Customization has always been a part of watch collecting. Be it the modding culture surrounding Seiko divers or the compulsion many of us share to swap out our straps, we’re always looking for ways to personalize our watches. In recent years, we’ve seen an uptick in brands focused on just that, offering their customers a breadth of options right out of the gate. Enter Undone, a watch startup geared to take that proposition to the next level.
Undone’s flagship model is the Aqua, a 45mm diver with a lug-to-lug height of 52mm. It’s a beefy watch, with large angular crown guards and shrouded lugs giving it more visual heft. Other specs include an octagonal screw down crown and a depth rating of 300 meters, an AR-coated sapphire crystal with an asymmetrical magnifier at 3 o’clock, and a 120-click unidirectional diver’s bezel. Powering the watch is Seiko’s entry-level NH35A caliber–a 24-jeweled automatic movement with hacking and 41 hours of power reserve–available with either a white or black date wheel.
Aesthetically, the Aqua pulls from a number of recognizable cues. The nearly sterile explorer-style dial and the Mercedes handset are two apparent references. There is also a K1 glass bezel insert styled after the Fifty Fathoms, and a ceramic insert based off the Yachtmaster. With that said, when playing with different configurations the results don’t come off as derivative, though some options, namely the Mercedes hands, do feel a bit incongruous with the case design.
Being a dive watch, the Aqua presents an ideal base for customization, with enough components to allow for what may seem like a nearly endless number of combinations. As of this writing, there are currently 6 cases finishes, 19 bezels, 22 dials, 33 hands, and 17 straps to choose from. You can even customize the case back and either have an image printed directly on the glass or text engraved along the solid case back. It’s an overwhelming number of choices to play with, and to that end Undone built a great customizer to help you visualize your watch. It really is one of the best I’ve ever encountered, so kudos to the Undone team for taking the time to create something so useful.
In terms of price, most models come in under $500. Outside of these built-in options, for a small fee Undone is also willing to work with customers on one-off projects such as custom-printed dials and personalized rotors. All Undone watches are made-to-order, so once your order goes in, the Undone team will hand-assemble and test your watch before sending it out the door.
The concept being put forth by Undone is a curious one, in that giving the consumer so many options can often be a double edged sword. Undone certainly isn’t the first brand to make customizability a cornerstone of their brand identity. Martenero, for example, offers a line of customizable watches as well. However, the big difference between the two brands is that Martenero offers a curated selection of options that don’t drastically change the overall aesthetic of their watches. In Undone’s case, two Aquas can look like entirely different watches depending on who designed them. Sure, there is potential to make something exceptionally cool, say a completely blacked out tactical Aqua. But there is also plenty of room for something totally garish. From a brand building perspective, this is potentially problematic. Ultimately, I think there is something to be said about buying a watch and paying for a design, and for companies like Undone that want to make customization a foundation of their business, I think they’d be better served offering a tighter catalogue of options so as not to dilute their own aesthetic.
Undone is slated to release two new models–a pilot’s chronograph dubbed the Hemisphere and a Genta-inspired three-hander called Terrain–with the first to come out some time in 2016.
To personalize your Undone watch, head over to the brand’s web store.