This post was most recently updated on July 14th, 2018
How do you define luxury?
Luxury is having something created your way, just as you like it.
That’s why someone can luxuriate in a bath… not because the bathwater percolated from a Nordic mountain spring, but because the bath is perfectly tailored to them.
An item which is luxurious to you may be worthless to someone else, and vice versa.
When it comes to a watch, imagine getting one as a special gift. Would you rather be given one tailored to your specific, personal design choices, or get a gem-encrusted garish nightmare which, technically, may be worth more?
I’d hope for the personalised watch!
Of course, if you’re treating yourself, and you can afford to write a blank cheque, you could use the likes of Vacheron Constantin’s custom watch service, perhaps getting something modelled on the exquisite Overseas Chronograph (shown left). However, as the guide price of the watch is £23,100, you can imagine how expensive a bespoke version would be!
Or, for a fully British experience, you could perhaps buy a Garrick S1 timepiece, one of only ten ever to be made, at £27,995. You can get the hands customised, or perhaps go for their fully bespoke service and get a watch made to your precise design.
But wait a minute… as gorgeous as those watches are, they’re out of the price range of most of us, and that’s before we start talking about the personalised custom-created watches.
What if there was a better option, one which gave the customer the ability to have their own watch tailor-made from an almost endless number of possible configurations, but the finished watch was a fraction of the price of a bespoke watch from a top-end watchmaker?
Thanks to the Internet, and the inventiveness of a company called UNDONE, the possibility now exists. You can configure your own watch from a dazzling array of possible components, including the case, dials, movement mechanism, straps, colours and even add your initials. Most impressive of all, the cost of such a luxury is much, much less than you’d expect. Click here for details.
Can You Gift A Custom Watch?
This is an interesting question. Obviously, a personalised watch is something unique and specific to the person wearing it. Usually, you’d expect that person to have chosen the tailoring option themselves.
So what can you do if you want to give a personalised watch as a gift? Well, consider it like buying someone jewellery. You need to do your homework. Think about what they like and what they don’t like. Consider what they’ve bought in the past. Do they prefer intricate, delicate designs, or bold and strong ones? Do they like colour, or monochrome?
When you give a personalised gift, you always run the risk of it not being a total, precise match for what the person would’ve chosen themselves. However, the very fact that you’ve made the effort to try to tailor a gift just for that person should more than compensate for any minor differences between what they would’ve chosen and what you selected, assuming you put in the effort and come close to what they would’ve chosen!
With a watch, make note of what the person currently has, and the styling of it, from the strap to the dial and the hands. Also consider what the watch is used for. Is it just to tell the time, with bold hands and dial, or is it used to convey subtle messages to other people, such as how successful the person is, where the design and styling may be more important.
Can I Just Build My Own Watch?
Some people want to take watch customisation to the ultimate level and build their own watch. While it is technically possible, and could be fun if you’re a budding horologist, you may want to use the simpler option of getting a custom-made, personalized watch after reading about what’s involved with making your own!
Firstly, you’re going to need some specialised tools, which are unlikely to be in your garden shed! You’d be wise to invest in a magnifying headband because you’ll be working with some tiny components. For the same reason, a set of high quality tweezers is also a good idea, along with a spring-bar tool and some watchmaker’s screwdrivers or watch-repair toolkit. You’ll also want a very clean work-space.
Secondly, you’re going to need several parts which comprise a watch. There’s the case, complete with bezel, a movement mechanism with possibly a movement ring to enable it to fit snugly in the case, a dial, watch hands and a strap with spring bars. You’ll probably want some hypo cement to stick the parts together as required and possibly mounting screws and tabs if your movement mechanism doesn’t come with them.
Bear in mind that each part and tool costs money and has to be delivered, which costs more. If you just want to make one watch, doing it yourself may be an expensive option, but if you’re doing it as a hobby and for the enjoyment of making your own, personal, bespoke watch, then good luck!
Here at CustomWatches.co.uk we recommend UNDONE watches for an incredible personalised experience at a reasonable price.
Which Parts Of A Watch Can You Customise?
The ability to personalise your own watch is something a lot of people desire to make their watch unique to them. In the past, you usually had to go the “the whole hog” and get a bespoke watch made for you, which usually came with an impressive price tag, or just get a mass-made one. Even then, the amount of actual customisation you could do to the “bespoke” watch was limited. However, thanks to the massive success of their KickStarter campaign, which raised more than ten times the original funding target, UNDONE can bring you a huge degree of customisation at an affordable price.
