Hi guys, and welcome to another Singaporean watch review! This Sunday, I’m reviewing something a bit special – a customised, vintage-inspired piece from Undone. I previously reviewed the customisable Aqua from Undone, which you can read about here.
With the Undone Urban Vintage line, Undone seeks to provide iconic vintage designs at a low price, while not skimping on its USP (unique selling point) – customisation. Is this watch engineered to the same high standards as the Undone Aqua was? Let’s find out!
Undone – the Brand
I have previously covered Undone as a brand here. In that article, I covered Undone’s philosophy, as well as my opinion on the customisation process. If you’re interested in the Undone brand (and you should be – I find their brand story riveting), do check out the above article!
Undone Urban Vintage – Build Quality
The Undone Urban, at only $239 USD/ ~S$315 (after promo code below) is Undone’s lowest priced offering. Let’s see how it fares!
While the Undone Aqua utilised AR-coated sapphire crystal, the Undone Urban Vintage features hardened domed K1 crystal instead. Undoubtedly, the lack of sapphire crystal was one of the corners cut to maintain the Urban Vintage’s low price point. As stated in my previous reviews, I almost always advocate for the use of sapphire crystal in watches due to its high scratch-resistance. Undone would probably say that the choice of a domed K1 crystal is to stay true to the vintage character of the watch, given that most vintage watches that served as design inspiration featured acrylic crystal. In reality, I find that a domed or boxed-shaped sapphire crystal achieves the same vintage effect – I definitely see this more as a cost-saving move rather than a nod to historical accuracy. However, I do understand where Undone is coming from. Undone is offering a customisable mecha-quartz chronograph at only $239 USD/ ~S$315 (after promo code below) – the Reverie GT that I reviewed previously here (mecha-quartz chronograph with sapphire crystal) is $385 USD/~S$505 (after promo code found in the “Discounts!” section)! At the price that the Undone Urban Vintage is at, I’m okay with the use of hardened domed K1 crystal. I just wished there was an option for an upgrade to sapphire crystal – I would gladly pay a bit more for the enhanced resilience that sapphire crystal brings.
For those uninitiated with mecha-quartz movements, a mecha-quartz movement basically allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds – the accuracy of a quartz movement (which also negates the need to wind the watch), and also the sweeping second hand that’s characteristic of a mechanical chronograph. With the Seiko VK61 movement, you get hacking second hands, as well as the capability to instantly reset the chronograph by pressing the bottom pusher. However, despite Undone’s claims otherwise, it is not a flyback chronograph. While the second hand can be instantly reset (without needing to be paused first), the second hand does not continue timing thereafter like a flyback chronograph should. I believe this is an inaccuracy on Undone’s part, and would advise them to correct this on their website. However, If you’re looking for a fully mechanical flyback chronograph, you will need to look at 4 figure price-points, probably something from Longines or Baume & Mercier. In addition, while most brands offer mecha-quartz chronograph at around the $400-$500 USD price point, Undone is offering a customisable mecha-quartz chronograph at just $239 USD/ ~S$315 (after the promo code below) – astounding value for money in my opinion!
When customising your Undone Urban Vintage, you get to choose from a myriad of strap options, including calf, cordura, perlon, rally, and alligator printed leather. I went with the calf leather as I felt it complemented the vintage aesthetics of the Urban Vintage the best. When the watch arrived, the quality of the strap took me by surprise. The strap feels fantastic, and is apparently hand-made! At the very least, one can tell that the stitching on the strap is hand-stitched. As seen in the photo above, there’s this distressed quality to the strap (which wasn’t obvious in the customiser) that really adds to the vintage vibe of the watch. In addition, the strap features quick-release spring bars as well, so you can change your straps in a jiffy without any tools. Along with the strap of my Straits Foundry watch, this has to be one of the best straps I’ve experienced so far in this price range – one can tell that Undone has put in effort to ensure that the vintage aesthetics of the dial extends towards the strap as well!
Overall, I’m highly impressed by the build quality of the Undone Urban Vintage. At a mere $239 USD/ ~S$315 (after promo code below), the fact that Undone can offer a customisable mecha-quartz chronograph with such a quality strap is astounding. As aforementioned, the only critique I have would be an option to upgrade to sapphire crystal in the customiser.
