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Undone Affordable Custom Watches - The 7 Best Models

Posted on January 27 2021

Undone Watches

 

Undone is a young watch brand from Hong Kong that has a unique selling point. You can customise your watch. The cases, hands, dials, bezels and straps can all be changed or personalised.

All of their watches fit firmly in the affordable category and they produce a selection of quartz and mechanical models.

Since launching on Kickstarter in 2016 the company has gone from strength to strength, having sold over 60,000 watches from their six main collections. In the last few years, they’ve increasingly focused on their collaboration watches.

Above all else, Undone watches are fun.

I’ll give you an introduction to the brand and then take you through the seven best Undone watches.

The History of Undone Watches


The company is only five years old.

That’s very young for a watch brand. It’s not unusual to see watch manufacturers celebrating their 100th or 150th anniversary. So Undone is very much the young upstart.

Founder Michael Young was born just down the road from me in Sunderland, UK. A veteran of the watch industry, he was fascinated by watches from an early age and transformed his hobby of collecting Rolex’s into a business.

It was this passion for vintage watches that set Michael on the journey that would lead to his creation of the inspirational and innovative company.

He began as a collector, transitioned into a commercial watch repair business and then really made his name when he began to offer watch customisation services.

The light-bulb moment came in 2014 when Michael was chatting about watches in the pub with a friend.

Thinking about the levels of customisation offered by car companies and the high-priced and convoluted process of modifying luxury watches, Michael asked his friend the question:

What if a new company could offer similar services over a website that allows customer personalisation, but on a more affordable level?

Undone was born.

 

 

With a team of three people, he embarked on a mission to create an affordable watch brand that allowed the customer to dictate the details of the watch.

As I stated in my Undone Urban Killy review, “Undone Watches have their own take on the concept of luxury. It’s the ability to personalise the product and have it made to order that is luxurious. The price tag doesn’t have to be astronomical”.

 

Undone Urban Killy Watch
It’s an important point and central to the Undone ethos.

Luxury is about the process. It’s about the company meeting the customer’s needs and ultimately having the buyer make the final decision about how the watch looks.

Undone have successfully challenged the concept that luxury is primarily expressed through price. They argue that the luxury experience can be affordable.

Have a look at my experience with the Urban Killy to get an idea of how this works in practice.

Sales prove or disprove a concept and Undone, following its initial 2016 Kickstarter launch, has quickly grown its business. That 3 man team is now 30 people, they currently have six main collections and a substantial number of collaborations.

Undone Watch Collections


The Undone line is divided into six distinct collections. Broadly they consist of Chronographs and Dive Watches, with a handful of smaller collections rounding out the range.

The Chronographs are in the Urban and Urban 34 collections and the Basecamp and Aqua II collections are diving inspired. There are also the modestly-sized Terra line and the aviator Aero models - both taking the same vintage inspiration seen throughout the Undone catalogue.

Remember - these models are the base from which you can make alterations if desired. As I noted in my review, there’s so much choice on the website that you may find that you can’t improve on the existing designs.

Where Are Undone Watches Made?


Undone watches are based in Hong Kong, where watches are assembled by a small team.

Their watches use either quartz or mechanical movements, with both being supplied by reliable Japanese giant Seiko.

Undone has strict control of its supply chain and has the ability to design and assemble the watches in-house.

Are Undone Watches Good Quality?


The simple answer is Yes.

Quality is an integral part of the brand’s innovation.

Michael Young was involved in the production of parts for the customisation of luxury timepieces. His eureka moment came when he realised he could redirect that knowledge, his existing suppliers and his reputation towards the affordable end of the market.

He built a team of watch industry veterans and set about creating an environment where these custom watches could be assembled. With Headquarters in Hong Kong the business is ideally placed to work with two of the world’s biggest watch building nations - China and Japan.

All Undone watches use Japanese Seiko movements and as you’ll see when you dig deeper into the brand, there’s real attention paid to the details.

The 7 Best Undone Watches


I love my Urban Killy.

However, recently I’ve been dipping back into the brand. I was particularly taken with their Cali dial models - it’s a quirky style that is quite uncommon.

And their fun collaborations always bring me back to their site. They range from Batman to Bugs Bunny. From the Arabian Night to Zen Buddhism.

It was about time that I made a list of what I believe are the best of the current Undone range.

