The WULF Exo is marketed as a Swiss-made, skeleton dress watch, offered at an affordable price of just $523.50 USD (after promo code below). Let’s see if it’s any good!
WULF – the Brand
WULF was started in 2016 by Singaporean brothers James and Elijiah Woo. If their names seem familiar, it’s because they (or rather, the Woo family) founded and still manages H2 Hub, one of the the largest watch retailers in Singapore, as well as their other house brand, Aries Gold. By “combining their years of manufacturing know-how with detailed consumer behaviour analytics from their sales channels”, WULF was founded “to offer quality mechanical timepieces with avant-garde designs and personalisation options.”
Accordingly to WULF, all their watches are Swiss-Made to maintain a high standard of quality even at an affordable price. Although the design of the watches are conceived in Singapore, the movements are manufactured in Swisstech’s Route de Botyre Switzerland (an independent movement manufacturer), then fully assembled into a complete watch in their assembly facility in Centro Nord Sud Switzerland. All products are certified Swiss Made with a valid Certificate of Origin. As per the recent Swiss-Made laws, 69% of WULF’s manufacturing costs are incurred in Switzerland with all WULF watches powered by a Swiss movement, and all watches are assembled in Switzerland as well. For more information on WULF’s manufacturing process, one can watch their production video above!
Personally, I’m of the opinion that the “Swiss-Made” moniker is more marketing gimmick than substance – a watch doesn’t necessarily have to be manufactured in Switzerland for it to have great build quality. Terrific watches are produced in England, Germany, Japan, and even China nowadays! Yet, it is undeniable that many watch enthusiasts still lust after the “Swiss-made” title – I know of many who will not buy a non-Swiss watch. Perhaps today more than ever, the prestigious perception of “Swiss-Made” stands strong, heightened by the growing popularity and demand of Swiss watches from maisons such as Rolex, Omega, and Patek Philippe. While the WULF Exo is definitely not in the same league as the aforementioned brands, does it display some of the build quality and finishing that its more illustrious counterparts are known for? Let’s find out.
WULF Exo – Build Quality
For the price, I have to say that the build quality of the WULF Exo is pretty solid!
Firstly, the WULF Exo utilises a flat sapphire crystal. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. In addition, the WR rating for the Exo is 50M, which is adequate for most daily activities except swimming/showering.
The Exo is powered by WULF’s Calibre 02, which they describe as a “Swisstech re-engineered 26 Jewels Swiss Made Self-Winding Mechanical Movement with 42 hours of power reserve.” Beating at 21,600 bph, the skeletonised movement hacks and hand-winds. According to WULF, all watches are regulated to a 12 seconds +/- deviation before they leave the factory, in order to ensure the accuracy of the watch. That’s pretty comparable (or even marginally better) than the usual movements found in entry level Swiss Made watches, such as the ETA 2824, Sellita SW-200, and the STP 1-11. During everyday wear, I found the watch to be pretty accurate! However, I do wish that the movement beats at a higher rate. All the aforementioned Swiss movements beats at a higher 28,800 bph, resulting in a smoother sweep of the seconds hand.
The WULF Exo comes with a nice calf leather strap, complete with a butterfly clasp for that added dose of elegance. For the price, the strap is alright – it certainly doesn’t blow me away, but it is definitely a step above those found on their lower-end Aries Gold models, for example. On the wrist, the strap is supple and comfortable, with the inner lining feeling premium to the touch. The butterfly clasp locks into place pretty well too – no complaints there! Furthermore, the strap loops are stitched for greater durability, and the strap itself features quick-release pins for added convenience. My main knock of the strap is the quality of the leather – being merely “Genuine Leather”, the strap will not patina beautifully over time as a full-grain strap would.
The regular variants of the Exo do not possess lume, but there’s a limited edition variant of the Exo (pictured above) that does. With the limited edition variant, portions of the movement is coated with Super-Luminova to depict an image of a wolf. Yes, that’s right – the movement glows in the dark. I personally think that’s pretty cool, and it’s certainly not something commonly seen in affordable Swiss watches, or in more established Swiss brands! Kudos to WULF for the innovation, and offering something new. However, the luminous movement comes at a significant price premium – the limited edition variant of the Exo is $400 USD more expensive than the regular variant of the Exo. Would I pay $400 USD more (one could get an entire Swiss watch from Tissot/Hamilton for that amount) for what is ultimately a cool party trick? Probably not. Still, if you’re intrigued by the luminous movement, and have the cash to splash, why not?
