What defines the “haute” aesthetic? Is it complexity? Is it elegance? Is it a use of surprising materials and finishes? Is it all and yet none of the above? Probably, but you know it when you see it. Within the modern haute independent brands, there has definitely been a move towards open dials with layers of materials often emphasizing the unique and ultimately more important mechanics within. Looking at brands like Arnold & Son, MB&F, and Urwerk, to name but a few, you have a sense of that contemporary, ornate style. Sure, there are also brands like F.P. Journe, Moser and Laurent Ferrier that go classic and understated, but we’re not talking about those for now.
In the realm of accessibly priced micro-brands, there have been a small handful of brands that have tried to emulate this aesthetic, though had to do so while lacking the in-house mechanical counterpart. Seven Friday was the first, to my knowledge, to really push this concept. The replica watches were huge, and featured tons of layers and an astounding mix of finishes on both the case and dial. Following them REC came out with their P-51, featuring a dial made of reclaimed Ford Mustang metal with an off-center layout and unique case. While these replica watches were very different from one another, they did share a few commonalities. First, they both used Miyota movements, emphasizing complications to add to the intricacy of the designs. Second, and perhaps more importantly, they were both designed by Studio Divine, a Swiss design house that specializes in replica watches of this aesthetic.
The newest brand to both work with Studio Divine and try for this “haute” aesthetic is Klynt, but they are doing so with one significant twist, the replica watch is Swiss Made and features a Swiss movement. Banking on the idea that Swiss is better (not saying it isn’t, but not saying it is either), Klynt is adding value in the form of Swiss prestige to the replica watch. Inside, the Klynt EC (Elegance Contemporaine ) is packing a Sellita SW 290, which is the SW 200 automatic with a sub-seconds dial at 9 rather than central seconds. Through their Kickstarter the replica watch, which is available in four versions, has a starting price of $990, which is decent for the package. After their campaign the prices will go up to $1600 – $2000, finishing depending, putting it up against some stiff competition. I’ve spent sometime with the rose gold version, and here are my thoughts.
The case of the Klynt EC attempts to pack a lot of detailing into every nook and cranny possible, with various types of finishing, faceting and other tricks. It’s a big replica watch, coming in at 43.5 x 51.3 x 12.5mm, which is expected of this type of modern and more outrageous style. From above, the design has a fairly classic outline, though the surfaces are all heavily decorated. The bezel is wide, and made to look wider by the mid-case, which sticks out creating a stepped effect. Thick lugs with an angular shape then cut through the mid-case, appearing like they are a separate component. On the top of the lugs the first of the eccentric finishing techniques is visible. There is an indented area with a rough, sand blasted texture within. Not “matte”, but more a grainy texture. It’s cool looking, and certainly different.
From the sides, a lot more detail work is visible. The sides of the mid-case have been grooves machined into them, creating sections of three rectangular studs, each of which is beveled and alternate between polished and brushed finishes. On the right side, the middle stud has been replaced by a screwed in crown-guard from which the crown protrudes. It’s a lot to look at and intricate but a bit baroque for my tastes. Some of the lines are also a bit soft, undermining the high-end aesthetic being sought after. Granted this is a sample, but all of this complexity couldn’t be easy to achieve, and opens them up to a lot of manufacturing details than need to be executed flawlessly. After all, this isn’t a $500 replica watch, it’s a a $1500-2000 “Swiss-made” replica watch, and soft lines are not acceptable.
Flipping the replica watch over, you have a display case back that is held down with four screws. The metal area around the window is broken into four sections, two of which have etched graphics while the other two have details about the replica watch and movement. Through the window you can see the Sellita SW 290. This 31-jewel automatic is fairly undecorated, looking basically like an ETA 2824-2. According to renders in their KS project, the rotor will be decorated with cote de Geneve as well as the Klynt logo.
Continuing the theme, the dial of the Klynt EC uses different finishes and layers to create a high-end look and emphasize complications. The base of the dial is a black surface with a pebbled, blasted texture, similar to what is found on the lugs. The dial is then broken into multiple rings. The outer ring features a printed railroad index in white and an applied minute index in rose gold, with numerals from 60 – 30, then arrows for the rest. The minute and arrow portions are separated by an applied rose gold bridge.
Moving inwards, the eye is immediately drawn to the small second complication at 9, which has been transformed from a sub-dial into a visual centerpiece. The complication consists of an applied rose gold ring with beveled and polished edges and a brushed top surface. Within the ring is then a dark grey, transparent surface with an index printed in white on top of it. The surface gives a veiled view of the movement within. The seconds hand is then a ring that is suspended by two supports, and features a triangular pointer. The whole contraption is quite cool looking and by far the most interesting part of the replica watch. It gives the dial an asymmetrical weight, bringing to mind the replica watches of Armin Strom, as well as the feel of tourbillon at a glance.
Between one and two is an interesting date window with an arced shape. It shows a bit of the date before and after the current, though doesn’t feel like “Spitfire” window due to its location. The arc sits within the inner ring on the dial, lining up well with other features, which integrates it nicely into the dial as a whole. In the very center of the dial is some interesting skeletization, creating a lattice of triangular cut outs revealing the movement below ever so slightly. It’s purely decorative but adds some nice texture.
For the hour and minute hands, Klynt went with a skeletonized monolith shape with lume fill. They suit the dial design and are legible, though the lume seems unnecessary on this design. Overall, the dial has a unique design with some appealing features. In rose gold, it does come across a bit lavish, but on the steel models it takes on a more technical, futuristic look that suits my tastes more. The one detail that I found to be a bit of a miss was the applied minute markers. They felt too classical and staid for the rest of the design. The center of the dial, with the sub-seconds, date, lattice work and other features feels dense and rich with detail. The applied markers then feel like an after thought.
The Klynt EC comes mounted to a 22mm brown leather strap. It’s a sturdy strap with a slight taper and padding. The leather is nothing to write home about, just a very even chocolate brown with a plastic shine. The strap also includes a custom buckle which has a cool, faceted shape. It’s heavy duty, giving the strap a more rugged feel.
On the wrist, there is nothing discreet about the Klynt EC. It’s big and bold… and in rose gold, a bit loud. The case has lots of facets and glints of light from polished areas, making it really stand out. The dial then has a lot of texture, drawing attention even from a distance. It definitely doesn’t look like an everyday replica watch, succeeding at appearing like a haute piece from a far. On my 7” wrist, I did find the lug-to-lug a bit long at nearly 52mm, extending over my wrist. It’s definitely a replica watch for people who want the visual effect of a larger replica watch, or have the wrist to pull it off.
With the EC, Klynt has managed to get a feel for the aesthetic found in some modern haute pieces into a more affordable package. The design overall is unique, utilizing every surface on the case and dial to add texture and detail through finishing and machining. For those who like the ornate, complex style of some of the modern haute independents, but aren’t looking to spend five or more figures, the Klynt might very well be to your tastes. For the “less is more” camp, which I typically find myself in, it’s not really going to be your style, but one can appreciate the design and manufacturing behind it.
Currently on KS, the Klynt EC is available from $990 – $1190 (for a single replica watch), which is a fair price for a Swiss made replica watch with a Sellita movement. Given the complexity of the replica watches, it’s a price that totally makes sense. After the KS, the price will go up to 1650 – 2050 CHF, including VAT, which is substantial and puts them up against some stiff competition. Brands like Nomos and Oris jump to mind, but on the direct to consumer front, so does Christopher Ward who offer an in-house 5-day chronometer at just a bit more. I think it’s up to Klynt to figure out how to not just emulate the aesthetic, but really achieve something high-end at their price point in order to compete.