Here’s the original KickStarter campaign video by Michael Young, co-founder of UNDONE…
At the UNDONE website they have a really cool “customizer”, where you can build your own watch from the ground up. Here’s how it works…
Choose Your Watch Case Style And Colour
Your first choice is to decide on an Urban case or Aqua case.
The Urban case is a sleeker design, just 40mm in width and 48mm lug to lug (the distance between the two spring bar holes at either end of the watch), and cheaper, starting at £220. The Aqua design is chunkier, at 45mm width and 52mm lug to lug, and water resistant to 200m. However, it’s more expensive, with a base price of £355. The base price includes your choice of colour, but not if you choose Cerakote, which bumps the price to £425.
If you select Urban, you then get to decide on the colour of the case, choosing from Black PVD (“Physical vapor deposition“), Gold PVD, Rose Gold PVD or Stainless Steel finish. The Black PVD is described as, “matte sand-blasted finish”, whereas the other colour choices are, “polished top and brushed sides”.
Here’s a look at the Urban case styling…
If you choose the Aqua style case, you have a second choice to make, which is whether to go with a “Cerakote” coating and range of colours (green, sand, grey, white or red, all of which are “matte sand finish”), or the standard Aqua case with its range of colours (Black PVD, Gold PVD, Rose Gold PVD, Gun metal grey PVD, or standard 316L stainless steel).
Here’s a quick look at the Aqua case styling…
… and here are more details about the Cerakote coating option…
Choose Your Watch Bezel (Aqua Only)
For the Aqua-style case only, the next step is to choose the bezel, the part of the watch which surrounds the dial. Your choice are…
Cerakote: Green, Sand, Grey, White or Red. (see the red Cerakote bezel insert in the image, right)
K1 Glass 12 hours: White on black with luminous (blue glow) markers
Ceramic: Black, Brown, Green, Blue
K1 Glass: Baby Blue on black, White on blue with luminous (blue glow) markers, Green on black, Orange on black, Red on black, White on black with luminous (blue glow) markers, Yellow on black, White on green with luminous (blue glow) markers, Lake green on black, White on purple with luminous (blue glow) markers, Grey on black, Beige on brown, White on Pink with luminous (blue glow) markers, Black on white with luminous (blue glow) background.
Choose Your Watch Dial
When you’re happy with your choice of watch case and colour finish, your next set of options are for the watch dial.
For the Urban case, there are four choices of dial, the Modern, Classic, Vintage and Limited. For each choice of dial, there are colour choices, which are…
Modern: Black, White, Orange, Green, Light Blue, Yellow, Pink, Soil, Burgundy, Midnight Blue, Olive, all of which are matte finish and some of which come with vintage luminous indices (orange, green and light blue), some come with white luminous indices (yellow, and pink), and the rest come with indices the same colour as the dial. (See the image to the right for a selection of Urban “Modern” watch dials)
Classic: Brown sunray, Blue sunray, Gold sunray, Grey sunray, all of which come with vintage luminous indices.
Vintage: Killy, Navi, Navi 2.0, Newman, Auta, Portu, Speedy and Skipper, all of which are different-looking styles rather than colour choices. (See the image to the right for Urban Vintage watch dial selections)
Limited: Speedy Panda Blue/Off White, Speedy Panda Silver/Black.
For the Aqua case, there are multiple dial options…
Matte: Undone’s signature 6-9-12 dial with a black matte finish is available with: blue indices (non luminous), orange indices (non luminous), grey indices (non luminous), white luminous indices (blue glow), yellow indices (non luminous), red indices (non luminous), green indices (non luminous) or vintage luminous indices (green glow). Also available are variations without the base matt black colour such as: Matt orange dial with black indices (non luminous), Matt light grey dial with white luminous indices (blue glow) or Matt navy blue dial with white luminous indices (blue glow).
No Cyclops: This dial has the date indicator (cyclops) removed, so shows the full 3-6-9-12 dial numerals. It’s available in: Matt black dial with vintage luminous indices (green glow), Matt black dial with white luminous indices (blue glow) or Matt white dial with black indices (non luminous).
Aqua 1960: This dial replaces the numerals with symbols. It’s available in: Matt black dial with vintage lume indices (green glow), Matt black dial with white lume indices (blue glow), Matt navy dial with vintage lume indices (green glow), Matt black dial with white lume indices (blue glow), Matt white full lume (blue glow) dial with vintage lume indices (green glow) or Matt white full lume (blue glow) dial with white lume indices (green glow).
