The Otus is an interesting proposition – it’s an automatic, skeletonised watch for well under S$100. It’s hard enough to find an automatic watch for under S$100 in the market these days – much less a skeletonised one! It’s one of those deals that seems almost too good to be true, so I contacted Klein Watches and they kindly sent one over to me for review.
Without further ado, let’s see if the watch is a steal, or a case of “too good to be true”!
Klein Watches – the Brand
According to the brand, Klein Watches was created because “…we were tired of the cookie cutter designs and mass produced minimalist watches that have flooded today’s market.” To Klein Watches, watches don’t simply just tell time, but should be a “statement” on the wrist. As one of the few pieces of jewelry that men wear in today’s modern world, Klein Watches seek to offer something different from the “… low quality mass produced minimalist watch every Joe around the corner is wearing”.
To be honest, I’m quite ambivalent about the brand story of Klein Watches. It seems to follow the same premise as other fashion watch brands, although I did appreciate that they didn’t use the triggering phrase “affordable luxury”. Their brand ethos focuses on eye-catching designs, and for the most part their watches – the Otus at least – are definitely intriguing at first sight.
Alright, let’s dive into this review!
Klein Otus – Build Quality
Given the Otus’ sub-S$100 price point, there were corners that were cut, but overall the specifications still punches above its price point.
The Klein Otus utilises hardened mineral glass to protect the dial. As compared with sapphire crystal, mineral glass is nowhere near as scratch-resistant, and if you’re not careful you will most certainly end up with scratches on the dial. That being said, it’s not paper – be careful with the watch, don’t walk into a doorknob, and it will be fine. Whilst I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches, I understand its exclusion here given the Otus’ S$90 price point. Most sub-S$100 watches – G-shock, Timex, Seiko, etc – utilises mineral crystal, and as a matter of fact I’ve personally not seen a two figure watch with sapphire crystal before. Elsewhere, the WR rating of the Klein Otus is stated to be 3 ATM, which means that you shouldn’t bring this one near the water for sure!
Perhaps the Otus’ strongest selling point, the watch actually comes with an automatic movement! Most sub-S$100 watches from “fashion brands” are quartz – Daniel Wellington, MVMT, Vincero, the Fifth, Plain Supplies, etc. If they do sell automatic watches, it’s at a much higher price point, such as the MVMT Arc Automatic, which is currently priced at a whooping S$499. Klein Watches tells me that the movement is a Seagull one, with 13 jewels, 12 hours of power reserve, beats at 21,600 bph, and is non-hacking. The 12 hours of power reserve looks to be a concern on paper, but in my experience with the Otus it never stopped running throughout the day, even when I wore it from day to night. A large part of this is because it’s automatic – if it was a manual winding movement, there would likely be power issues. The movement kept good time as well, and I never noticed any major time discrepancies. As I’ve only interacted with the watch for about a month, I can’t speak to the long term longevity of the movement, though there is a 12 months warranty from Klein Watches. I find the 12 months warranty sufficiently assuring – if the movement does fail after a year, it wouldn’t break the bank to simply purchase another one!
The Klein Otus comes default on a rubber strap. It looks and feels fairly generic, with the noticeable lack of a signed buckle. However, I have to say that it is really comfortable once you strap it on. On the sporty rubber strap, the Otus wears wonderfully, and it feels very light on the wrist. I actually wore the Otus on a couple of occasions during my tennis matches (usually I wear my G-shock) and I have to say, I can understand why Nadal loves wearing his RM on the court so much! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the Otus is comparable to a RM – nowhere close – but like a RM, the Klein Otus feels equally at home in a sporty environment as it does with a T-shirt and jeans. The strap also features quick-release spring bars for easy strap changes, which is convenient if you happen to have purchased an additional mesh strap (more on that below)!
Klein Watches also offer a stainless steel mesh strap on their web-store. In my opinion, it transforms the look of the Otus significantly, giving it a touch of pizzaz. The standard rubber strap, whilst very comfortable, does look a tad cheap, and the stainless steel mesh strap helps elevates the look of the watch. However, it is rather pricey at 25 Euros/ ~S$37 (after promo code below), and I’m not sure if I’ll fork out that much for an additional mesh strap. That being said, I definitely preferred wearing the Otus on the mesh strap when I’m not doing sports, so if you like the look of the Otus on the stainless steel mesh strap, go for it!
Overall, I’m impressed by the specifications of the Klein Otus. As compared to most of the alternatives at this price point, the Klein Otus shines due to its incorporation of an automatic movement.
Klein Otus – Design
While the mechanical nature of the Klein Otus endears the watch to watch enthusiasts (like me), Klein Watches is nevertheless still a “fashion” brand, with many consumers purchasing the Otus simply because they like its looks. I can’t say I fault them, given the avant garde nature of its design!
The most eye-catching aspect of the Klein Otus has to be its dial. Klein Watches said that it was sick of the “minimalist” dials that are commonly found in this sub-S$100 segment of the market, and decided to go in the opposite direction instead. I have to agree with the stylistic decision – the Otus is a breath of fresh air in the “fashion” segment of the market. I appreciate the level of depth of the dial, achieved through the skeletonisation of the dial as well as applied indices. Despite its complex look, it’s not gaudy or overcomplicated due to its adherence to a monochromatic colour scheme. It’s a dial that feels minimalist, industrial, and complex all at once.