Overall, the build quality of the WULF Exo is pretty decent for the price point. One gets sapphire crystal, a Swiss movement (albeit low-beat), and an alright strap. The main plus point of the Exo is, in my opinion, the regulated movement – a 12 seconds +/- deviation is significantly more accurate than the usual Swiss movements (unregulated) one sees in microbrand watches. In the event that something does go wrong with the watch, all WULF watches are backed by a 10 year warranty – now that’s unprecedented, even for established Swiss luxury brands!
WULF Exo – the Design
Apart from the regulated movement, the other main draw of the Exo is its skeletonised dial.
Now, finding a skeletonised dress watch for under $1K SGD is hard enough. Finding a Swiss-Made skeletonised dress watch for well under S$1K SGD? That’s near unheard of, but that’s what we find ourselves with regarding the WULF Exo. Certainly, the most standout feature of the Exo is its open, skeletonised dial. I have stated before in numerous reviews that I’m a huge fan of skeletonised watches – it transforms the movement from being a mere functional component to an aesthetic art piece. In this variant of the Exo, the movement is even IP-coated gold for added splendour – again, something not commonly seen in 3 figure skeletonised watches. I appreciate the metallic brushed silver elements on the lower left of the dial, which serves as a nice contrast (both in colour and texture) to the otherwise gold coloured movement.
Given that WULF positions themselves as “Swiss-Made”, I had high expectations for the finishing on the Exo. I must say, I was not disappointed. In particular, I was impressed by the differing finishing techniques present on the Exo – there’s metallic brushed finishing on the silver elements at the lower left side of the dial, sandblasted finishing on the main plate of the movement which are juxtaposed with polished sections, and nicely brushed hands to boot. It’s not Grand Seiko level, but as far as entry level Swiss watches go, I would say that the level of finishing is definitely better than skeletonised watches from Tissot or Hamilton.
Elsewhere, I like the layered structure of the dial. There’s the skeletonised portion, a minutes ring above it, a concentric layer above that whereby the indices are applied, and topped off with a marked chapter ring. In particular, I love the concentric texture layer – it adds another dimension of texture to the watch. However, I do wish that the applied indices were better finished. Upon a closer look, the indices come across as rather one dimensional, cheaply polished. I would have preferred the indices to exude a more 3D look, perhaps with chamfered edges. However, the applied indices do line up neatly with the printed minute pad – something that can’t be said for all microbrand watches.
Overall, I feel that the dial of the Exo is quite well executed. However, I do have a major knock against the dial – legibility. As the hands of the Exo are the same gold colour as the ip-coated skeletonised movement below, it can be hard to tell the time sometimes. Is it a deal breaker? Probably not, as let’s be honest – in the age of smartphones and fitbits, the role of watches as chiefly a time-telling machine has diminished. Nevertheless, there are other variants of the Exo whereby the hands are of a different colour than the movement, thus dramatically increasing legibility. Personally, the Rose Gold variant of the Exo would be my pick.
The case of the Exo has to be one of the best machined cases I’ve come across in a 3 figures watch to date. The case itself is nicely brushed, with polished chamfered edges along the lugs for added luxury. However, what really impressed me was the curvature of the case – I’m not sure if the photo above captures it, but the subtle curves of the case greatly enhances the elegance of the watch. The case is simply a thing of beauty! In addition, we also get a nicely etched crown. The crown itself is also proportionately sized, making hand-winding a breeze.
I always find that skeletonised watches feature the best looking casebacks (due to the fact that you can look through it), and the Exo does not disappoint. There’s even slight finishing contrast on the caseback (polished case, brushed caseback), which is a delight. I also find the CNC crafted custom rotor very attractive – undoubtedly one of the prettiest rotors I’ve encountered till date. In addition, WULF allows one to customise the caseback for an additional $20 USD. I’ll definitely opt for that, as I believe it makes the watch either more personal to oneself, or more meaningful when meant as a gift.
