In the last years, we have seen a lot of minimal watch designs hitting the Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Seems that there are 2-3 these style companies launched every month. And people keep buying them. I mean, how many thin, minimalistic, two-handed watches can we really handle? But when I saw Von Doren with the same characteristics, I don’t mind seeing something like that!
So the Von Doren is a Kickstarter-funded company. They managed to get 275% funded with over 550 000,- NOK, which just shows that not all the hope is lost for good quality minimal pieces. The company is based in Norway. The main mind behind this is Øyvind Von Doren Asbjørnsen a Norwegian filmmaker. And with the help of Liss Ann, their designer the Von Doren Timepieces were born.
For me, the Von Doren is all about that vintage style. I really like those all 30s-60s dress watches, but they don’t appeal to me because it isn’t simple to service here in Latvia. We only have a couple of watchmakers who would take this job and the cost of that kind of service would be big. So this is perfect Vintage styled dress watch that you can take to your any local watch service and change the battery every 2-3years and spend a very small amount of money for the 5min job. I also like that the watches have Limited run. Basically, 480 pieces will only be made.
How did I found out about them? Well, I found them first on some micro brand Instagram account who shares many micro brand pictures. When I checked their Instagram and website and wanted to get my hands on one for a review. So I contacted the company and they gave me one piece for the review so you guys can enjoy this 🙂
The watch arrived in this super cool, lacquer finished wooden box. It opens with a push of a button. The box is made really good. Inside the box is lined with leather. The box is signed with the Von Doren logo. Inside the box, you will find a watch and a pretty cool, in my opinion, warranty card. It is made in aluminium I guess. A cool thing to add to the limited run of these watches. First impressions were that it really has these vintage style cues like thick domed crystal, thin case and the minimalistic dial. Really reminds 30-60 dress watches. I also like the AR coating on the crystal, because it has this blue/purple glow which adds something modern to a vintage-style watch.
So the case is shape is round and minimal. It is made from 316L stainless steel which has some polished gold colour plating on it. The plating seems to be done very well and seems that if you have some light scratches the stainless steel won’t see through. The case diameter is 42mm, the thickness is 11mm, lug to lug 48mm and lug width is 20mm. Despite the rather big size for a classic looking dress watch, it wears a bit smaller on a wrist because of how the lugs go down. The case back is in stainless steel too, but it hasn’t got the gold plating, it is just polished. Strange that they didn’t do it in the same colour, as it would match it a little better. On the case back, you will find the specifications, logo and also the unique watch number you have out of the 480 they made. The piece we got here is 204. On the 3 o’clock we have a signed crown. It isn’t a screw down, but we don’t expect that from dress watch so that’s why the watch is only 5ATM or 50m water resistant. It is still enough to withstand a rain or hand wash. But nothing more. On top of the case of, course sits this very thick and domed sapphire crystal with AR coating and anti-scratch surface. The crystal is really the thing I like in this watch. It is just like the crystals on older vintage dress watches. The case design and the vintage styling really works with this piece.
The dial is simple but done with style. The dial is curved, just like the old vintage pieces had. The dial is in white colour, but in different lights, it evens looks like a light silver colour. The hour markers are marked with lines, the 12,3,6,9 o’clock has double lines. On the 6 o’clock you have writing “Swiss Movement” which I think is not needed there. and on 12 o’clock we have the Von Doren logo, which is actually pretty good and doesn’t ruin the dial. Many brands sometimes make these great designs, but the logo ruins it all, but this time it is done right in the both, design and logo. The hour and minute hands are simple, at first I thought they were skeleton hands, but later in the day, I discovered they had a lume applied on them. That was a pleasant surprise, as I really wasn’t expecting lume on dressy vintage styled watch. The lume is pretty strong too. The second’s hand as just a line. But I think they should make it a bit longer and curve the end of the hand to match the design of the dial. It would look thousand times better. Of course it looks good without it, but personally, I would like that curved second hand to finish the design perfectly.
I discovered they had a lume applied on them. That was a pleasant surprise, as I really wasn’t expecting lume on dressy vintage styled watch. The lume is pretty strong too. The second’s hand as just a line. But I think they should make it a bit longer and curve the end of the hand to match the design of the dial. It would look thousand times better. Of course it looks good without it, but personally, I would like that curved second hand to finish the design perfectly. I read some reviews on this watch from other watch guys and they all said that the dial needed some improvements to make it more interesting. I think not, the idea was to make a minimal watch. I think they did it right. The dial need to be simple, it’s the main idea is to look dressy and tell time!
The movement inside this watch is a Swiss made quartz workhorse Ronda Powertech 5 series. Ronda movements are reliable a well built. The battery life I think is 3 years in these movements. The plus side of quartz, of course, is the accuracy, low cost of maintenance as it only needs a battery change once in 3 years. Of course putting in a Miyota automatic movement or some ETA movement would be cool, but the watch would be much thicker with the Miyota and with the ETA the price would be much higher. The strap is made from handcrafted Italian leather. It is dark brown with crocodile pattern on the strap. It has some shine to it, but it doesn’t feel cheap. But I really don’t like this kind of straps, I think it makes the watch look cheap. I really don’t like crocodile, lizard straps on dressy watches. I think plain colour leather with no pattern or suede strap or even some crazy colour leather would be a better option. The strap has also built in the quick release spring bars, which are quite handy when you want to swap straps.
Overall I think the watch is a great looking, but a bit pricey. On Kickstarter, you could get it at 248$, but now the price has risen up to 500$ which is a lot for a quartz watch from Kickstarter which is pretty minimal. For that money, you could get Orient Bambino or Seiko Cocktail or if you look carefully you can snag yourself a Tissot or something good. But of course those watches are popular, so that means everyone has them. But these are only 480 made in the world so you will have a unique piece. So it is your decision, is it worth paying 500$ for the uniqueness of this watch?
They have a couple of watches coming later this year. The Grandmaster MARK II which has the STP5–15 Swiss made an automatic movement. It is a pretty interesting piece with an open heart dial. The MARK I was given to the worlds strongest chess players at Norway Chess. The second watch they have coming is lady’s watch called Jotunheim Lady.
- Watch case: Stainless steel 316L. 6 mm + Screwback case 2 mm (8mm total)
- Glass: Domed sapphire crystal, anti-scratch surface and AR coating inside
- Water resistant: 5 ATM, 50 meters
- Luminous: Luminous hour and minute hand (glows when dark)
- Strap size: 20 mm, best fit for 14 – 23 cm wrist
- Watch diameter: 42 mm
- Movement: Swiss made, Ronda Powertech 5 series
- Straps: Italian handcrafted leather
- Warranty: 10 years limited warranty against manufacturing defects
- Strap colours: Brown sandalo, Dark brown, and Black