Review: The Defakto Transit is a Modern, Minimalist Watch From the Ickler Family

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Defakto is a small watch manufacture based out of Germany. Founded in 2009 by Raphael Ickler in Pforzheim, Defakto specializes in high quality, minimalist watches. If the Ickler name sounds familiar, it should. They’ve been precision machining watch cases and components out of the same city since 1924 and have several brands under their umbrella (most notably: Archimede). Defakto as a brand stands on its own, in part because Raphael has drawn from his family’s experience in the watchmaking world to create a reliable and well-built watch.

Today, we’re looking at the “Transit,” a model created to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the brand. This minimal design is easy to read and wear, with a strong dial:bezel ratio inside a slim 40mm case. The Transit’s design DNA is clearly cut from a similar cloth as the rest of the lineup, but when talking about minimalist design, it’s the little things that matter. Let’s take a closer look at all of the intricacies of Defakto’s Transit. First, some specs:

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$860

Review: The Defakto Transit is a Modern, Minimalist Watch From the Ickler Family

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
ETA 2824-2
Dial
Matte black convex dial
Lume
Indices, hands, and minute markings, Superluminova
Lens
Domed sapphire
Strap
German-made black leather
Water Resistance
3 atm (30m, 100ft.)
Dimensions
40mm x 45mm
Thickness
9.8mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Push/Pull
Warranty
Yes
Price
$860

Case

For a 40mm case, the one on the Transit wears smaller than its size suggests. That’s thanks to the comparatively short lug-to-lug distance of 45mm. This translates to small lugs, and positioned to angle down dramatically toward the wrist. The resulting effect is that your focus is drawn to the circular shape of the watch.

Running around the outside of the dial, there’s a small brushed bezel that slopes from the crystal to the side of the case. You’re left with a wide open dial with a small border surrounding it, making the Transit open, airy, and legible. On the right side of the case, you’ll find a small push down crown with deeply cut grooves in its surface that make winding and time-setting a breeze. 

Given the Ickler family’s 100 years of case making experience, it comes as little surprise that the case on the Transit is clean and sharp throughout. The design is simple, but executed well and I really like the finishing technique. While it’s probably easy to just call it a brushed case and walk away, there’s a bit more going on here when you look closer. There are at least five different brushed surfaces, all at different angles. On the bezel, the brushing pattern follows the circular shape of the bezel itself. The sides of the case both feature horizontal brushing, while the space in between the lugs is brushed vertically. On top of each lug, the brushing is vertical, and finally the flat surface of the crown features radial brushing. Each transitional surface is nice and sharp. As you rotate your wrist, you’ll notice the light playing off each surface in a different direction adding a subtle, yet interesting visual effect. 

Dial and Hands

A matte black, curved dial adorns the face of the Transit. The curve is gentle and hard to notice at first, especially under the curved sapphire. Upon closer inspection, you’ll notice that the long minutes hand features a curve at the edge as well. From the top-down, the hands and dial appear to be flat which go well with the minimalist design of the watch. The indices are made up of a series of Super-LumiNova-treated lines that feature a gently rounded edge. They’re actually more like long, flat ovals. There’s a longer oval at five-minute intervals with shorter ones in between. The rounded markers play well with the overall design of the watch. If they were squared off, the Transit’s dial would leave a different impression entirely. The rounded accents throughout counterbalance the sharp edges of the case and lugs with something softer, and I like the resulting effect.

Pointing to the time, there are three hands: white hands for the minutes and hours, and a contrasting red hand for the seconds. Mirroring the shape of the indices, each hand is a long thin rectangle with a rounded end. The minutes hand extends fairly far towards the edge of the dial, hitting about halfway through the minute marker scale. The hours hand is a fair bit shorter, falling just short of the inside of the longer hour markers. Finally, the red seconds hand is the longest of the bunch, reaching all the way to the outer edge of the dial. On a minimalist style watch, these small differences in details go a long way. The hand set on the Transit is balanced and easy to read — just how it should be. Another thing that jumped out at me is the base of the seconds hand. It sits at the top of the hand stack and is wide enough to cover the origination points of the hours and minutes hands. It’s another cool little detail that makes the Transit look that much cleaner. 

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All of the indices and hands are treated with Super-LumiNova, giving the Defakto a neon light-like vibe in the dark. The red seconds hand has a different color of lume, so in the dark conditions, the seconds hand still has a similar pop like it does in the light.

Worth noting is that there are two dial variants for Transit: Standard and Inkognito. The former has a logo, and the latter is without one.

Movement

Through the display case back, you’ll have the pleasure of watching an ETA 2824-2 beating away inside. The 2824-2 is a reliable Swiss-made movement that beats at 28,800bph, sending the red seconds hand around the dial with a smooth sweep. Defakto uses the stock movement, so there’s nothing too fancy to look at inside. There’s no date display on the watch, so the functionality is limited to telling the time. For a minimally designed three-hander, a workhorse movement like the ETA 2824-2 makes sense. There’s some basic info laser engraved around the ring surrounding the display back. Admittedly, the quality of the engraving could be better. The edges of the text are a little soft and it’s not very deep into the surface. 

Strap and Wearability

The Transit ships on a German-made black leather strap. It’s on the thinner side, but that doesn’t affect the overall quality and comfort of the strap, and the thinness complements the case well. I liked how the strap was comfortable to wear right out of the box with no breaking in. A matte black signed clasp (admittedly a weird choice as this watch isn’t black, but it leaves the strap looking very unassuming) keeps the watch secured to your wrist and two slim leather keeper loops will hold onto any extra strap you may have hanging around. I did throw the Transit on an ADPT strap in forest green with the red accent stitching in hopes to match the red seconds hand, but something about the whole look just felt off. Since the watch head is slim and svelte, it felt out of place with a beefy nylon strap. I much prefer the look on the included slim leather strap. If you were to swap out the strap, something slim and leather would probably be your best best. 

On the wrist, the Transit wears like it’s not even there. The 9.8mm case sits really close to the wrist, and I’ve found it to be very comfortable during daily wear, no matter what I happen to be doing. The Transit seems best suited for a mix of weekend and business casual office wear — the watch easily slips under a cuff, and the classic profile of the watch, with a silhouette curving from the top down, is inherently refined. I’m sure you could dress it up, but the playful indices and red seconds hand don’t exactly scream “formal” to me. However, I think that’s what I like the most about the Defakto. It’s unassuming, yet remains interesting when you take a closer look. The minimalist design is minimal without being too sparse. It really strikes a nice balance of being refined, classy, casual, and fun all at the same time. 

Conclusion

Defakto’s Transit is well-made, well-designed, and well-wearing. It’s also the winner of the German Design Award for 2020, pretty much for the reasons mentioned in the review. It’s a versatile little watch that sits slim on the wrist, and the rounded details throughout set it apart from other “stuffy” minimalist designs and bring something new to the table. I’ve enjoyed my time with the watch quite a bit. It’s my first extended test of a slim minimalist watch and the Transit has made me a convert. It’s nice to have something on your wrist that’s so effortless to wear. Defakto

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Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.