A watch is always something personal. You wear it every day, it spends more time on you than (arguably) your underwear. However, what Michael Young – founder of custom watch label UNDONE – was perplexed by was how you couldn’t ever make a watch a true reflection of your personality – not unless you were prepared to pay serious money.
Born in Hong Kong, Young has had a long standing love of watches and, after taking the practical route and doing an MBA, he started out in the industry by supplying parts and packaging to the likes of Hublot, Frank Muller, Omega and the Swatch Group. He also got into restoration and became so good at making vintage Rolex straps look like new, watch forums gave him the moniker ‘bracelet magician’.
Despite all this, Young was still bothered by the fact that customisation came at a rather hefty cost. So he did what every man with a plan does these days – in 2016 he started a Kickstarter campaign. Two million Hong Kong dollars later and UNDONE was born. A watch brand that offers all the benefits of customisation but at a fraction of the cost.
While the price tag might make you raise an eyebrow about the quality, rest assured there are no corners being cut here. The experience of the UNDONE team means they can keep everything in-house, apart from the movements, which are provided by Seiko.
Although there are almost countless ways to customise its watches, the UNDONE collection falls into two broad families – the Urban chronograph and the chunky, sporty Aqua. Both feature a range of ‘off-the-peg’ designs you can either use as inspiration or buy outright if you don’t want to go through the customisation process.
The Urban family is split into three different styles of chronograph, all sleek and handsome in their own right. The Mystique range features a 1960s-style gradient or sunray dial in a spectrum of colours inspired by the planets of the solar system. The Vintage line offers respectful tips of the cap to classic watches like the Omega Speedmaster, Breitling’s Navitimer and Paul Newman’s famous Rolex Daytona. And finally, the Modern range is all about minimal, colour-block design both in bright and muted tones.
Each chronograph comes in a clean, 40mm case. The Seiko movement is battery powered but the chronograph function is mechanical.
Whether you like rugged military watches, deep-sea divers, or luxe sailing timepieces, they all fit the Aqua’s robust body. Its 45mm stainless steel case is water resistant to 200m and the Seiko movement it houses features a shock absorber and hefty 40-hour power reserve.
The collection includes outdoor-ready designs in camo or special-forces black. PVD coatings or a Cerakote finish (a super-resistant polymer) help protect the watches from bumps and scratches, and the collection uses practical, hardy materials for its straps, including leather, rubber and Cordura.
Visit the UNDONE website and its easy-to-use customizer lets you design an exclusive watch that reflects your style and personality. Taking the Urban or Aqua models as your starting point, make it yours with a unique combination of case, bezel, dial, hands and strap, then add personalised finishing touch with text or artwork engraved on the caseback.
The sheer number of options means you can draw on decades of horological design. If you lean vintage, there are panda dials, classic aviation design touches and a few nods to Bauhaus. Or, if you’re more of a modernist, look to bright colours, ceramic bezels and carbon fibre dials.
The point is, this time it really is personal.
Every UNDONE timepiece is made to order at the brand’s lab and assembled by experts in the craft of watchmaking. Under one roof, UNDONE takes care of R&D, component production, assembly and quality control. The only external elements are the two movements on offer, both robust and reliable Seiko components.
Everything else is created in-house and despite prices that seriously embarrass some of the big names in horology, what you’re getting is top quality. Domed K1 sapphire crystals, diamond-like carbon coated cases, and quick-release straps mean that when you have a design you’re happy with, it will last way beyond the point you get an itch to create a second one.
Shop the full range and customise your own watch now at UNDONE.com