On the wrist, the 43mm dimensions of the Exo wears alright – it’s certainly not too big on my 7 inch wrist. However, given that dress watches are traditionally smaller in diameter, I do wish that the Exo was slightly smaller. Personally, 40mm, or at most 42mm, would have been perfect. At 43mm, it’s still alright, but definitely on the larger side of the spectrum. However, the watch is relatively slim at just 11.25mm thick, and thus should have no problems fitting under a shirt cuff.
All in all, I have to say the Exo’s finishing is pretty impressive. The skeletonised movement is well-finished, and the case is absolutely a treat. While this yellow gold Exo doesn’t have the best legibility, one can simply opt for another colourway with better legibility, such as the Rose Gold. If 43mm isn’t too big for you, I believe that the Exo is a pretty good option for those looking for an affordable Swiss-made skeletonised dress watch.
Shootout: WULF Exo vs Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic
Like I said earlier, it’s near impossible to find a Swiss-made skeletonised dress watch for under S$1000. I’ve searched high and low on the net, and the closest I found (on the grey market!) is the Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic, priced at ~S$1015.
In terms of specifications, both watches are pretty much neck to neck. Both watches utilises sapphire crystal, features a Swiss movement, and possesses 50M WR rating. If I were to nitpick, the Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic probably would have a slight edge, simply because its H20-S movement beats at a higher frequency (28,800) compared to the Swisstech movement WULF uses (21,600), which would result in a smoother sweep of the seconds hand on the Hamilton. However, given that the Swisstech movements are regulated, the WULF Exo’s movement might be slightly more accurate than the H20-S movement found in the Jazzmaster Viewmatic.
From an aesthetic perspective, I personally prefer the look of the Exo over the Jazzmaster Viewmaster. Firstly, I find the finishing on the Exo (movement, case, etc) on a higher level than the Jazzmaster Viewmaster. Secondly, the Exo features a fully skeletonised dial, allowing one to view the ip-coated movement in its full splendour – the Jazzmaster Viewmaster on the other hand is merely partially skeletonised. Lastly, the WULF Exo also comes across as more layered, possessing more depth, as compared to the Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmaster. However, the Hamilton does wear better as a dress watch at 40mm wide, which makes the WULF relatively bulky in comparison at 43mm. Nevertheless, unless the dimensions of the Exo is out of your comfort zone, I have to say the Exo probably takes the win in the design department.
Where the WULF Exo really triumphs over the Hamilton Jazzmaster Viewmatic is in its value. At just $523 USD, it’s significantly cheaper than the grey market price of the Hamilton. In fact, the MSRP of the Hamilton is $1195 USD – the WULF Exo would be half the price, if we are comparing to the Hamilton’s actual retail price. As such, the WULF Exo is definitely the better value proposition, and thus emerges as the winner in this shootout.
Conclusion – so the WULF Exo “shiok” or not?
For the price, I would say so. The WULF Exo is a fully skeletonised Swiss-Made dress watch for well under S$1000 – that value proposition is hard to beat. The mechanical movement is well finished and a joy to look at, the dial of the watch is layered, the curvature of the case is simply brilliant, and there’s a 10 year warranty to top things off. It’s not perfect – there are some legibility issues on some colourways, the applied indices could be better defined, and the watch is on the larger side at 43mm – but at just $523.50 USD (after promo code below), the WULF Exo is definitely bang-for-buck.
For those interested, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will grant readers not only a whooping 25% off all WULF watches, but also a free watch winder! After the discount, the WULF Exo (and a watch winder!) can be had for just $523 USD/~S$719! A Swiss-Made skeletonised watch and a watch winder for just ~S$700? Sign me up.
View the entire WULF collection here.
Movement Core: Wulf Calibre 02 – Swisstech re-engineered 26 Jewels Swiss Made Self-Winding Mechanical Movement with 42 hours of power reserve
Movement Type: 3 Hands Skeleton
Timing Tolerence: -15/+15 seconds per day.
Water Resistance: 5atm (50 meter) that safely protects your watch from contact with water
Strap: Handcrafted Calf Leather fitted with Butterfly Buckle to secure your watch within seconds
Sapphire Glass: More durable than mineral glass, keep your watch glass scratch-free
Case Diameter: 43 mm
Case Thickness: 11.15mm
Weight: 89 grams
Warranty: 10 years warranty on the mechanical movement Packaging: Leather box with embossed Wulf logo to make this a perfect gift
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!