UNDONE Watches Review: Can You Craft The Ultimate Watch?
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. We received courtesy product from UNDONE in exchange for our honest review only. All opinions expressed here are our own.
A unique customization experience, attractive price points, and speed of delivery make UNDONE a formidable force in the mid-range luxury watch space.
A buddy of mine recently told me about UNDONE.
Actually, ‘told’ is not the right word.
He was raving about them like a kid who just discovered Halloween.
I didn’t know the model at the time, but I now know that he had just got his new custom Urban Vintage Killy.
To be fair, I liked the look of it. So, he told me more about it (once the raving had stopped).
Here’s how his ramblings translated to me:
Classic styles, custom-made to order, wicked swift delivery, and a price that wouldn’t involve me digging into my 401k.
But I wasn’t going to simply take his word for it. No, that’s not what watch nerds do. I checked out UNDONE’s website for myself.
And after playing around with their mobile watch customization program, I got hooked pretty quickly.
So what the heck? I reached out to the UNDONE team and got my hands on both an Urban Vintage and an Aqua Standard to try. Each one customized, of course.
Now that I’ve had my fun with the watches, I’ll run you through my experience.
What Is UNDONE?
Launched via Kickstarter in December 2016, UNDONE is a Hong Kong based mid-range luxury watchmaker with a unique point of difference.
You may have gathered this, but they’re all about customization. And yep those italics are intended for emphasis.
Select any of their ready-made collection pieces on their online store and you’ll land right on their bespoke customization tool. This doesn’t mean you have to customize their collection pieces, but they’re clearly giving you that wink over the shoulder to showcase their best asset.
If you do choose to customize, UNDONE’s in-house watchmakers personally assemble your watch and then individually test it. Most brands only pull a few off the assembly line to batch test. UNDONE doesn’t let anything slip through the cracks.
I do love me some quality control.
Oh, and their presence is 100% online which helps them to keep costs low.
What Makes UNDONE Different From Other Watchmakers?
That word again. Customization
With UNDONE, you’re free to choose from countless different features across all their bespoke watches. Keen to select a custom dial, case, bezel, hands, movement, strap, or case back?
Your only limit is your imagination. And I’m genuinely not overselling it.
For each feature, you have a choice from anywhere between two and ten options. This means there are literally thousands of different combinations for each watch.
It’s a cool feeling knowing that you’re probably wearing a watch that no one else in your city is wearing.
There’s a lot to love, but they exclusively use Seiko movements, so that part isn’t customizable. For the record, there’s nothing wrong with Seiko at all, but it’s not everyone’s first choice in a movement.
UNDONE offer two core collections, the Urban and Aqua. The brand has developed them out across distinct product lines:
Urban Vintage. Influenced by iconic vintage mechanical watches of the 60s, this is the UNDONE signature line. It all started here with a Kickstarter campaign in December 2016. And I started here as well in crafting my custom Urban Vintage.
Urban Modern. Like a poor student’s dorm room, minimalism and color is the focus of UNDONE’s Modern line. The hallmark hybrid chronograph keeps it connected to its Urban cousins.
Urban Mystique. Think outer space. Then think the Urban Vintage Chronograph crossed with a mesmerizing smoked dial.
Aqua Standard. This diver is as timeless as a vintage diving suit. The Standard is UNDONE’s core diver, and the inspiration for my custom piece.
Aqua 1960. The brand’s modern take on the retro vintage dialled divers of the 1960s.
Aqua Cerakote. The Cerakote brings an indestructible ceramic coating to the diver look. Because…why not? For the guy who’s day may consist of lighting a furnace. Or just taking care of business generally.
If you don’t back yourself as a watch craftsmen, you can of course simply check out one of the stunning ready-made collection pieces. After all, they’ve been designed with optimal aesthetics in mind.
Alternatively, as something of a middle ground, you can use the designs from the collection as a starting point to then make your own customized tweaks.
Or, you can go completely Picasso on it.
That leads me nicely to…
How to Use the UNDONE Mobile Customizer
The hallmark of UNDONE is certainly their in-depth and highly functional online watch customizer. The application works for all their product lines.
It’ll cost you an extra $30 if you go the customization route (free for the Aqua)—which is nothing considering that you’re getting an individually made watch.
The customizer allows you to create your ideal watch by tweaking with the various features in real time. Six or seven different characteristics can be customized, depending on the product line you’re working with.
