Minimalism in watchmaking is like the harmonica: easy to pick up, but extremely difficult to master. With that in mind, while the trend of minimal or “Bauhaus-inspired” watches continues to grow, the ones that really perfect the style naturally rise to the top. German brand Defakto have proven themselves to be a prime example of this, with a robust lineup of pared-down designs with just enough distinct flavor to set them apart. Their newest watch, the Vektor, continues this trend in the subtlest way yet.In terms of case design, the Defakto Vektor takes the same attitude as a sashimi chef—less is more, but the preparation and quality of the ingredients is everything. The lugs are wide-set, gently curving, and polished to a brilliant sheen on top, while the dial takes up the entire 39mm diameter of the case leaving it effectively without a bezel. From the side, this polishing is contrasted by a strong, even brushing, which is in turn broken up by the polished pillbox crown at three o’clock. This may all seem rather straightforward, but the case side has a trick up its sleeve—its thinness. From the domed plexiglass to the open case back offering a view of the movement within, the Vektor measures just 9.8mm thick.
The dial of the Vektor, on the other hand, is a textbook example of the importance of fine detail in a minimal design. On paper, I could see the Vektor being compared to the classic no-numeral Junghans Max Bill. Both feature sterile text work, a thinly-printed minutes track with longer lines for the hours, and narrow stick hands without counterweights.In practice, however, these are completely different. The minutes track is longer and ever-so-slightly bolder, while the stick hands are rounded, without lume and quite a ways thicker. These minor adjustments end up completely changing the feel of the dial. While the Max Bill design feels airy and refined, there’s something brutal—almost industrial—about the Defakto Vektor, quelling the instinct to compare the two. There’s more of a purposeful, aggressive gauge-like feel here, especially in the eye-catching black/white/red variant. Other than that, the other noteworthy item here is the hand-bent hands and domed dial, an old school touch that makes the Vektor seem even thinner on the wrist.
Beating inside this attractive package is a stalwart workhorse—the venerable Miyota 9015. There’s a reason these things are ubiquitous, and having one here in the Vektor is a reliable, cost-efficient option. The rotor is completely unadorned, and other than some basic Côtes de Genève, so is the rest of the movement. An interesting choice with a display back, but by no means a deal breaker.
The Vektor’s strap options are interesting as well, if only because they’re both stitch-free and black. The Vektor can either be had with a plush looking matte black or high-gloss black patent leather strap—very Bauhaus. That said, the simplicity of the Vektor could lend itself to all kinds of strap choices, from suede to a Milanese mesh to a whole rainbow of perlon. As far as wearability goes, the 39 millimeter size and overall slim profile should make this an easy one for just about every wrist. What’s more, part of the beauty of these restrained designs is they can shine equally well in the boardroom, the bar, and the backyard—no formality problems here. All in all, it’s a fascinating riff on a classic theme, and at $620 it’s a solidly priced one as well. Defakto