Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire's weekly column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world since March 2020.
Undone watches got its start in 2014 with something of a novel idea, and an approach to watchmaking that had never really been tried by conventional watchmakers. Basically, it was up to you. An online configuration engine allowed you to pick and choose from a comprehensive range of variables down to metal, dial, hands, and straps, to name just a few, meaning that—if you had the patience—you could extrapolate hundreds of possible permutations.
Seven years on, the brand’s website also presents dozens of ready-made editions for those for whom that much choice is anxiety-producing. Some of them are vintage in inspiration, others are more closely—sometimes too closely, perhaps—reminiscent of specific famous watches. But that alternative “customize” button on each allows you to steer these watches in another direction altogether with a few deft tweaks. Snoots will snoot about basic Seiko movements and the homagey vibe of some, but that rather misses the point of Undone. Undone was conceived to be fun, and, more importantly, a fully immersive experience that put the creative power firmly in the hands of its customers.
Alongside the fun, Undone has also leveraged its popularity with a growing community and built a series of collab watches with a diverse bunch of partners from Popeye to Batman and even the Moomins. The latest to emerge is a tie-up with New Jersey-born streetwear designer and entrepreneur, Jeff Staple. Watch collabs with streetwear designers are a thing at the very high end of the market, but it’s relatively uncommon at Undone’s prices.
Staple’s iconic pigeon logo appears in a yin and yang pattern on the stylized black-and-white California dial (half Arabic numerals and half simple markers). The case is black PVD-coated steel while the red transparent case back (with clear pigeon silhouette) shows off the automatic NH35A self-winding movement. Three versions exist: one with a matching PVD steel bracelet and a bonus branded NATO strap (it has, sadly, already sold out), one with black calf leather, and one with a black nylon NATO strap. You can’t customize these ones. But then, why would you?
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