Eoniq Alster Custom (Review) + interview with the founder

When it comes to customizable watch companies, there weren’t a lot of them a couple of years ago, but Eoniq was one of the first companies to bring that customization to the microbrand watch world. And I really like that idea as you can make the watch your own. The Eoniq probably offers the most customization that you can do to a watch. They have about 6 models that you can customize (Navigator, Navigator S, Alster Customs, Pinot Blanc, Cortessse and Alster Lite.) even if you don’t want to customize the watch there are also some ready designs which are pretty good too, but I don’t know why wouldn’t you customize your own watch. The one we have here for the review is the Alster Custom.

The Eoniq watch company was founded in 2014 and had a crowdfunding campaign in 2016 on Indiegogo. The 60,000$ crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo hit its target in 1.5 hours and hit 200,000$ within the first week. At the end of the campaign they raised a whopping 466,693$ by 1551 backers which is incredible for a small unknown company! They must have done something right here! The founder of the company is Quinn Lai who in 2014 started to pursue his passion for making custom watches and I got to say, he did it!

So the customization process was very interesting and I probably spent 2 hours playing with the customizator. The customization process is quite easy too, I had one other watch custom made and it was really hard to operate as the webpage was throwing out an error and stuff, but here it was made easy to understand everything and it worked smoothly. So what can you customize? Well… a lot! Let’s start with the case, there are three options, a silver, gunmetal and rose gold colour cases. There are 24 strap options from leather to mesh and perlon straps. Hands can be customized too, we have four hour and minute hand colours and seven seconds hand colours. There are four dial colours white, black grey and blue and also each colour has 3 designs. There are aslo 17 dial layouts and 11 subdial layouts from to choose. You can also put your tet on the dial or image, but I just chose to put the Kaminsky Blog name on the dial just under the Eoniq logo, but when I experimented with the image adding to the dial, you really can go crazy with it. Also there are two custom rotor options, one is customizable, the other one is stock that comes with the movement. On the rotor I also chose to put the Kaminsky Blog name, but also there you can put image. So the customizations is really good! Here you can see the whole customization process:

When you actually finish your customization process and you order the watch, you will need to wait 4-5 weeks for it to be hand assembled and customized. So take that in mind when you order yours. Before we take a closer look at the watch let’s have a small chat with the founder of the company Quinn:

Introduce yourself?

I’m Quinn, founder of EONIQ. Brought up in HK, went to school in the states. Got some decent jobs, went for the career ladder for a while. Then I decided to pursue my passion approximately 4 years ago.

What started your watch passion?

I have always liked watches, and since youth I have been fascinated by how a mechanical watch work. Questions like “how come the watch doesn’t speed up as you wind it up” were always in my head. However, due to family background, I never had the luxury to spend on watches. Even after I got my McKinsey job, I still felt like it wasn’t right to spend much on hobby. So my own way of pursuing this hobby became finding components online, and making my own project watches. Occasionally I would sell those watches to cover my expense for this passion. This was before EONIQ.

What makes a good wristwatch for you?

I’d break it down to mainly 5 components:

  1. Technological innovation (in traditional watch making sense) such as material usage, complications, simple innovations for anti-shock or anti-magnetism capability.
  2. Craftsmanship quality. The quality of engraving, finishing, hand applied decorations, etc.
  3. Disciplined, tasteful design.
  4. Style and strap quality (I’m one of those guys who want my watch to match my fashion style, and not just a nice piece of artwork under a loupe).
  5. Brand/Model Legacy/Story.

I believe (and I hope) that most watches that stand the test of time exist because of someone’s persistence and effort to create something special. Whether it is a designer, or a watch smith, or even a very practical businessman trying to produce something for the military… most of these watches are worth appreciating because of the efforts put into the design and production. The key question is what we individually find important for ourselves. For example, brand legacy is something that I appreciate, but unfortunately I have yet to be able to afford. So now I put most of my time in appreciating stories behind microbrands and fine designs.

Why did you decide to make your own microbrand watch company?

A unique, fully personalized mechanical watch, before EONIQ, was not affordable. I wanted to bring something unique to those that can only afford a few hundred US for their watches. Additionally, DW, MVMT and brands alike are taking up too much of the market. It would suck if in the future when most people think watch, they think of sub $200 watches that are made with a $10 cost and have nearly no craftsmanship value. I want to bring a bit of watch making craftsmanship to the fashion watch crowd; so I needed an offering that will attract their attention, at the lower “affordable luxury” price point, and is made with watch craftsmanship in mind.

How much watches do you have in your personal collection? And maybe you could list them? 

I have over 30 watches that I made myself, lol. Different projects within and outside of EONIQ context, and they use movements from Swiss, skeletonized CAD plated Valjoux 7750 movements to China made Tourbillon, cases from German premium quality case to Bronze CNC-ed in China, dials that are mass produced to hand painted dial designed by a Hong Kong architect. If we are talking about watches from other manufacturers, not a lot… I had a few Seikos, a Luminox as I was intrigued about the tritium performance, had some microbrand pilots. I still have my first casio.

Who is your ideal customer?

Anyone who is looking for a custom made mechanical watch that’s in the affordable luxury segment. We have quite a follower base that loves unique looking customized skeleton watches. With our new introduction of SW200 movements, SuperLuminova custom dials and Aluminum Bronze case we are hoping to reach out to watch lovers as well.

Tell about what you like to do outside of watches. Where do you find inspiration for your work?