Undone Urban Vintage – Design
Given that I was the one that “designed” this particular piece using Undone’s customiser, I’ll share with you my design thought process, as well as touch upon the inherent design elements in the Undone Urban Vintage!
For the Undone Urban Vintage series, Undone took inspiration from 5 of the most iconic dials in watchmaking history: the Breitling Navitimer, Rolex Dato Compax ‘Jean Claude Killy’, Heuer Autavia, Rolex Daytona ‘Paul Newman’ and Omega Speedmaster. Out of the 5 designs reworked by Undone, I found the “Killy” most compelling, and chose it. For the case, I picked yellow gold to strengthen the vintage vibe of the watch. In keeping with the case color, I stuck to the yellow brick road and chose the hands to be yellow gold as well. As for the seconds hand, I picked red to serve as a contrasting color to yellow gold, and at the same time to complement the red telemeter scale that’s on the dial. Overall, I think that my dial customisations turned out quite well, and accented the vintage styling of the “Killy” dial! In addition, Undone allows customers the option to personalise text of their choice on the dial. I chose to have the words “Be true” engraved at the 3 o’clock of the watch. Currently, I’m at a crossroad in my life – having recently ORD-ed from military service and awaiting university enrollment, sometimes it seems as if I have the weight of my future in my hands. At such a pivotal time of one’s life, one tends to be influenced and swayed by the advice and expectations of friends, family, and society in general. I wanted the words to serve as a reminder to “Be true” to myself – to my passions, beliefs, and feelings as I progress to the next stage of my life.
I love the clean aesthetics of the “Killy” dial – there’s balance and symmetry in the design. Paying homage to the Rolex Dato Compax of old, the dial is in the historically accurate off-white color. The font, too, is inspired by vintage Killys, with the iconic “8” of vintage Rolex Dato Compax dials being implemented here. Similarly, the sub-dials of the Undone “Killy” are slightly recessed, just as the old Killys were. Comparing the dial of the 1950s Rolex Dato Compax “Killy” to the Undone “Killy”, it is clear to me that Undone has paid close attention to detail in a bid to stay historically accurate to the iconic design of old. Yet, this isn’t a homage by any means – Undone’s “Killy”, while sharing design similarities to the vintage Rolex Dato Compax, remains distinct in styling. To me, Undone has managed to navigate a tricky nuance here – they have managed to pay homage to their design inspirations, but create something different in the process. Many have tried and failed at this task – kudos to Undone here!
In keeping with the vintage styling, the two pushers on the side of the Undone “Killy” are pronounced – again reminiscent of the 1950s Rolex Dato Compax it took inspiration from. The crown is nicely signed and grooved as well. I’m also impressed by the contrast in finishing on the case-side. I’m not sure if it’s evident from the photo above, but the middle strip where the pushers and crown are located on is brushed-finished, whereas the stepped bezel is polished to a gleam. Similarly, the sides of the lugs are brushed finished as well. I appreciate that Undone took the effort to ensure that there’s some level of contrast to the finishing of the case!
On the topic of contrast, I want to point that while the side of the lugs are brushed finished, the front is polished! The eventual effect is that when the Undone Urban Vintage is viewed from the front, the watch gleams due to the polished finishing – when viewed from the side however, the watch looks matte due to the brushed sides. I think this is a wise move on their part, as a fully polished yellow gold watch case would probably be too much bling, and may come across as tacky. In addition, the bezel is stepped as well. Combined with the domed K1 crystal, the stepped bezel adds depth to the watch and gives it more presence.
For the caseback, Undone offers customers the option of having it either open or closed. I opted for a closed caseback, as honestly I didn’t see the point of having a exhibition caseback for a mecha-quartz movement – what’s there to see? Whichever option you choose however, you get to personalise the caseback either with either an image or text of your choice. In this instance, I decided to have the last lines of my favourite poem (Invictus, by William Ernest Henley) inscribed at the back. Similar to the “Be true” text I’ve chosen to engrave on the dial, I meant for the quote to be a reminder that my fate (and success) lies in my own hands, and that it was up to me to pursue my calling to the best of my abilities. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the quote turned out – I love the cursive script of the text! Somehow, it really complemented the vibe of Invictus.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with my Undone Urban Vintage “Killy. When I first showed the watch to my photographer, he thought that the watch has to be worth at least 4 figures, given its looks and customisation features. To be utterly honest, I actually enjoy this watch even more than the Undone Aqua, despite it being half the price of its older sibling!
