Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean watch review! This Sunday, we will be reviewing the S1 Concept by homegrown microbrand Velthor.
Described as a “Genta-inspired design” that’s meant to be a “hybrid between a vintage style classic and a modern robust timepiece”, the S1 Concept is Velthor’s debut offering.
Velthor – the Brand
Velthor was founded in 2017 by Gulshan, who is also the founder of Spectre Time. Gulshan’s fascination with watches was first sparked when he bought himself his first automatic watch. The mechanical marvel of the movement within – the ticking of the pallet fork, the spinning of the rotor and the smooth sweeping seconds hand – captivated his mind. Eventually, he decided to design and create his own watch, a prototype of sorts. Then working as part of SIA’s (Singapore Airlines) cabin crew, he wore that watch at 35,000 feet, and received many inquiries from colleagues and passengers alike about where they could purchase the watch! Knowing that there was public interest in his designs prompted Gulshan to start his first watch label, Spectre Time, in 2015. He has since left his post as a cabin crew, and is now focusing on his watch labels full-time! This puts him in the minority of microbrand owners, many of whom still hold full-time jobs for financial security.
Gulshan’s debut model for Spectre, the Phantom Black, sold out in 2 weeks. After the roaring success of his initial offering, he started to wonder if he could “launch a new brand with a different style, something radical with different colour tones and schemes”. In Gulshan’s words, he wanted something “vintage, medieval, reminiscent of Viking styling” – it was in this direction that he proceeded to design Velthor’s debut timepiece, the S1 Concept.
I personally much prefer Velthor as a brand as compared to Spectre. I find Spectre’s design a tad too derivative, instantly reminiscent of luxury pieces such as the AP Royal Oak. The fact that they sell generic, quartz “fashion” watches does nothing to aid their cause as well. In contrast, the design language of Velthor seem bolder, more original.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the Velthor S1 Concept.
Velthor S1 Concept – Build Quality
Despite being both a debut watch and technically a “concept” watch, the build quality of the S1 Concept is actually decent!
Firstly, Velthor chose to utilise sapphire crystal on the S1 Concept. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Furthermore, the underside of the sapphire crystal is AR-coated, preventing the bulk of any possible nasty reflections. The WR rating on the S1 concept is stated as 5ATM/50M, which is surprisingly low given the fact that the S1 Concept features a screw-down crown and a screwed caseback. In fact, Gulshan regularly posts photos of himself wearing the S1 Concept (with the metal bracelet) to the pool, and it seems to have held up surprisingly well, so I think the WR rating is understated here.
The Miyota 9015 is probably one of my favourite “budget” movements out there, being generally seen as a more affordable alternative to the ETA 2824. It has a high beat rate of 4Hz (same as the ETA 2824), 42 hours of hour reserve, 24 Jewels, and features hacking seconds. While those make for nice stats, the real brilliance of the movement is in its thinness which allows Velthor to keep the S1 Concept slim and svelte at just 11.5mm. If you would like to know more about the movement, A Blog to Watch did an in-depth article about the Miyota 9000 series here. In addition, I would also like to point out that the movement is secured with friction pins instead of cheap plastic spacers, which is evident in its reassuring weight on the wrist. Lastly, the exhibition caseback is made of sapphire crystal as well, which is a plus!
To better its value proposition, the S1 Concept ships with 2 strap options – a sandblasted two tone stainless steel bracelet, and a genuine leather strap (seen above), both fitted with butterfly clasps. Interestingly, the default steel bracelet comes with drilled links, meaning that each link is individually attached via screws. This is a feature more commonly found in luxury watches. I’ve tried the prototype with the bracelet on (it’s currently on display at Watch Wonderland), and admittedly it is quite comfortable on the wrist and did not pull on my wrist hair. However, I don’t really like the look and feel of the bracelet, though admittedly this is subjective and a matter of personal taste. In my opinion, the sandblasted finishing of the bracelet makes the watch look and feel cheap, undermining the “luxury” feel that the S1 Concept is trying to convey. I definitely prefer the looks of the S1 Concept on the leather strap better, as I feel it best brings out the sporty nature of the watch, especially with the double red stitching. Unfortunately, while the leather strap looks good with the watch, the actual quality of the strap itself isn’t the best. Firstly, the leather is only of “Genuine Leather”, which is the lowest quality tier for leather. Instead, I would have loved for Velthor to have included a vegetable tanned, full-grain leather strap instead – this would certainly have been more in line with the “luxury” ethos of the watch. Secondly, the clasp can only be described as functional at best – this is something that founder Gulshan notes, and is working to improve on in the production models. In addition, Gulshan is also trying to incorporate quick-release spring bars with the straps, something I’m fervently in favour of. Due to the T-shaped spring bars on the S1 Concept, swapping out the strap with your standard springbar tool is not the easiest to achieve.
