When a watch is reduced to only the most basic of design vocabulary, one of a few things tends to happen. They can be stark and cold, like something spit out by a machine. Structural and graphic as though complimenting more the architecture around a person than the person themselves… Or sometimes, they can just be a breath of fresh air. Stock Watches are the latter. With watches that are stripped down to little more than line and tone, Stock has managed to create a blissfully minimal line that have a surprising amount of charm.
A quick glance at the S001, Stock’s first series, might bring to mind the watches of Max Bill, Braun and Uniform Wares. With simple cylindrical cases, straight lugs, clean dials and stick hands they clearly all share a Bauhaus aesthetic, Max Bill of course being largely the source. Though similar, there are details of the S001’s that give them a unique character, such as the 36mm case design and subtle dial coloring, and they happen to be the most affordable. At $180 AUD (about $160 US) these Ronda Quartz powered watches offer a lot of style for the money.
Case: St Steel / PVD
Movement: Ronda 763 Quartz
Lens: Mineral Crystal
Water Res.: 30M
Dimensions: 36 x 43mm
Thickness: 8 mm
Lug Width: 18 mm
Crown: 4 mm
Warranty: 2 year
Price: $180 AUD (about $160)
Some watches styles are best suited to smaller designs and Stock nailed it with their 36 x 43 x 8mm case. Though small, through clever design they maximized the dial real estate, giving it a real edge-to-edge look that keeps the watch from feeling or looking tiny. Looking straight down at the watch, the case appears to be a straight cylinder, but from the side one can see that the case tapers inward starting just above the lug. By doing this, the case at the top edge is incredibly thin, measuring under 1mm thin. It’s a subtle design detail, but speaks to the level of thought that was put into the watches.
Most of the other details of the case are straightforward. The lugs are thin and straight, coming off at a slight downward angle for ergonomics’ sake. The crown at 3 is a 4mm diameter cylinder with no texture. And the case back is a flat, sunken panel with 6 flat head screws and a few details about the watch in the center.
Depending on the style/color of S001 chosen, the case will either be brushed steel or black PVD. In brushed steel, the case is clean, simple and a touch raw. The brushing is very light, so the steel looks almost unfinished, but in a good way. The PVD is applied over matte steel, for a dense flat black. It’s applied well and gives the case a bit more of a stark look, though perhaps obscures the geometry a bit.
Dial and Hands
The dial of the S001 line is, as said before, a well balanced take on the minimal, Bauhaus inspired style. Consisting of little more than matte surface and pencil thin lines, the design is elegant, restrained and perfectly proportioned. The primary index consists solely of long and short lines for the hours and minutes respectively. The only thing that breaks that up is a small circle over a horizontal line at 12, which is the “O” from the Stock logo. This is the first time ever that I’ve seen a brand logo worked into the index that not was inoffensive; it actually made things more interesting. It’s small and quirky, yet works with the minimal language.
The S001 series comes in 3 different flavors that although based on the same layout, have distinct personalities:
The S001K is the most modern and playful. Inside the PVD case is a black dial with charcoal grey markers, matching minute and hour hands, and a bright yellow seconds hand. Though a bit tricky to read given the low contrast, the shock of yellow brings the watch to life.
The S001W is a touch more formal, with a PVD case, white dial, black markers, black hour and minutes hands and a green seconds hand. The classic combo of black and white is clean and highly legible, making this very easy to wear. The green seconds, while not nearly as shocking as the yellow, adds a fun twist to the otherwise sterile dial.
The S001B takes things in a more subtle direction. Featuring a brushed steel case, cream dial, charcoal markers, hours and minute hands, and an ochre seconds hand, there is something soft and a bit aged about it. The mix of colors, including the steel of the case, comes across as warm and pleasant, tempering the minimalist style. The charcoal markers and hands stand off of the cream dial well, making it very easy to read, while the ochre seconds hand adds color, but does not distract.
Straps and Wearability
The Stock S001’s come on very simple, clean leather straps. Black or brown, model depending, they are fairly thin, solid leather and completely free of stitching. The no-fuss style extends the minimal aesthetic of the case and dial and clearly suits the look. The leather itself is pretty nice, though I found the quality of the brown leather on the S001B to be nicer than the black leather of the other models. It’s a matte brown with a nice grain a bit of an oily pick-up effect that gives it great character.
On the wrist, the S001’s are a genuine pleasure. Simple, compact and graphic; they are as comfortable as they are attractive. The 36mm case, though small for a contemporary watch, wears extremely well, not feeling small at all. Had it been lugless, that might have been the case, but the bit of extra span granted by the lugs gives it just enough extra. It also seems larger thanks to the hair-thin bezel and edge-to-edge dial design.
When strapped on, the proportions of everything, from the dial to the lugs the bit of strap that sits on top of your wrist are in perfect harmony. It might seem trivial, as one would hope that all watches were designed as such, but there is nothing out of place, obtrusive or disruptive in the design. The minimal, Bauhaus design is executed with out a hitch, giving the watches a sense of refinement and style to spare.
The design of the S001s make them very versatile watches that are welcome with formal and casual attire. That said the three versions have distinct personalities that can be emphasized by wearing with different outfits. The S001K is modern and playful, yet dark and masculine. This lends it to perhaps a bit more sporty and aggressive attire; black jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt would do fine. Wear it to a gallery opening or post-punk concert. The S001W with its white and black dial, makes it more formal and serious. Pair it with grey slacks, a white shirt with a light pattern and black leather shoes. Wear this to work and prove that business attire can be stylish. The S001B is the most relaxed and subtle, channeling a bit of a vintage vibe. This one would look as at home with blue jeans and boat shoes as a grey suit with cap toes, so take your pick.
So often, when “value” is a key factor in the success of a watch, it’s based on components. In the case of the S001 by Stock, the value is in design and style. Nothing is off the shelf, everything is well thought out and aesthetically well executed. There is nothing to complain about in regards to the case, dial hands, straps and colors; it’s all in harmony. The 36mm size might be limiting to some, but it suits the watch perfectly and is more versatile than you might think.
The only slight drawback is the Ronda Quartz, which is a quality Swiss made movement, but a bit boring. As much as we’d like a mechanical version, the watch comes in at only around $160, which is fair for a package like this from a small brand. So, if clean and minimal is something you seek, (and I believe there is room for a watch like this in everyone’s collection) this a great option. At this price, it’s also a great gift for the new collector, recent grad, design inclined, girlfriend/boyfriend with a bare wrist, etc…
The one thing I’d like to see from Stock is a few more color options, namely with the brushed steel case. I was surprised by the lack of a steel and black dial option, but would also love to see grey dials and perhaps a color or two. Regardless, for a first watch, it’s quite a success and we look forward to seeing where this brand develops.
by Zach Weiss
Review units supplied by Stock Watches