 

Undone Urban Killy Watch

 

This was my first Undone watch. When the company sent me a discount code back in 2019, this was the watch that I created.

Despite all of the options to customise the watch - it’s a simple job using their site - I stook pretty closely to the base model.

The Urban collection features several variations, all chronographs with a strong vintage aesthetic. Some are sporty and there is a great Panda dial. I was particularly taken with the Killy, an off-white model that reminds me of a Rolex Dato Compax or Russian Strela.

It’s classically styled, with a busy and colourful dial that still manages a degree of subtly. It captures an era, although at 40mm wide and with a quartz movement, it’s a modern interpretation.

I chose a Perlon strap on mine, but with hindsight, I’d probably replace that with a distressed leather option.

Overall it’s a great looking watch. The two sub-dials are well positioned, being symmetrical and not cutting through any numerals. The bold blue hands of the standard design seemed like a great choice, so I stuck with those.

This is a very affordable way to obtain the classic vintage chronograph style.

Undone Urban Killy

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Quartz movement
  • Domed K1 Crystal
  • 30M Water Resistance

 



Undone Basecamp Cali Bronze Watch

 

There aren’t many manufacturers doing California dials. It’s a little eccentric - a mixture of Arabic numbers and Roman Numerals, most recognisable from a Panerai Radiomir.

I’ve categorised the Basecamp as a dive watch, but that is probably too narrow a definition. Maybe it would be better described as a tool watch. Either way, even before customisation, Undone offers a wide selection of Basecamp variations.

Like the Cali dial, the choice of Bronze for the case material is unconventional. Taken together you’re getting a pretty unique looking watch.

You then have the option to add your own touches.

Aesthetically it’s a distinctive and attractive piece, with the bronze case slowly changing as it patinas. And the size really appeals to me. 40mm is my sweet spot and the Basecamp ticks that box.
It’s an automatic too - Seiko powered - which pretty much closes the deal for me.

I’d be wary of playing around too much with this design.

The simple colour palette of black and bronze works so well because of its simplicity. That, and Undone’s logo positioning at the bottom of the dial, means that you can really appreciate the quirky numbers and the textured dial.

It’s definitely more than a standard dive watch.

Undone Basecamp Cali Bronze

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 15mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Bronze
  • Japanese Automatic Movement
  • Lexan Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 



Undone Terra Daybreak Watch

 

The Terra is a modestly-sized watch that is pared-down compared to some of the more outlandish Undone designs. It’s refined, stylish and retro-themed.

It’s also 37mm wide which may be a dealbreaker for you.

Aside from the size - we can come back to that - this is very much as you’d expect at this price-point. It has a Japanese automatic movement, a sapphire crystal and a dark brown leather strap.

The size could be an issue.

It’s fine for me and I can see this watch being compared to a vintage Hamilton or a CWC W10. It has a similar field watch vibe - almost a softened military watch style. I like it and see the size as a sign of authenticity and an attempt to faithfully recreate a retro piece.

The case itself is interesting - it’s not quite a cushion case and is described by the manufacturer as a tortoise or tartaruga shape. Its angular construction is distinctive and I really like the large, bold crown that they’ve equipped it with.

The simple dial is another reminder of Hamilton, and with the logo again at the foot of the dial, it almost looks like a sterile version.

All in all, this is a brave release that counts on there being watch fans out there that still value a tasteful, mid-sized timepiece.

Undone Terra Daybreak

  • 37mm Diameter
  • 12.8mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese Automatic Movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 



Undone Monopoly The Benjamin Watch

 

In my piece about fun watch collaborations, I described Undone as the King of Collaborations.

It’s not a great exaggeration. A large number of their line is made up of watches either co-branded or inspired by third parties. It’s an interesting area of watch manufacturing and I’m constantly on the lookout for new, eye-catching pairings.

Within the Undone line, the collaborations range from the Far East inspired models - Zen Buddhist designs - to Batman, Popeye and the Moomins. 

The Monopoly-themed watch could be a first. A watch inspired by a board game.

A vintage game and a vintage-style chronograph. They’ve had fun with it too. The name, The Benjamin, refers to US money and the dial design references this.

It goes further. That number that looks like a dollar serial number? It’s actually the patent number of the Monopoly board game.

And there’s more.

The watch design was created by Stephen Bliss - the artist from Rock Star Games who created the distinctive imagery for Grand Theft Auto, LA Noire and Red Dead Redemption.