Once you’re happy with how your watch looks, your tailor-made timepiece will be be crafted in Undone’s Hong Kong workshop and shipped to you anywhere in the world.
Urban Vintage Watch Review (Custom)
The case on the Urban Vintage is 40mm wide and 12.7 mm thick.
It has a Seiko meca-quartz movement which is a pretty unique inclusion.
In a meca-quartz movement, the timekeeping elements are quartz, while the chronograph components are mechanical. This gives you the sweeping analog seconds hand when you activate the chrono timer (as opposed to the standard tick you get with a quartz), as well as the snap back on chrono reset.
All watches in the Urban collection have a hardened domed K1 crystal which is a scratch resistant mineral glass. The case is made from 316L stainless steel.
As for water resistance, it’ll run down to 30 meters. The 20 mm strap comes in a variety of different colors and materials. They’re easily interchangeable via quick release pins.
And while the hallmark of the Vintage line is the calf strap, I opted for the cordura to give mine a modern twist.
Here’s how I customized my Urban Vintage:
- Dial | Vintage Auta
- Case | Standard
- Hands | Hour and Minute | Baton Black / Vintage Lume
- Hands | Second | Lollipop Red
- 20MM Strap | Cordura Sand
- Caseback | Glass Caseback
The Urban comes in in a slick looking grey case with a linen feel to it. There’s a sticker on top which details the key specs and brands your unique date of purchase.
It has a button fastener for locking the case closed when traveling or for adding that one layer of protection from your curious kids.
On initial open, you’re greeted with a cool vintage looking promo card as well as a fairly basic owner’s manual.
Onto the watch, and I’m a big fan of the overall style (hey, I designed it after all). I was a little worried how my on-screen imagination would translate in reality, but I’m pleasantly surprised.
The oversize crown (engraved with a small Undone logo) works well with the overall vintage style and the pushers are a good size. All of the mechanical functions in terms of setting the date and time and activating the chrono features worked just fine.
The dial is covered by a scratch-resistant mineral crystal. It looks ok, but compared with UNDONE’s Aqua reviewed below which has a sapphire crystal, it doesn’t have the same high-end look. This is clearly one area where UNDONE is keeping costs down.
What I do like is the slight dome shape to the crystal as it helps accentuate that vintage feel.
I chose the glass case back and it looks good. You can see the movement clearly. It also has the key specs engraved around the outside which is a cool touch.
The dial was my own custom choice and I like how unique it is. The red, cream and black colors blend together nicely, and I’m a fan of the fonts used for the numbers on the sub-dials and the date.
There are two sub-dials on the face. The top one at 12 is a 60-minute timer. This tallies your minutes when you start the chrono timer. It’ll stop automatically after running for 60 minutes to preserve battery life. The bottom sub-dial at 6 is the second hand.
The cordura strap has a high-quality look and feel to it, but it does take a few wears to lose its firmness.
Aqua Standard Watch Review (Custom)
In terms of style, the Aqua is about as far as it gets from the Urban Vintage.
The Aqua Standard is a classic dive watch with all the chunkiness and boldness that goes with the title.
Specifications wise, it features a beefy 43.5 mm by 16mm case, a Seiko NH35A movement with an automatic winding mechanism, a 316L stainless steel case with sapphire crystal, and 100-200 meter water resistance for its glass-back and solid-back cases, respectively.
Here’s how I customized my Aqua Standard:
- Dial | Full Lume Blue Glow
- Case | Standard Silver
- Bezel | Ceramic Green
- Hands | Hour and Minute | Sword Black / White Lume
- Hands | Second | Lollipop Black / White Lume
- Movement | Seiko NH35A – White Date Disc
- 22MM Strap | Calf Brown
- Caseback | Solid Caseback
The Aqua comes housed in a padded leather slide-in box. It’s a touch much more conservative compared to the Urban box. But it’s still pretty sexy.
Upon sliding the box open you’re greeted by a black warranty card and an Aqua specific owner’s manual.
You set the time and date by unscrewing the crown and pulling it out to various positions.
Take special note that you shouldn’t set the date between 21:00 and 00:30. I’m sure this is less end-of-world superstition and more something to do with the mechanics of the watch.
