Hands-On: the Horage Supersede, Powered by the K2 Micro-Rotor Caliber

New movements get me excited. That sounds weird, let me try again. New calibers pique my horological curiosity. Better. Ok, when Horage announced the K2 caliber a few years ago, I was pretty blown away by their claims. A fully novel micro-rotor design at 2.9mm thick (base), with 72 hours of power reserve, silicon hairspring and escapement, chronometer-level accuracy, and “approachable” pricing? Sounds like a dream come true. They also made it modular, allowing for easy customization with some complications while only increasing the movement’s thickness slightly.

At the announcement, Horage sought out eight brands to back the movement in a sort of B2B fundraising, which presumably succeeded*. Shortly thereafter Horage announced the first watch to feature the K2, the Supersede, under their own brand name. A showcase of their movement’s capabilities, as well as their own as a standalone watch brand, the Supersede featured a fully kitted out K2 complete with “true” GMT (more on that later), 24-hr hand, power reserve, and date, all within a less than 10mm thick case made out 904L steel. They had our attention.

*update: we have learned that Horage changed courses, and did not pursue the eight brand support

As always with Swiss luxury watches, the term “affordable” has to be taken with a grain of salt, but the clincher was that the Supersede, the watch described above, had a preorder price of 4500 CHF, and full retail of 6500 CHF (about $4,700 and $6,800 at time of writing). In comparison, the Hermes Slim d’Hermes, a three-hand Swiss-made micro-rotor with a Vaucher caliber starts at over $7k. So, not “affordable” in the common sense of the word, but in terms of the competition, and certainly value-packed considering the complications.


Hands-On: the Horage Supersede, Powered by the K2 Micro-Rotor Caliber

904L Steel
Horage K2 Caliber
Steel Bracelet
Water Resistance
39.5 x 46.2mm
Lug Width

Nearly a year has passed since first announced, and I am now typing with a Supersede (sample) on my wrist. There’s a lot to like about the watch, and some things don’t quite click for me either. But, it’s also a bit of an odd watch to review, because whether or not this specific model is exactly to my or your liking is a bit irrelevant when the star of the show is a new movement.

The Supersede was never really about the looks for me. That’s not what made me so interested in it in the first place, but it does have a fairly distinctive design that plays off of some current trends. It’s, more or less, an integrated bracelet, steel sports watch. I say more or less because the bracelet doesn’t connect directly to the case, like a Royal Oak, rather there is a 16mm lug-width, which in theory one could put a strap in. Horage has also developed rubber straps for this case, which is a nice plus for owners.

Measuring 39.5mm x 46.29mm x 9.45mm, it’s fairly compact, and certainly quite thin, also while maintaining a 200m water resistance. It’s an angular design with a flat top, curved sides, and faceted lugs. Well-executed brushing covers most of the surfaces, save some polished chamfers on the end of the lugs, adding some contrast. It’s easy to forget that the case is made of 904L steel, the alloy that Rolex is known to use. The differences between the two seem to come down mostly to increased corrosion resistance, and being non-magnetic. It’s also likely more expensive, and anecdotally, said to be harder to work with. Either way, nice bragging point.

The bezel dominates the case taking center stage from above. A tapering design, it’s solid steel with a pronounced grip pattern (akin to a Seiko Turtle, I noticed), and fully milled indexes. No paint, save a lume marker at 0/60, the bezel combines mirror polished with indented matte surfaces for contrast. The result is quite a bit more blingy than I personally prefer.

The size is really quite spot on, for a modern sports watch, in terms of diameter and length. It’s got presence, and enough space for both a dial and bezel, but isn’t oversized in any way. The thickness, however, is the show stopper. While not a feature of the movement, certainly a result of the micro-rotor design watches that are sub 10mm just feel different, especially if they are sporty. It obviously would slip under a cuff, but also has a low center of gravity, making it feel grounded in a way, riding close to your arm. It’s one of those things that just feels right. Like, this is how a watch should be.

The dial of the Supersede is, for lack of a better term, a bit basic. On the sample received, it’s plain white with glistening applied markers with lume fill, save at three where there is a date window. The markers are fairly complex in terms of facets, catching the light at every angle, adding to the sparkle-factor (I just made that up) of the watch. Black printed markers make up the seconds/minutes index in between.

At nine is a 24-hour sub-dial that is synced with the GMT/dual-time hand. It consists of a ring of marks for the hours, and a split black/white circle from 6 to 18 for day/night with oversized “24” and “12” numerals. As the only dense region of black on the dial, it draws a substantial amount of attention, yet doesn’t feel very important. It’s also oddly, small, and kind of under-designed or lacking character. Like I said in the intro, this watch is a showcase for the movement, so they likely included it for that purpose, yet I think the dial would have been cleaner without it.

There is also a very small power reserve at 12, just above the logo. The reserve index is a 180-degree arc sweeping from low on the left to full on the right, with the hand pointing upwards. I know dial side power-reserves have become somewhat controversial as of late, especially on automatics, but I do like it here. While it is also there just to show off the movement’s features, it feels like it is part of the logo, and is so subtly executed that it can be easily ignored for the sake of reading the time.

The local hour and minute hands are straight swords with a semi-skeletonized design and lume fill with a polished finish. They suit the modern if blingy, style of the watch. The GMT/dual-time hand is a bit of a surprise, however. Something I don’t typically love about GMTs is that the fourth hand tends to be oversized and loud compared to the other hands, thus standing out all the more. Yet, it’s generally not the hand that is needed for telling local time. For the Supersede, they took the opposite approach and made the fourth hand a sort of “shadow” of the hour hand.