Carbon: Available as Real carbon fibre with white luminous indices (blue glow).
Gloss: The 6-9-12 dial face with a gloss finish. Available as: Gloss yellow dial with black indices (no lume), Gloss lime green dial with black indices (no lume), Gloss light blue dial with black indices (no lume) or Gloss black dial with rose gold indices (no lume).
Full lume: The 6-9-12 dial face with full luminescence. Available only as: Full lume dial (blue glow)
Sunray: The 6-9-12 dial face with sun ray pattern. Available as: Shiny blue Sunray patterned dial with white luminous indices (green glow), Shiny brown sunray patterned dial with rose gold indices (no lume), Shiny green Sunray patterned dial with white luminous indices (green glow) or Shiny purple Sunray patterned dial with white luminous indices (green glow).
Camo: The 6-9-12 dial face with camouflage pattern: Available as: Grey camo patterned dial with white luminous indices (blue glow), Green camo patterned dial with white luminous indices (blue glow), Purple camo patterned dial with white luminous indices (blue glow) or Pink camo patterned dial with white luminous indices (blue glow). (see the Green camouflage pattern in the image on the right)
Adding Initials To The Watch Dial
For both Urban and Aqua, in addition to choosing the watch dial style and colour, you can also choose to personalise the dial by adding your initials for a small bump in cost. There appears to be room for about seven lower-case characters or six upper-case characters at a push!
You can also choose the location of the initials (Urban: left or right of centre, Aqua: Top or Bottom), the colour of the initials (black or white) and the font of the initials (Roboto, Poiret One, or Georgia). Note the Poiret One font is clearly wider than the other two fonts, so if you choose that font you may have less room for multiple initials on the dial face. Adding your initials can be done for any of the watch dial configurations, but some dial faces may have less room for the initials, so be sure to check what you want to use for initials fits your chosen design.
In the image on the right, I’ve added the initials BOB to the green camouflage dial on an Aqua watch. The white colour doesn’t exactly make the initials stand out, but on a camouflage background they weren’t likely to!
For that ultra-personal design, you can actually send your request, along with your inspiration or artwork files, directly to UNDONE and they’ll send you back a design rendering of your watch. If you’re happy with how it looks, you can confirm your design and have it created for you. There are extra costs for what you want done, from a custom logo, custom rotor or a full custom dial. As this part of the process is tailored specifically to you, it can’t be easily previewed online, so it’s requested that you send your requirement after ordering a watch.
Choose Your Watch Hands
Details for the Urban watches…
You’d think there wasn’t much to choosing the hands for your personalised watch, but you’d be wrong! There are two sets of hands on an UNDONE watch, “Set A” consists of four hands, called the “hour and minute” hands, and “Set B” consists of the long sweeping hand called the “second hands”.
It’s a bit confusing that one of the sets has four hands while the other only has one, but take a look at the image to the right to see the labelling I’ve added for a visual illustration.
For “Set A”, you can choose one of three different hand styles, and nine different colours! (IP Blue, Black, Silver, Rose Gold, Gold, White, Red, Yellow or Blue).
For “Set B”, you can choose one of two different hand styles, and from the same set of nine different colour choices listed above.
Details for the Aqua watches:
For the Aqua watches there are only two hands in “Set A”, the hour and minute hands, and one in “Set B”, the sweeping second hand.
For “Set A” there are two different hand styles, and sixteen different colour options, nine of which are luminous.
For “Set B” there are two different hand styles, one of which has luminous colours (10 choices), and one of which doesn’t (11 choices).
Choose Your Watch Mechanism
For Urban watches…
This is the only section where “customisation” is lacking. You can choose a VK61A MechaQuartz “Hybrid” movement for your Urban watch, or, erm, well, that’s the only choice! 🙂 Apparently the mechanism is used by the likes of Autodromo, Stuckx, Fossil, Moto Koure, Nezumi, Geckota, Straton and Seiko.
The VK61A mechanism features both clockwise and anti-clockwise winding with a one-way clutch on the crown (the knob used to wind the watch), data display with quick set and a hacking seconds hand, which means when you pull out the crown , the seconds hand stops, and when the crown is pushed in the second hand starts again. This function allows for accurate setting of the time against a reference or second watch.
The time-keeping mechanism is quartz-based and the chronograph (stopwatch) module is mechanical using the buttons shown in the image to the right. The stopwatch function is not “flyback”, meaning it doesn’t reset and restart with a push of one button, it just resets. Overall, the mechanism is battery powered because an electrical current is sent to the quartz crystal to make it oscillate rapidly at a rate of 32, 768 Hz per second. Quartz-powered watched are actually more accurate than mechanical timepieces, but are perceived as less valuable mainly due to how ubiquitous they are.
