Posted on January 19 2023
Think about a pair of jeans - we don't want innovation. For the most part, we want blue denim with two pockets at the front and two at the back.
Because we like proven designs.
Take the Rolex Submariner. It's an iconic watch that Rolex keeps in constant production. Watch fans value it so much that a variety of companies have released their own versions, often direct copies of the original. There's always going to be room in the market for another Submariner clone.
That's why a Swiss brand like Timeless caught my attention.
From the beginning, their mission was clear. To create a distinctive watch that offered something new, a watch that didn't conform to current fashions and didn't rehash previously established designs.
It's a risky strategy, so let's see if they pulled it off.
- 41.5mm Diameter
- 12.8mm Thick
- 22mm Lug Width
- Stainless Steel/Pink Gold
- Swiss STP 1-11 Automatic Movement
- Domed Sapphire Crystal
- 50M Water Resistance
- RRP - 1,450 CHF
Timeless HMS-001 Automatic Watch Review
Judged on that simple concept - to produce an instantly recognisable watch - the HMS model does what the brand set out to achieve. The case, the dial, and even the logo placement drew my attention. They're all unusual and taken together make for a very interesting watch.
Remember, Timeless wanted its debut watch to offer something that isn't readily available at this price point. A Swiss mechanical watch with an original design.
Of course, an original design is fairly easy to achieve. There is any number of original but ugly looking watches out there. To create something new and handsome is a more difficult task.
A simple glance at the HMS-001 is enough to confirm that this watch is something special.
The case is certainly distinctive and it boasts an attractive industrial aesthetic. This complements the overall neo-vintage styling that you'll see is central to the brand. And it does what many of the best watch designs do - each time I look at this watch I notice another nice touch that wasn't initially obvious.
Crucially, this applies to both the case and the dial. There's a complexity to each that rewards the wearer. The mix of metals, finishes and styles means that the watch presents slightly different shapes and colours from different angles.
Of course, with a watch that costs four figures, workmanship and specs are also crucially important and as expected from a Swiss-made piece, the build quality is excellent.
And as for specs?
It houses the well-regarded STP 1-11 automatic movement, a domed sapphire crystal and a case forged from stainless steel and featuring touches of pink gold.
Let's take a closer look.
Timeless HMS-001 Automatic Watch in Detail
To really understand this watch it's worth digging into the company's ethos and the inspiration for the brand's name. Like many microbrand watches, the HMS-001 has a backstory that features more than its small history.
Timeless is a great example of this.
The founder, Mael Oberkampf, has a background in architecture and design and has worked with Richard Mille and Ladoire. He didn't approach the design of his debut watch as a novice - instead, he had a clear vision for the watch.
What were those founding tenets?
It sounds a bit cheesy, but it's all in the name. Oberkampf's vision was to mix styling from the past and the present to create a watch that was Timeless. Get it?
Within that concept, there's also an attempt to create a watch design that stands the test of time, neither too obviously vintage and certainly not catering to the whims of fashion.
The brand celebrates this paradox and its attempt to marry simplicity and complexity while also combining the best of traditional watchmaking with more contemporary designs.
Ok, so that's the theory. But how is that translated in the real world?
Firstly, Timeless boasts that it wanted to create a watch that is attractive from all angles. It also wanted to blend a mixture of styles from not just watch design, but also industrial and architectural concepts.
Sitting now, with the watch in hand, it's the pleasing industrial aesthetic that first grabs my attention.
This is most evident in the case.
Forged from steel and with a mixture of finishing - including fine sandblasting - the case sets the tone for the HMS-001. It's spartan in appearance and is a straightforward round shape. The lugs - which feature pink-gold plating - give the watch a utilitarian vibe and around the bezel are small holes that reinforce the industrial feel, reminding me of rivets.
Continuing this theme, along one side is a plate displaying the model name. This is screwed on - with pink gold screws - and has the appearance of a locomotive nameplate. It's quirky, original and works for me.
On the opposite side of the case sits an unusual crown. It contrasts gold and stainless steel with some of the watch's only black colouring. Again, there's an industrial edge with the crown fashioned to look like a fan or cog. And again, I like it.
It adds a distinctive and original element that isn't found in an array of other models.
If you've taken even a second to look at my photographs then you'll already have an opinion on the dial. This is where the watch best displays the desire of Mael Oberkampf to juggle complexity and simplicity in the same small space.
The outer ring is simple.
A white background with clean Arabic numerals around the edge. No bold markers, no 3 o'clock date window and no distracting lume. At first glance it's simple. It's also made from satin-brushed anthracite, which I wouldn't have known at first.
However, the inner dial ramps up the complexity. It's more eye-catching, has guilloché finishing and responds beautifully to wrist movement, changing as the light hits it.
But then things get even more interesting.
The centre of the dial is another unusual feature - the open work displays the movement's decorative hour wheel. Like the cut-out hands, it has a sandblasted gold finish.
So far we have the Bauhaus-style font on the chapter ring. A guilloché inner dial, a cut-away central section and ornate hands. There's also a very quirky window at 6 o'clock that houses the date and a date label that taken together reminds me of a pool ball. The logo is at 9 o'clock and, like the model name on the case edge, resembles a train's nameplate.
See, there's a lot going on.
But it works. Surprisingly well. The HMS-001 plays with finishes, curves, colours and textures, with the individual design elements being cohesive and with each one adding to the overall style.
Then there's the movement.
The movement is a good quality Swiss-made automatic. The STP 1-11 is one of a number of movements that I might expect from a Swiss watch at this price point. It has a power reserve of over 40 hours and reports are that it's reliable.
Rounding out the watch is a substantial leather strap and in this case it's a very similar in colour to the leather case the watch is packed in. It's a simple and utilitarian strap, exactly what a watch like this needed. Anything more decorative may have become overwhelming.
The HMS-001 is available now and is limited to 250 pieces.
Who are Timeless Watches?
Timeless watches are a young Swiss watch brand founded by Mael Oberkampf. He has a varied background, with experience in design and architecture and previous work with watch brands.
The HMS-001 and its sister model the HMS-002 are the company's debut models and were designed by Oberkampf. He began the Timeless project several years ago and the first watches are a result of a considerable design and testing process.
Where are Timeless Watches Made?
Timeless watches are Swiss-Made.
The case back of the HMS-001 notes that the watch is Swiss-Made and the STP automatic movement meets the Swiss-Made requirements too.
Timeless watches has taken a bold step by setting out to manufacture a Swiss-Made mechanical watch that is both original and affordable.
That's not an easy task.
There is a number of reasons why this could have been a bad idea. But with an experienced designer at the heart of the business, Timeless has beaten the odds. Its debut watch - the epitome of classic design - manages to pack in a raft of quirky design points without losing its coherence.
It works for me.
The watch looks original and unique and the build quality is on point. What's more, it wears well. At a touch over 40mm, it's modestly sized and comfortable on the wrist.
It's not going to be for everyone. New concepts rarely are. But if you want a distinctive Swiss watch at an affordable price, the Timeless HMS-001 is worth a closer look.