Usually, affordable watches wilt under closer inspection, but the Klein Otus shines. Firstly, the applied indices are actually faceted, giving them greater dimension. It’s rare enough to find applied indices on sub-S$100 watches, but faceted indices are practically a mythical sighting at this price point. It’s a detail that I doubt most of Klein Watches’ target audience (millennials) would notice, but it’s a detail I appreciate as a watch enthusiast. I also appreciate the deliberate skeletonisation of the dial – it’s clear some designing has been done beforehand. A lot of affordable skeletonised watches – I’m looking at you, Thomas Earnshaw – simply cut and open up the dial, so I’m glad Klein Watches actually put some thought into its skeletonisation! The aesthetics personally remind me of spiderwebs, which I find intriguing. Again, it’s definitely an interesting design.
Moving on, the Klein Otus has a square case that differentiates the watch from the majority of affordable fashion watches – mostly round – in the market. To us watch enthusiasts, the case immediately brings to mind the iconic Patek Philippe Nautilus, which was designed by the one and only Gerald Genta. The finishing on the case follows that of the Nautilus as well, with a brushed bezel and contrasting polished case guards. I’m a bit amused by this, since the vast majority of Klein Watches’ millennial consumer base will likely have no idea what the Patek Philippe Nautilus is, despite it being the hottest watch on the market currently.
Despite the super low price tag, the crown of the Otus is signed, which is a nice surprise. It’s well-sized and grooved for better grip, making hand-winding the watch an ease. The case finishing is simple and lack the refinement of its more expensive peers, but at this price point I can’t really complain much.
The caseback is similarly simple as well, polished and with some basic information about the watch etched on it. It does feature an exhibition caseback for the wearer to peer at the mechanical marvel movement within, which is again a nice touch considering the Otus’ sub-S$100 price point and “fashion watch” branding. Hopefully, some of their consumers will be intrigued by the mechanical movement, and explore further into the horological world thereafter!
The Klein Otus is rather modestly sized (by today’s fashion watch standards) at 40mm wide, and as a result wears brilliantly on the wrist. It’s honestly a great size, and wears very similarly to my personal Ciga Design Watch. It is a tad thick at 15mm, but unless you’re planning on wearing the watch with a suit you needn’t worry.
All in all, I love the aesthetics of the Klein Otus. Not only does its skeletonised dial separate it from most of the cheap, minimalist fashion watches out there, the watch also possesses several nice details, such as applied faceted indices, contrasting polishing on the case, a signed crown, and an exhibition caseback that makes it punch way above its price point.
Shootout: Klein Otus vs Xiaomi Ciga Design Watch
If you’re looking for an affordable statement piece – more specifically, a square, skeletonised automatic – the only alternative I can think of is the Xiaomi Ciga Design Watch, which I personally own.
In terms of specifications, the Xiaomi Ciga Design Watch trumps the Klein Otus. Firstly, the Ciga Design Watch uses sapphire crystal, which is significantly more scratch-resistant then the hardened mineral glass used on the Otus. Secondly, although both watches uses Seagull movements, the Seagull movement used in the Ciga Design Watch boasts over 40 hours of power reserve, which again is substantially more than the paltry 12 hours on the Klein Otus.
From an aesthetics standpoint, it’s a much tougher call. Both watches clearly references two of the most popular watches currently – the Apple Watch, and the Patek Philippe Nautilus. Both watches have their strong points too, with Otus possessing an interestingly skeletonised dial, faceted applied indices and contrasting finishing, while the Ciga Design watch catches the eye with its see-through design.
Where the Klein Otus triumphs over the Ciga Design Watch is in its value – at S$89 (after promo code below), it’s less than half the price of the Ciga Design Watch. Whilst the Ciga Design Watch might have the better build quality, its S$200+ price tag might be too much for the millennial student, or too much for a Chinese watch from a watch enthusiast’s point of view. My opinion is this: the Ciga Design is the better watch overall, but if you’re unwilling to part with S$200+, the Klein Otus is an incredibly affordable alternative that offers a lot for less than half the price!
Conclusion – so the Klein Otus “shiok” or not?
Definitely so. It’s probably one of the most bang-for-buck watches I’ve reviewed thus far – it’s definitely one of the best watches you can get for under S$100. Sure, it’s ultimately still a fashion watch, but that doesn’t mean it should be looked at with scorn. In an interview with Teddy Baldassarre, the great Jean-Claude Biver said that the watch industry should be grateful to fashion brands like Daniel Wellington and MVMT – they are exposing the next generation to watches, and preparing the millennial generation for the horological world. Personally, my first watch was a Daniel Wellington, and look where I am in my watch journey today! I think the Klein Otus makes for a great first watch for the broke university student, or simply as a fun weekend watch for the enthusiast. It has an interesting design, is powered by an automatic movement, and is priced well under S$100 – what more can you ask for?
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will grant you a whooping 15% off all products on Klein Watches’ web-store! After the discount, the Klein Otus can be had for just 58 Euros/ ~S$89, which is a steal. Instead of an overpriced MVMT/DW watch, why not opt for the Klein Otus instead?
View Klein Watches’ full range of watches here.
Beats: 21,600bph with 13 Jewels
Case Size: 40mm
Case Thickness: 15mm
Movement: Custom KLEIN Automatic
Power Reserve: 12 Hours
Strap Size: 23cm
Water Resistance: 3 ATM
Winding: Automatic Self-Wind
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!