The S1 Concept utilizes “Asian” lume, as compared to your usual Swiss Superluminova. Undeniably a result of cost-cutting, the result is that the lume, while still perceptible, simply isn’t the strongest. It’s there if you need it, but don’t expect it to blow you away.
Overall though, I still think that the build quality is decent, given the usage of AR-coated sapphire crystal and a high beat, slim and accurate movement in the Miyota 9015. There are definitely room for improvements – the strap and clasp quality, as well as the weak lume being the main culprits – hopefully we see substantial improvements in future iterations!
Velthor S1 Concept – Design
Definitely, I think the main calling card for the S1 Concept is the originality of its design.
I like the multi-layered, textured design of the dial – visually, it makes for an intriguing design. The dial is made up of 2 layers – a sunburst, circular-brushed silver bottom layer, with a sandblasted, dark grey layer above. I love watches with depth and contrast in their designs, and the S1 Concept is no exception. I especially appreciated the layering at 12 o’clock (where the Velthor logo is applied), and with the date window at 3 o’clock. In addition, the use of a spear-shaped, red second hand adds a pop of colour to the otherwise monochromatic dial. Overall, the dial of the Velthor S1 Concept certainly has quite a few interesting details!
That being said, there are certain areas where I felt the design of the dial could have been improved. Firstly, and perhaps the biggest issue that gnawed at me, was the oversized trapezoidal markers at 12,3,6, and 9. While on first glance the use of the trapezoid markers make for a bold and sporty design (Seiko Monster-esque), the enlarged size of the trapezoidal markers obscure the printed minute track, making precise time-reading a hassle. For example, look at the area between 30-35 minutes – you will see that only 3 printed minute markers are visible, making telling exact time between 30-35 minutes impossible. I’m a little OCD, so this really nags at me. Furthermore, I would suggest perhaps putting a sub-dial of sorts at 9 o’clock to balance the dial out – in its current form, the empty space at 9 o’clock feels slightly conspicuous. Furthermore, while I understand shaping the second hand in the form of the spear, I would personally have preferred the pointed end of the hand (the head of the spear) indicating the seconds instead of acting as a counterweight. Lastly, I also think the minute hand is a tad too small and slender, especially considering the broad sword hour hands.
I like the black PVD bezel of the watch, as well as the polished, bevelled sides. I appreciate the cutouts at 3,6,9, and 12 as well. Combined, I think the bezel is smartly designed, as it heightens contrast through colour, depth, and finishing. If I could change something, it would be for the screws to be polished – it would have further heightened the contrast in texture, as well as add a touch of luxury to the watch. On the topic of the screws, they are functional – the bezel can actually be unscrewed to service the dial! Again, that’s not a feature commonly seen with microbrand watches. That being said, I have to admit that a part of me was still slightly disappointed to find out that the bezel is merely PVD-ed coated black. I wish it was some sort of exotic material – forged carbon, DLC-ed black Titanium, ceramic, etc. In my opinion, that would have given the bezel of the S1 concept a special touch, heightening the luxurious feel that the watch is supposed to exude.
There’s nothing specifically noteworthy about the case – it’s finished with a simple sandblasted finishing. The crown though, is intricately laser engraved. In fact, I think this is the nicest signed crown that I’ve come across to date! The details etched onto the crown evokes those of luxury brands like Raymond Weil – really nicely done.