It has the exact same size and shape as the hour, but is fully skeletonized and matte finished. At times, it quite literally disappears against the dial. Making it even more discreet, and fairly unique in the world of GMT/dual-time watches, it’s on a 12-hour rotation, not 24. As such, you can actually hide it under the local time hand when not needed, essentially turning the watch into a standard three-hander (I’ve only ever seen this on the Sinn 356 UTC).

This is as good of a segway into the movement as any, so let’s take a look at the real star of the show here. The K2 is a lot of things, and kind of quirky is one of them. It has a very impressive feature set, which was already mentioned, but really should be driven home. First, it is a thin, micro-rotor automatic movement. The base version with either central or sub-seconds is only 2.9mm thick. The version in the Supersede, with four additional complications, is 3.6mm thick. An ETA 2824 is 4.6mm thick, and the 2893 is 4.1mm, for comparison. This gets all the more impressive when factoring in a 72-hour power reserve. The silicon hairspring and escapement, free-sprung balance, and chronometer-achievable accuracy are cherries on top of this horological cake.

The K2 beats at an uncommon 3.5Hz / 25,200 beats per hour. It also hacks and hand-winds, as you’d expect. Looking at the movement, you’ll immediately appreciate that it doesn’t look like other movements you’ve come across. While I imagine when they supply them to third parties, the decorations and perhaps exact plate design might change to the brand’s specifications, the version seen here looks very modern. There are two large plates, a small plate, and a balance bridge filling out the space along with the micro-rotor.

The largest plate has Côtes de Genève, as well as Horage branding and a cutout showing the gear train. The smaller two plates feature a laser-etched (I assume) grid, for an unexpected texture. A large cutout shows the balance wheel spinning in its entirety, and a small cutout gives view of the silicon escape wheel. The rotor, which while “micro” is still a significant portion of the movement, sits in a pocket to the right side. There are two versions of the rotor, the standard is gold-plated tungsten (needed for added mass). The upsell, as seen on this sample, is 950 platinum, which would come with a 1,350 CHF premium. You know, for fancy rotor types.

Where things get a bit quirky are with how the GMT works. A “true” or local-jumping hour GMT is some sense, it’s also not quite like others I’ve ever encountered. Typically, with a “true”GMT, one would set it up such that the 24-hour hand is set to home time, and assuming one is home, the local hour hand would be set to the same (minutes as well, obviously). By virtue of being on 24-time, the fourth hand indicates AM/PM, which one can coordinate the local hand to. When traveling and crossing time zones, you generally put the crown in first position and turn it forward or backwards, jumping hour by hour as needed. You also set the date by sweeping the hour hand through 24-hour cycles.

On the K2, in first position, you can jump forwards, but not back, as that adjusts the date forwards… As does sweeping the hour hand past midnight. Since you can’t go backwards, this inhibits the convenience of the jump hour as, say, flying from NYC to SF will require sweeping around 21 hours, and resetting the date fully. Additionally, the 24-hr hand is tied to the home time, which makes sense as it’s essentially what you normally have on a GMT, just about the center.

Yet, something about having a 24-hour sub-dial hand that isn’t tied to your local time throws my head for a loop. Like, you can sweep past midnight, thus changing the date, while the 24-hour hand is in daytime. This might be more of an issue of being used to one thing than a practical issue, but it still feels odd to me. Perhaps if it were just the sub-dial hand, and not in addition to the 12-hour home time hand. Like I said, a bit quirky.

One last feature of the Supersede worth covering is the bracelet, and clasp in particular. The bracelet consists of a three link-design that fits the case to create an integrated look, thus it’s about 22mm at its widest point. It tapers down quickly, however, to 16mm, giving it a dramatic look I quite like. The links are fairly thin, and completely flat on top, save a polished bevel on the side. It’s a very lightweight and comfortable bracelet that flows nicely around the wrist. My one issue with it is that they use a pin and collar system for adjustment. Not a deal breaker, but not my favorite.

The clasp features a new and unique micro-adjustment design giving it 10, 1mm increments, which is a huge difference on the wrist. The mechanism itself is also very slick. Within the large, but not too-large clasp, is a spring-loaded contraption you simply push down on to release. While pressed, you can shorten or lengthen the bracelet as desired. Letting go will lock it in place. Essentially, you are just releasing a ratchet mechanism, which clears a set of saw-shaped teeth. It’s compact and functional. I’m truly starting to think that no modern bracelet should be without an on-the-fly micro-adjustment system.


Let’s wrap this up. The Horage Supersede is a pretty impressive watch in terms of its stats and features. You’re not going to find any other sub-10mm, 200m, true-ish GMTs out there. That it’s made of 904L steel, Swiss-made, has an in-house micro-rotor, chronometer-rated movement with a silicon hairspring and escapement yet is sub $7k, just makes it all the more impressive. It wears beautifully and is very nicely finished. It also has a great bracelet and micro-adjustment mechanism.

That said, for my tastes, I feel like it could use a touch of refinement. At times its attempts at being luxurious (shiny), and Swiss (the dial is a bit boring) undermine its functional chops. It just doesn’t seem quite like it knows what it wants to prove. Is it the ultimate adventure watch or a traditional Swiss luxury watch? Being a showcase for the K2 doesn’t help this either. Though a logical way to flaunt their legitimately impressive movement, as most movement brands don’t actually make watches under the same name, by saddling the Supersede up with every feature, it got a bit bloated and perhaps confused.

But, it is a showcase for that movement, and though I found the way that the GMT functioned to be a bit odd, otherwise it’s great. It’s thin. It’s full of features. It’s modern. It’s not another 2824 clone. And, most exciting of all, it is going to be used by other brands. That’s not a shot at Horage, but a movement like this is so full of potential that having different minds, designs, and concepts to show it off is incredibly exciting. We’ll have to wait and see where it ends up, but consider me eager to find out. Horage

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst 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.
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