Hands-On With The Unexpected Watches Of Botta Design

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Some brands take a slightly different approach to time with the watches they produce. From Meistersinger, to Ressence, to Urwerk, there are watches that challenge our expectations of 3 hands and a 12 hour dial. For over 30 years now the German brand Botta has been working to “reinvent time” with clean, one-hand watches that, if anything, change the pacing of how we engage with a tool such as a watch. Rather than confronting the moment to moment, a Botta watch breaks the day into broad, manageable sections, with any ‘to-the-second’ stressors relegated to the back seat.

This concept is nothing new, of course, however Botta approaches it with a unique design sensibility that pairs borderline minimalist dials and cases with modern sterile typefaces and color schemes. The resulting watches are striking in appearance and in practice, and while they certainly won’t be for everyone, they represent something unique offered at a very approachable price point, which is always welcome in my book.

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$540

Hands-On With The Unexpected Watches Of Botta Design

Case
Titanium or Stainless Steel
Movement
Ronda Quartz or ETA 2893-2
Dial
Grey w/Orange or Green accents
Lume
None
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Leather, Rubber, Steel
Water Resistance
5 ATM
Dimensions
40×40; 45×41.5mm
Thickness
9.5mm
Lug Width
22mm
Crown
Push In
Warranty
2 Yrs
Price
$540

Botta offers an impressively broad catalog, featuring cases that range from 45mm to 40mm, automatic or quartz movements, and steel or titanium cases. Among their new models are variants of the Tres 24 and the Uno 24, each of which we’ve managed to get our hands on for some real world impressions. The concept of a 24 hour watch is simple enough to understand, but in practice, they require some slight cognitive recalibration. 

As the name suggests, the Uno 24 is a single hand that tracks time against a 24 hour dial. At 45mm this is a very large watch, but the case is nearly as curious as the dial. This is a very slim case at a mere 9.5mm in thickness, and features a very angular architecture to its undercarriage. The lugs are incorporated into the underside of the case, tucking neatly into a structure that runs end to end with the watch flipped over. 

The unusual case construction makes for a lug to lug measurement that’s actually less than the diameter, coming in at 41mm and 45mm respectively. This is a very flat watch, and the dial pushes right to the edge of the case, so while it may easily fit inside the wrist, the watch itself appears (and indeed wears), well, large.

The dial here is really what takes some getting used to, however. There is a single, very long, very thin, hand that moves imperceptibly around the dial once every 24 hours. The 12 o’clock hour sits where you’d expect it, at the top of the dial, but from there you’ll notice a 13, 14, etc with an 18 appearing at the usual 3 o’clock position, and a 0 at the usual 6 o’clock position. A dividing line runs horizontally across the dial, separating light and dark grey sections. This represents the day and night cycle experienced over 24 hours, and the hours correspond accordingly. 

The single thin hand gives the appearance of a medical gauge of some sort, reading off pressures as it goes. In reality, the hand tracks against hashes between each hour that represent 10 minute chunks of time, rather than the minutes and seconds we’re used to seeing. The net effect of all this is a watch that, in time, you don’t find yourself incessantly checking. You learn to glance at it a few times throughout the day for a rough idea of the time. This experience will be relaxing to some, and perhaps stressful to others who have become accustomed to operating to the minute, regardless of activity. 

If that concept is interesting to you, but you’d prefer a bit more precision in your day to day watch, the Tres 24 takes a step back toward the norm, without fully returning to it. The Tres 24 receives an hour and minute hand, and a small rotating seconds disc at the very center covering the hand stack. Time is still tracked against a 24 hour dial, however a minute hand is given a minute track printed on a sloped rehaut, allowing you to get a better handle on exactly where you are within the hour.

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The Tres 24 we were provided features a far more palatable 40mm case with the same geometric underside and tucked in lugs. The watch itself is very light on the wrist thanks to the titanium case and slim dimensions, however the watch is offered on a rather thick leather strap, making for a clunky experience in practice. A total of 6 strap options are available, including steel bracelets so your mileage may vary. 

Each of these watches are powered by Ronda quartz movements, though an ETA 2893-2 automatic variant is available only in the 45mm case. The power source feels a little irrelevant here but options are always a good idea. The minimal, grey aesthetic with small hits of color selectively applied to the rather unusual method of reading the time is the real draw with these watches. 

As a person that’s on the move a lot, with meetings to make, a kid with places to be, I need a minute hand to keep me on track. As much as I like the idea of a single hand 24 hour watch, in practice I found using it a bit more stressful than I’d like. With time, I’m sure I could make it work, and it might even pay dividends in the long run. As such, these watches become somewhat of a commitment to wear if you really want to enjoy the benefit they provide, which will be entirely subjective, of course. 

These Botta watches range in price from €448 (~$540) for a 40mm quartz model, to €1,740 (~$2,100) for the automatic. Botta.

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Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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