For Aqua watches…
Aqua watches have the choice of a NH35A Black date disc or a NH35A White date disc with 24 jewels. Both feature an automatic ball-bearing winding mechanism which powers the watch from the kinetic movement of the wearer’s arm as well as clockwise and anti-clockwise winding via a one-way clutch on the crown. The Aqua models don’t use a quartz mechanism and therefore have no batteries. The vibration frequency is 21,600 beats per hour and the power reserve is greater than 40 hours. The device is also shock resistant via a shock absorber and a hacking seconds feature.
Choose Your Watch Strap
For Urban watches…
As the strap of your watch is on display the whole time you’re wearing it, it’s highly visible and so, not surprisingly, there’s a large degree of customisation options available so that you can get one just right for you. The different options are…
Cordura: Navy, Pirate Black, Orange
Caviar: Brown, Black
Calf: Red, Black, Blue, Grey, Brown, Yellow, Light Grey, Vintage Green, Vintage Yellow, Vintage Brown
Alligator Print On Black Genuine Leather: Turquoise, Baby Blue, Azure Blue, Pink, Yellow, Peach, Orange, Black, Purple, Green
Perion: Yellow, Red, Pink/Navy, Pink/Navy/White, Pink, Green/Black/White, Blue/Black/Grey, Orange, Olive Green, Navy, Grey, Green, Brown, Blue, Black, Beige
The straps are all 20mm wide, and the price is the same for all except the Perion range, which make the watch slightly cheaper than all the other strap options.
For Aqua watches…
There are different choices for Aqua watches. They are…
Cordura: beige with beige stitching, Olive green with green stitching, off white with white stitching
Military Bund: Bund Black, Bund Brown (shown in image, right)
Italian Leather: Calf orange with cream stitching
US Horween oil tanned: Chromexcel Calf Black with blue, red or white stitching,
Suede: Suede Grey with cream stitching
Natural rubber sports strap: Rubber Black, Rubber White (no quick-release mechanism)
Personalise The Watch Case Back
One final choice to make is to decide on whether you’d like a solid case back or a glass printing case back.
If you choose the solid case back, you’re given the option of having a message engraved on it with various personalisation details such as changing the font (sans serif or script), the font size (small, medium or large) and, of course, you own message.
If you choose the glass printing case back, you’re given the option of uploading an image to be printed onto the glass case. The image will be printed in colour, so this is a very nice personalisation touch to consider if you’re gifting the watch to someone.
Of course, if you wanted, you could choose to have the glass back without printing on it, which lets you see the innards of the watch. I think this looks great for the Aqua watches, but not so much for the Urban ones. However, the whole point of customising a watch is that you can do what suits you best!
When you’re finished with all those options, you can proceed to checkout (PayPal accepted), and place an order for your incredibly highly customised personal watch!
To re-cap, you’ll have chosen the…
- case style and colour
- bezel style and colour (Aqua only)
- dial style and colour
- hands style and colour
- strap type and colour
- initials on the dial (font type, font size and position)
- message (font type, font size and position) or printable image on the case back.
That’s an incredible amount of custom options for a very affordable price!
Click here to visit UNDONE watches and see what custom watch variations appeal to your unique personality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are these UNDONE watches scratch resistant?
According to their website, “all Undone watches are using sapphire crystals”, and, “All Undone exhibition case backs are using sapphire crystal for maximum durability”. Sapphire crystal is one of the hardest materials, superior to mineral crystal glass. Sapphire rates 9 on the Mohs scale, just behind diamond which rates 10 (despite diamond being almost four times harder!), and is unlikely to scratch under most usual circumstances. Each mineral can scratch the one below it, so unless you attack your watch face with a diamond, you should be able to keep it scratch-free!
The UNDONE Customizer only lets me choose Aqua or Urban. What about other styles?
While the Customizer will let you create a multitude of different combinations, including almost everything shown on the UNDONE website, there are some watches featured as “Collections” which can’t be re-created in the Customizer. For example, the Undone Mystique Collection features a dial which I couldn’t find in the different Customizer options. Presumably the watches in the Mystique Collection are only available in the configurations shown on the website, which are the Neptune, Mars, Mercury and Eclipse version, with differently coloured dials, plus the option to choose either a silver or rose gold case.