Posted on February 14 2023
If you're Rolex or Omega you can even throw around terms like iconic and groundbreaking. But here's a first.
Yes, that's how Botta Design describes the Uno 24 Automatic. Extraordinarily logical. That's enough to grab my attention. The watch is already an unusual and eye-catching piece, but that extra bit of the pitch - that this is a logical watch - intrigued me.
Let's take a closer look.
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I'll admit it, I have a soft spot for one-handed watches. There's something very appealing to me about watches that don't worry too much about telling the exact time. I know, it sounds like an oxymoron, but watches are about more than recording time.
Single-handed watches do something very simple. They ditch the second and minute hands in favour of a single hour hand that tells you the time. Well, it roughly tells you the time. Say, to the nearest five minutes.
German watchmakers Botta Design work that unusual theme into its marketing. They argue that a simple, single-handed watch is a sign of relaxation and a small rebellion against the increasingly hectic modern world. Again, I can buy into that.
The Uno 24 adds an additional element too. Botta's idea is that a 24-hour watch is also more logical and natural than a 12-hour version. The logic goes like this - our day is 24 hours and our body's bio-rhythm is built around separate periods of day and night. So a natural watch should logically display 24 hours for each day and differentiate between the dark and light periods.
The result is a handsome and unique watch. A mid-sized piece that features a single prominent hand that circles the dial once a day. The dial is split into two halves to differentiate night from day.
To get you even more out of your comfort zone - but presumably also more logical - zero or midnight is at the foot of the dial.
Ok, so that's a lot to take in. But like Mr Jones' Ascendant watch, it's refreshing to have a timepiece that needs instructions to teach you how to tell the time.
I really like that. It feels genuinely innovative.
But make no mistake, this isn't a cheap novelty. Botta builds award-winning timepieces. The Botta Uno 24 is a hand-made German watch that boasts a titanium case, sapphire crystal and is powered by a Swiss ETA automatic movement.
Let's jump in and have a look at the details.
The Botta Design Uno 24 Automatic Watch in Detail
The Uno 24 is designed to catch the eye. It's not a conventional watch and instead offers something very different. My first impression was certainly of a bold and confident piece - a watch that is difficult to pin down.
There's a touch of German Bauhaus styling and a Scandinavian minimalist aesthetic. And despite the ethos behind the watch leaning towards a relaxed and natural attitude to timekeeping, the watch resembles a tool.
What type of tool?
I'm not quite sure.
The single - and therefore prominent hand - matched with a busy outer dial suggests a medical function. If not for blood pressure then maybe for tire pressure. Either way, my initial impression is that the Uno 24 - a piece designed by Klaus Botta - is a serious watch. It's packaged like it's a high-quality watch and comes with instructions and ephemera that reinforce this.
The case offers the first insight into the two elements found throughout this watch - simple styling achieved through thoughtful design. From the front, the case is straightforward and almost spartan. The slim bezel allows for a large dial and in no way detracts from the functionality.
But on closer inspection, you can see that the case has a slightly darker finish than most watches. That's due to the case being forged from titanium, a metal that is 40% lighter than steel. It's also highly resistant to corrosion and non-toxic, a plus if you're prone to allergies. Again, it's not an obvious choice and as it turns out, this is the first time that the brand has matched a single-handed automatic watch with a 40mm titanium case.
So, the case is lightweight and practical. It also has a slim profile with the height coming in a touch over 9mm.
But from the side things looks very different. This simple watch suddenly offers a more industrial appearance. The perfectly round dial contrasts with a more angular construction that suggests an industrial element. That's reinforced by the utilitarian knurled crown that is tucked slightly beneath the bezel - and signed with the TT from Botta's logo. With short lugs the watch has a lug-to-lug measurement around the same size as the diameter, making for a very wearable watch.
The case, of course, takes a backseat to the dial. The dual-coloured dial is both original and distinctive. And again, there's a little more going on than is first apparent.
There's only one hand, so it had to make an impression. It does that through its unusual design. It's long, and thin and features a green centre. Almost touching the dial edge, it points to small Arabic numerals that sit neatly at the perimeter. There's a minute track too, that displays hour, half-hour and 10-minute intervals. The only touches of colour are the eye-catching green accents sitting at what turns out to be 6-hour periods.
And that's where things start to get a little unusual.
The numbers on the dial begin at what is normally 6 o'clock. So bear in mind, the Uno 24 takes a little getting used to. Apparently, this allows the hand to align with the position of the sun during the day. The hours continue around to 12 o'clock in its usual position and on through to 23.
As you'll have noticed, the lower part of the dial is darker. That's 1800 to 0600 - the night. The lighter top half displays the daytime. It's that originality that separates the Uno 24 from the pack and offers a degree of originality.
The dial text is kept to a minimum and the dark-themed dial compliments the equally dark titanium case. There's a domed sapphire crystal that manages to maintain the watch's sleek profile.
The Uno 24 comes in both a quartz and a mechanical version. This green and black variant is powered by ETA's reliable 2893-2 automatic movement. It's visible through the exhibition back, with Botta's customised rotor being an unexpected treat. The movement is also hand-adjusted for increased accuracy - another sign that the watch fuses Swiss watchmaking with German engineering prowess.
Finishing off this impressive piece is an unpretentious black leather strap that compliments the watch rather than overwhelms it.
Botta Design set out to create a one-handed watch that was more logical than a standard 12-hour timepiece. The idea inspiring the design was that a 24-hour watch offers an overview of the day, without the stress of worrying about every second.
It's an ethos I like.
There's an acknowledgement that watches are more than just pieces of metal that display the time. They're also fun and quirky. Despite that, the Uno 24 - with its neat dial and titanium case - does resemble a tool.
So although it's not hung up on displaying every second, equally, it's not a light-hearted piece. It does feel like a well-designed watch that has been executed with excellent workmanship. And I mean that literally, as it's hand-made in Germany.
It also features a hand-regulated Swiss mechanical movement, another sign that Botta takes timekeeping seriously. And it's that successful marriage of playfulness and seriousness that makes the Uno 24 such a successful watch for me.