In terms of specs, this watch is similar to the Urban Killy model. It has a reliable Seiko meca-quartz hybrid movement, a K1 domed crystal and a mid-sized stainless steel case.

The Benjamin has been limited to 500 pieces.

Undone Monopoly The Benjamin

  • 41.8mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • VK64 Mechanical-Quartz Hybrid Movement
  • Domed K1 Crystal
  • 30M Water Resistance

 



Undone Space Xplorer Watch

 

I’ve already over-used the word distinctive, but it’s a good way to describe Undone. The Space Xplorer is a continuation of that trend.

This is a watch that stands out.

Inspired by the SpaceX Dragon V2 capsule, this watch takes its design cues from the astronaut’s uniforms and incorporates the craft’s construction too. This mission was the first time a private company launched a crewed orbital spacecraft and certainly warrants a watch - see more about iconic space watches here.

The technology isn’t futuristic. Again, we have a Japanese quartz movement, a stainless steel case and a domed K1 crystal.

The design, however, does have a modern appearance giving the impression that the watch would compliment a spacesuit.

As well as the unique styling, there are a few features that further reference space travel or reinforce the cutting edge technology. The watch, like spacesuits, is hermetically sealed and the whole dial glows for the ultimate legibility in the dark.

In a nice touch, the box is inspired by retro Tamiya modelling kits - an unusual and fun watch to present the watch.

Undone Space Xplorer Ltd Ed

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese VH31 Quartz Movement
  • Domed K1 Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 



Undone Zen Cartograph Watch

 

We now go from the modern to the ancient. From business to spirituality.

The premise of this piece is great. Undone suggest that with this watch you can “gain an insight into your destiny through the mapping of stars, observe the delicate balance of the five elements (Earth, Wind, Fire, Water & Metal) like a proper Feng Shui Master”.

Apparently, it’s a modern interpretation of a Feng Shui Compass and has been lab-tested and is able to measure your luck. It does come with a Field Operator Manual if that's new to you.

Setting aside the mystical features, this is another quirky and attractive Undone watch. The crown at 12 o’clock is unusual, as is the spinning Yin-Yang seconds disk.

Like the Space Xplorer, the materials and movement used are reassuringly standard, making this a fun affordable quartz watch.

Undone Zen Cartograph Mk-1 Prototype

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese TMI VH31 Quartz Movement
  • Domed K1 Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 



Undone Aero Scientific Watch

 

The final watch that I want to highlight is an aviation model, one of a pair that the brand has created.

Undone are fond of saying that watches don’t just tell the time - they tell stories too - and this is the case for the Aero Scientific.

Although we now associate the rotating bezel with dive watches, the original purpose was for use on pilots watches. This model is a tribute to the inventor of the rotating bezel, P.V.H Weems.

In keeping with his 1929 innovation, the watch has a strong vintage styling. The case size, 40mm, is ideal for today’s tastes and the watch houses a Seiko NH35A automatic movement.

The original rotating bezel was designed to allow pilots to synchronise watches, even if they each had different times and the resulting watch is a stunning design. The case is heavy looking and the crowns are rugged - but this isn’t an over-sized watch.

Having created a business built around luxury and customisation, there’s still room in the Undone range for these more traditional pieces. Importantly, while creating a new strand of the watch trade, it’s nice that the brand is also looking backwards and mining horology’s rich heritage for inspiration.

Undone Aero Scientific

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 15mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug Width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Japanese NH35A Automatic Movement
  • Lexan Crystal
  • 100M Water Resistance

 


Conclusion


Hong Kong-based Undone Watches are a bit of an enigma. A young company - less than a decade old - that created the business on a simple mission. To allow customers to customise their watches at an affordable price.

They’ve managed this primarily through the founder’s previous experience in watch customisation and an ability to translate that into a simple online process.

However, a large portion of their watches are collaborations, including some left-field ideas. The Moomins and Monopoly aren’t the first brands that you’d expect to see on an adult watch - but it works.

Additionally, as we saw with the Aero model, the brand isn’t scared to rework iconic vintage-designs. Indeed, as the Terra demonstrates, they’re also willing to experiment with smaller-sized cases too.

I’m a fan, and I’d encourage you to follow a few of the links in this post and dig deeper yourself.

Pop any additional thoughts below.

 

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