s making them a great value on top of something very unique.

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$565

Defakto Kinetik Hands-On

Case
PVD Steel
Movement
ETA 2824-2
Dial
Matte Black
Lume
N/A
Lens
Sapphire w/ AR
Strap
Leather
Water Resistance
50 m
Dimensions
39 x 45mm
Thickness
9.9mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
7 x 3 mm
Warranty
2 Years
Price
$565

Case

Defakto cases are unsurprisingly very simple and clean, with markedly good execution, as they are made in Pforzheim by the Ickler company. The Kinetik is their smallest watch to date, coming in at 39 x 45.3 x 9.9mm. Their previous mechanicals had all been 42mm, which wasn’t too big, but did leave me wondering how they would work in a smaller case. The 39mm design nails it. It fits well, and gives the dial more than enough space for their designs. In spec and design, it actually looks nearly identical to the Archimede 39mm Flieger, which would make sense as they are both part of the Ickler family of watches.

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As such, the case is very classic and Flieger like, with tapering lugs, slab sides and a decently thick bezel. The case is brushed all over, and in the case of the sample, PVD coated as well. The black over brushing has a nice sheen, giving it more of gun-metal color than a deep black. On the right side is Defakto’s wide, flat crown that measure 7.5 x 3mm. It’s a flat cylinder with coining for grip and no logo or signature. On another watch I might say it feels too plain, but here, with the over all minimal approach, the lack of an element looks right. It might have been distracting any other way.

Flipping the watch over, you have a display case back that shows off the ETA 2824-2. As with other Defaktos we’ve reviewed, the 2824-2 is not decorated at all, so it’s just pure, gray metal. While I don’t think one needs to see it here, with 2824’s becoming more and more scarce, it’s not a bad thing either. I suppose in keeping with the aesthetic, movement decoration would be overly ornate and thus not work. In the end, I think they could go with a solid case back too, and keep the whole case black or steel.

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Dial

Defakto’s first watch, the Eins, was a one-hander with minimal markings, making reading the exact time impossible. You more guessed within a 5 minute window. The Akkord then added to the minute precision, with a typical arrangement of markers. The Kinetik adds seconds, but removes reference points, almost teasing at accuracy.

The dial surface is matte black (also available in white) with two indexes in small white markers. The inner index is used for the hours, as well as to indicate five-minute intervals. The outer index is used for individual seconds and minutes. That’s it. Well, it does read Defakto at 12 as well, but no additional marking pertaining to time-telling, and certainly nothing extraneous or decorative. The lack of any longer or bolder markers at typical spots makes the dial almost disorienting, and a bit difficult to read.

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That said, they cleverly used skeletonized hands to help aid precisions. Both the hour and minute hands are thin outlines of rectangles. The hour is short and wide, the minute is thin and long. As the hands pass over marks, they appear within it. For the minutes, what happens is that the inner and outer index will coincide every five minutes, thus helping indicate the exact time. The seconds hand is then a thin stick that matches the width of the markers, blocking them out. Knowing the exact seconds is difficult, but also unnecessary in the scheme of things.

In the end, you have a very stark and somewhat cryptic dial. It’s pleasing to the eye, if you appreciate something very reductive, but if you’re looking for typical watch-type decor, you wont find it. With the black case, I really liked how the sparse use of markers, and thin outlined hands broke through the otherwise dark materials. The markers take on an almost celestial quality.

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Straps and Wearability

The Kinetik comes mounted on a 20mm, straight black strap with no stitching. It’s as minimal as a strap gets, creating a bold line around the wrist. The quality is good, as the strap is backed with a strong leather and the edges are all folded elegantly. My one issue is that the buckle was steel, rather than PVD, breaking the otherwise continuous field of black.

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On the wrist, the Kinetik wears very well. The 39mm case really fits ideally on my 7″ wrist. It’s big enough to have presence, but small enough to look appropriate. The 9.9mm height is great as well. The watch is very flat, adding to the comfort factor. Aesthetically, I really like the design. It’s weird without being too weird, and has a a nice modern style to it. As said, I also really like how black it is. I lack a PVD watch, but occasionally crave one, but many are too sporty. This doesn’t feel like it wants to be stealth or aggressive, it’s just dark, and kind of muted.

Conclusion

I very much enjoy watching Defakto grow and change over the years. They are one of the few brands with a very distinct and almost stubborn aesthetic that they stay true to. An aesthetic that is very divisive, focusing on line and form, contrast and proportions over legibility and performance. Some might consider that a sin, but it’s something that the watch world needs, and Defakto does a good job at it. More over, they manage to maintain a great price point, which never hurts.

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The Kinetik makes a lot of sense in their line up, offering something new, but staying true to form. I particularly like that it has scaled down to 39mm, which is a great size in general, but especially for a minimalist watch. By being fairly empty, the dial naturally feels a bit larger, so 39 comes across bigger than you’d think. I hope that some of their other models will be offered in 39 as well, as I could see those working very well too.

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Zach is the co-founder and Executive Editor of worn&wound. Before diving head first into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
wornandwound zsw
  • Roman K.

    Size, movement and price is on point if you’re in to minimalistic style. Great watch, keep up the good work Defakto!

  • Paco Loco

    I have one and I’m very pleased with it.
    It took me a while to work out what sort of strap I preferred it on though, and I tried a lot of options. In the end I discovered I prefer it on an all black nato (with PVD hardware).
    Something about the combination just works and it gives the watch a little bit more of a “utalitarian” feel (I guess that’s the straps military overtones). I’m not a big nato fan in general and don’t have one on any other watch, but here I love it.

  • error406

    I love minimalism (in general, not just watches), but I find Defakto boring and derivative. Might have something to do with the fact that I’m from Europe, I grew up with this style of design everywhere around me.

    It baffles me that they won a design award, because this is such a cliched interpretation of a minimalist clock face that it would get you laughed at in an industrial design academy.

    • Martin Lew

      Design academies and the design industry are very different things. It’s comparing theory to practice, most of the time of which they don’t cross over because of one thing. Money.
      One cross over, is that design academies are big business’s that make a lot of money from hopeful students. No wonder they’re laughing at students, they don’t need to care if ideas are good or bad, either way they get paid.

  • Curmudgeon

    I really admire nearly everything about this watch. The design is perfect: not too much of this or too little of that. It’s a glancer’s dream that doesn’t scream, “Hey, I’m wearing a cool watch!” Love the fact that there’s no date. Ideal size. Works with any situation – from black tie to black t-shirt. What’s got me scratching my head is the price. How did they manage to get it so low and include that “will work perfectly for the rest of your life” movement? What it actually means is that Defacto is not out to rape the watch-loving public! I only have two gripes. They shouldn’t have used an exhibition case back. That violates the design sense. And……..when I first saw the Kinetik name, I thought it was a Quartz watch ala Seiko.

  • 200 Fathoms

    Do not like this watch. The hour hand seems completely out of proportion and the hour markers on the dial are just odd. Love all their other watches, though.

    • Nelson

      I also think the hour hand seems out of proportion but I like the hands when they overlap.

      • 200 Fathoms

        I agree, but so much more effective in their Akkord where the minute hand was solid/narrower. Same effect.

        • Nelson

          Yup. More proportional

        • Nick B

          I believe the hour hand is fatter so that when the hour, minutes and seconds hands all line up, they outline each other. Without the hour hand being larger, the minutes hand wouldn’t be able to contain the seconds hand. See this photo: http://wornandwound.com/library/uploads/2015/10/KINETIK_5.jpg

          That said, I understand your point about the hour hand size.