What defines the “haute” aesthetic? Is it complexity? Is it elegance? Is it a use of surprising materials and finishes? Is it all and yet none of the above? Probably, but you know it when you see it. Within the modern haute independent brands, there has definitely been a move towards open dials with layers of materials often emphasizing the unique and ultimately more important mechanics within. Looking at brands like Arnold & Son, MB&F, and Urwerk, to name but a few, you have a sense of that contemporary, ornate style. Sure, there are also brands like F.P. Journe, Moser and Laurent Ferrier that go classic and understated, but we’re not talking about those for now.
In the realm of accessibly priced micro-brands, there have been a small handful of brands that have tried to emulate this aesthetic, though had to do so while lacking the in-house mechanical counterpart. Seven Friday was the first, to my knowledge, to really push this concept. The watches were huge, and featured tons of layers and an astounding mix of finishes on both the case and dial. Following them REC came out with their P-51, featuring a dial made of reclaimed Ford Mustang metal with an off-center layout and unique case. While these watches were very different from one another, they did share a few commonalities. First, they both used Miyota movements, emphasizing complications to add to the intricacy of the designs. Second, and perhaps more importantly, they were both designed by Studio Divine, a Swiss design house that specializes in watches of this aesthetic.
The newest brand to both work with Studio Divine and try for this “haute” aesthetic is Klynt, but they are doing so with one significant twist, the watch is Swiss Made and features a Swiss movement. Banking on the idea that Swiss is better (not saying it isn’t, but not saying it is either), Klynt is adding value in the form of Swiss prestige to the watch. Inside, the Klynt EC (Elegance Contemporaine ) is packing a Sellita SW 290, which is the SW 200 automatic with a sub-seconds dial at 9 rather than central seconds. Through their Kickstarter the watch, which is available in four versions, has a starting price of $990, which is decent for the package. After their campaign the prices will go up to $1600 – $2000, finishing depending, putting it up against some stiff competition. I’ve spent sometime with the rose gold version, and here are my thoughts.