I should also mention that the model I’m holding is a limited edition variant of the S1 Concept. The standard edition of the S1 Concept comes with a IP-coated gold rotor, while the limited edition version (pictured above) features a black rotor, limited to 100 pieces. I don’t think I’m a fan of this – to me, changing the rotor colour is not a significant enough differentiating factor to make this a “limited edition”. Elsewhere, the screwed-down caseback is adorned with several pieces of useful information, while the movement itself is decently decorated with Geneva stripes finishing.
Overall, I would say that the design of the S1 Concept is promising. There are some hits and a few misses, but I do think that Velthor is on the right path. At the very least, the originality of the design (even in its current unrefined state) manages to shine through. With a few tweaks and upgrades in future iterations, I think Velthor may have a diamond in the rough in their hands!
Shootout: Velthor S1 Concept vs Manchester Watch Works Iconik 4
I previously reviewed another Genta-inspired, sports watch in the Manchester Watch Works (MWW) Iconik 4. Given that both are around the same price point, I thought it makes sense pitting both against each other!
In terms of build quality, both watches are pretty close! Both watches feature sapphire crystal with AR-coating and the same Miyota 9015 movement. The Iconik 4 has the better lume (BGW9), while Velthor provides an additional leather strap (MWW doesn’t). Overall, there’s really little to choose from between the two in terms of specifications.
The main difference between the watches is the design. While both reference Genta as their inspiration, they look rather distinct from each other! The Iconik 4’s design is definitely more derivative, staying faithful to the iconic Genta watches (especially the APRO) to a greater extent. That being said, I’m not criticizing the Iconik 4 – as the name suggests, the watch belongs to MWW’s Iconik line, which comprises of homages to a variety of iconic watches. In contrast, the design language of the Velthor S1 is more original, though admittedly less refined than the Iconik 4. In addition, the Iconik 4 is perhaps best suited for dressy look, as compared to the S1 Concept which leans towards the sportier side. I know this sounds like a cop-out, but I’ll leave the winner up to you guys in this instance – do you prefer a refined homage dress piece, or a raw, original sports one?
Given that both watches are priced similarly at pre-order ($392 USD for the Iconik 4, $466 USD for the S1 Concept), ultimately deciding which watch is better will depend on your personal taste and needs!
Conclusion: so the Velthor S1 Concept “shiok” or not?
All in all, I think the S1 Concept is a watch with promise. Being both a debut and concept watch, there are some kinks and niggles, areas that can and probably should have been improved – but above all, the originality of the design shines through, and the vision of the watch is conveyed. There’s a sort of raw, unvarnished feel to the S1 Concept that makes it refreshing and honest – in many senses, the watch reminded me of early Gruppo Gamma/Zelos/Boldr watches. The watch is a bit rough around the edges, but I guess that’s part of the charm of microbrands!
For those intrigued by the design of the S1 Concept, the watch is currently on pre-order here. Remember to quote “WAHSOSHIOK” for 5% off pre-order price! After the discount, the S1 Concept can be had for $466 USD – if you are interested in getting yourself one, I doubt you would be able to find it cheaper anywhere else! As it was with Gruppo Gamma and Zelos, I think it would be very interesting to see how the design language of Velthor evolve in the future.
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
- 41mm Diameter
- 11.5mm Thickness
- 49mm Lug-to-Lug
- 316L Surgical Grade Stainless Steel
- PVD Coated Gray Case
- PVD Coated Gunmetal Bezel with Decorative Screws
- Sapphire Crystal with Anti-Reflective Coating
- Screw Down Crown with Etched Logo
- Exhibition Caseback with Sapphire Crystal
- Two Tone Removable Bracelet with Adjustable Screw Links
- 5ATM/50M Water Resistance
- Japanese Miyota Caliber 9015 Automatic
- 28,800 Beats Per Hour
- 24 Jewels
- 42 Hour Power Reserve
- Seconds Hand Hacking Function
- IP-Plated Gold Rotor with Logo
- Clockwise Winding Direction
- Circular Brushed Sunray Silver Inner Dial
- Wrinkle Textured Black Outer Dial
- Date Window at 3H
- Applied Logo at 12H
- Applied Index with Asian Lume
- Minute Markers
- Sword Inspired Hands with Asian Lume
- Red Inverted Arrow Seconds Hand