Shootout: Undone Urban Vintage vs Revolo Chronograph
Only a few watch companies offer customisable chronographs in their lineup, with Revolo being one of them. As such, they are the natural competition to the Undone Urban Vintage in today’s shootout.
Even though the Revolo chronograph is more than double the price of the Undone Urban Vintage, I would say that the build quality on the Undone Urban Vintage is actually slightly better! While the Revolo chronograph does utilize sapphire crystal with AR coating, the Undone Urban Vintage features a Seiko mecha-quartz movement as compared to a Swiss Ronda one in the Revolo chronograph. As such, the Undone Urban Vintage is capable of a sweeping second hand when the chronograph is started, unlike the Revolo chronograph where the second hand ticks like a traditional quartz movement does. Furthermore, the second hand on the Undone Urban Vintage can be instantly reset, while on the Revolo chronograph it has to be paused first before resetting. In addition, I believe that the straps on the Undone Urban Vintage are superior to those on the Revolo chronograph. The strap on the Undone Urban Vintage is hand-made, feels like quality on the wrist, matches the vintage aesthetics of the watch, and features quick-release spring bars. In contrast, Revolo states on their website that their straps are made of “Top quality genuine leather”, which ironically does not inspire confidence in me about their strap quality at all – we know that “genuine leather” is the lowest grade of leather available (as compared to top grain, full grain leather etc).
Also, I find the design of the Undone Urban Vintage much more compelling than the Revolo chronograph. As aforementioned, it is evident that Undone has poured effort in reworking the iconic designs of old – these can be seen in the little details, from the font to the slightly recessed sub-dials. In contrast, I feel that the designs of the Revolo chronographs are rather generic and more importantly, lack soul. In terms of customisation options, I would say that there are both adequate amount of choices offered by both companies, though Undone allows you to personalise both the dial and the caseback, while Revolo only allows you to personalise the caseback.
In terms of value, it’s a definite no brainer. At only $239 USD/~S$315 (after promo code below), it is less than half the price of the Revolo chronograph in rose gold. As such, due to its better specifications, design, and value, the Undone Urban Vintage is the clear winner for me in this shootout.
Conclusion – so the Undone Urban Vintage “shiok” or not?
Without a doubt, yes. It is one of the review pieces that I’ve worn the most so far, which is a testament to its appeal as I really have chalked up quite a few review pieces to date! The inherent looks of the Undone Urban Vintage is so alluring that the personalisation options are actually mere icing on the cake. At just $239 USD/~S$315 (after promo code below), it would already have been good value for a mecha-quartz chronograph – but throw in the customisation/personalisation options, and the Undone Urban Vintage becomes a steal. Do note however that personlisation options comes at an extra cost.
If you’re inclined to get yourself one after reading this review, simply use the code “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout on their web-store to get 10% off store-wide! Undone manages to combine my love for vintage styling and personalisation here flawlessly – this is one watch that I’ll probably never sell.
- Case Size: 40mm diameter excluding crown, 13mm thick
- Case Material: 316L stainless steel
- Case Finish: Brushed and Polished
- Caseback: see-through exhibition glass or solid engraved
- Coating: black pvd, silver, yellow gold, rose gold
- Bezel: stepped
- Crystal: domed K1 hardened with enhanced scratch resistance
- Water Resistance: 30 Meters / 3ATM
- Movement: Seiko SII VK61 Hybrid, quartz timing module, mechanical flyback chronograph
- Functions: Small seconds hand, 60 minutes timer, mechanical flyback reset, telemeter, tachymeter
- Straps: Genuine leather strap with vintage finishing
- Lug width: 20mm
- Lug to lug: 47mm
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
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Nigel Gomes, @the_lone_cadre