EONIQ is not a brand from rich 2nd generation who happen to be watch lovers, so have to say it is taking most of my time to keep EONIQ running (we did not have any investments or loans) haha. But outside of EONIQ these days I’ve been helping new startups and people looking into starting their own brand by sharing what we’ve learned on how to turn a hobby into a business. I hope people with passion can start something they like even when their family background “doesn’t allow” it.

How do you see Eoniq watch brand in the future?

So far the biggest impact I’m proud of with EONIQ, is how we’ve been able to produce timeless gifts that connect people, that reminds people of the relationships they have. Yes this is not very “watchy” or “oh this brand innovated on this material” but being able to make something meaningful gives me an amazing feeling that I cannot put words to. I just hope one day when people are considering a meaningful gift watch, they will consider EONIQ, and we can craft something they like.



So let’s start the review. The Eoniq Alister Custom came in a very nice ractangle cardboard box. Inisde the box you will find a leather wallet which I didn’t expect. The pouch is actually pretty good, signed with Eoniq logo and inside you have a place for your watch and a couple of straps. Inside the pouch you will find you watch, instructions and a warranty card. And surprisingly Eoniq added another strap for me so that is cool. I also have to thank Rebecca who is their marketing director for fast replies on emails and for adding that second strap 🙂 The first impressions were wow, I never had a watch with my surname on it + it I chose the design of the watch. I really like the size and the quality is very good!

The case is made of 316L stainless steel. The case is very well machined with sharp and precise lines. The case is round with small lugs that are straight and bent toward the wrist. The case diameter is 40mm, lug to lug it measures at 47,2mm, the thickness is 11,3mm and lug width is 20mm. So the size is very good and will fit almost 80% of wrists noth of men and women. Only recently I started to like small watches in sizes 38-40mm and this one fits my wrist just perfectly! The finishing is also done pretty good. It has a mix of brushed and polished surfaces. The lugs, case back and sides of the main case are brushed, but the bezel and the underside of the case and lugs are polished. The crown is placed at around 4:15 o’clock. The push-pull crown is small, but easy to grab. The awkward position makes the winding process a bit harder than usual, but it is doable. The exhibition case back is a screw in. The crystal on the case back is flat sapphire. Around the exhibition window, you will have some specifications engraved. On top of the case sits a slightly domed sapphire crystal with AR coating. The water resistance is 50m (5ATM) and that is normal for a semi-dress watch.

The dial I chose was the matte grey one. I think it looks cool plus I didn’t have a watch with a grey dial. Half of the hour markers are in arabic numerals and the other half is as stick markers. Around the dial we also have the minute track with arabic numbers on the outer line every 5 seconds. All the text and markers seem to be etched with a laser. The small seconds subdial is located at 6 o’clock and where the numbers are the surface has that circular pattern. The numbers on the subdial lack a bit of quality, but they are readable. They aren’t done so well I guess because of the laser etching and that uneven surface in that area. At 12 o’clock we have the Eoniq logo and under that we have the Kaminsky Blog writing. The stick shaped hour and minute hands are in blue colour, I don’t how they have been blued, but they look pretty good. The seconds hand on the subdial is in yellow and contrasts nicely with that grey dial and blue hour and minute hands.

Eoniq chose the Miyota 82S0 movement to power the Alster Custom. The movement beats at 21600 VPH, with 42 hours of power reserve. Unfortunately, the movement does not hack, though it does hand-wind. At this price point, the inclusion of the Miyota 82S0 movement is no surprise, as it is one of the only lower cost options to feature a sub-second dial. I’m usually not a fan of the Miyota 8 series movement due to the loud rotor. The accuracy on this one was around +15 to +17 seconds a day. You can also see on the case back that customized rotor with “Kaminsky Blog” laser etching.

The strap that I chose with the watch was the cream leather strap with stitching, but Eoniq also gave me another leather strap in black with vintage stitching. Both the straps are great quality for the price. They feel like really comfortable on the wrist and they also are very supple. The stitching is very well done too. The tang style buckles are also their own design, and they don’t look like taken from a bin of parts. The buckles are signed with Eoniq logo. The straps also have those quick release spring bars which make the strap change a matter of seconds.

Overall I really like the watch and the customization process was very interesting, even after I finished this review I went to the customizator on their website and made a couple of more designs, haha. The price for mne was 428$ but I customized it on fullest, if you take out the custom rotor, it is 30$ off, so yeah. For that price you get a to customize your own watch, automatic movement, sapphire glass front and back, cool packaging and quality strap. Yes, the watch has a couple of small things I don’t like, the crown position, subdial text isn’t done very good and the loud rotor of the Miyota, but remember that there isn’t such thing as a perfect watch. Anycase, I think this definitely goes into my top10 watches that I reviewed this year!

I also have a discount code for you: “KaminskyBlog which gives you 20$ off any purchase!

Price: 428$ (price may vary on how you customize the watch) @ eoniq.co

 

316L Stainless Steel Case

Surgical grade stainless steel; Serviceable 3-piece construction; Hybrid polished/brushed premium finish; 40mm case diameter

Eco-friendly Sapphire Crystal

Double domed sapphire crystal utilizing eco-friendly variant of sapphire material and processing; 5-layer anti-reflective coating.

Japanese Automatic Mechanical Movement

Citizen (Miyota) 8 series 21 jewel mechanical movement; Côtes de Genève and exposed balance wheel customization; 21600bph; 42 hours power reserve.

Dial

Exposed silhouette mechanical movement combined with while-silver plated watch face with metallic applied indices.

Strap

Lug width 20mm; Quick release pins included; Leather straps utilize Genuine European leather with water-resistant inner lining.

Water-Resistant Rating

5ATM

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