Onto the watch itself—my custom Aqua gave me a great first impression. The sapphire crystal and the white face really popped and I’m a fan of the magnification window on the date. The crystal looks noticeable clearer on the Aqua compared to the K1 of the Urban.
The rotating bezel turns with ease and you get that signature ‘turny-bezel’ sound which to this day drives every middle school teacher crazy.
It also feels heavy and super sturdy. Like you could throw it against a brick wall and it’d still be ticking (don’t do this). A diver should have some bulk to it and UNDONE have captured that sentiment well without going overboard.
I didn’t opt for a window on the back of my Aqua. I wanted to see how their steel case back would hold up. It’s fine. Test passed.
The Calf Brown leather strap looks and feels great, and unlike the Cordura, molded to my wrist much quicker.
How to Buy an UNDONE Watch
UNDONE takes orders for both watches I’ve reviewed, and all others featured, through their website.
Even if you’re not ready to take the plunge, have a play around with their customizer. It may just be because I have a bit of a thing for watches, but it’s fun to tinker with.
Every change you make is reflected in the live model. I like that you get to see an accurate representation before having to commit to a purchase.
Word of warning—you’ll always create a new design that you liked better than the last. Go with your gut. The first few designs you made are probably your heart’s true desire.
Yes, creating your ideal custom piece is a major part of the appeal of the UNDONE brand. But if you don’t want to pay the extra $30 for customization (only for the Urban, there’s no fee on a custom Aqua), or if you simply really like one of the pre-made designs, no one’s judging you.
After all, they were crafted by watch design experts with one goal in mind. To sell and look good. And I think most of them hit the mark.
Add an additional strap to your order across materials such as alligator print leather, Cordura, calf leather, rally, and perlon as extras. An additional strap or two will give you a lot more versatility.
UNDONE has a quick purchase process and simple entry form for shipping information. Nothing too fancy, just enough to get the right info from you and send your watch on its way.
(Get 10% off with code TAM10)
If you pre-order your watch, there’s no refund available on it. Custom or fixed designs are able to be returned.
One thing that strikes glass-half-empty folks as bad is actually something I quite enjoy. They might charge you up to 10% of the watch value for return.
What’s good about that? It’s used to cover costs because they refuse to reuse materials, even if the package wasn’t opened. It may suck, but they scrap it and count it as a loss.
I’ve read enough horror stories of “new” watch purchases online before that I’m relieved in knowing that will never happen with an UNDONE watch.
When it comes to the warranty, I’m not a fan of the short 12-month window, but they’re excellent about coverage during that time.
They’ll repair the watch if there’s a manufacturing defect. If they can’t replace it, if the parts have gone out of production, then they’ll replace it with an upgraded watch. It’s like the most low-risk gambling ever.
Yes, but not on all models. You can get custom artwork on your Undone Aqua.
The artwork is a nice touch and builds on the brand’s desire to be truly unique, but obviously isn’t necessary to enjoy your Undone watch.
It’ll run you $50.00 for the first logo/art piece, and you’re restricted to getting it placed above the six o’clock position. Rotor customization is also $50.00.
For a full custom dial (including the option to replace the original 6, 9 or 12 markers with logos and embed textures on the dial) it’ll be $120.00.
I didn’t get custom artwork on mine, and I can confidently say that the lack of it hasn’t reduced my enjoyment of it. It’s really down to personal preference.
UNDONE offer refunds within 14 days of the date of purchase. They apply a 10% fee to all refunds.
UNDONE provides a 12-month warranty for the repair of any watches or parts due to manufacturing defects. The warranty doesn’t apply to accidental damages.
Shipping is free for all orders via E-Express Hong Kong Post. The average delivery time is 10 days.
Are UNDONE Watches Worth it?
UNDONE are a brand that focuses on nothing but watches.
That translates to craftsmanship with a hands-on approach. They’re known to have strong customer service and a willingness to work with their customers to solve any issues.
Their warranty is a bit weak in my opinion, especially considering I’ve purchased other timepieces with a standard five-year without an added cost.
But boil them down and strip away the flashy elements: they’re awesome looking watches, made from quality materials, and built to contour to your existing style. And for a custom piece, they’re delivered fast.
Everything comes back to your preference and the state-of-the-art Customizer.
I’ve bought watches and wish I could have undone my decision (I couldn’t resist). But with UNDONE, I know what I’m getting, and I know it’s going to be built on quality.
I don’t say this lightly given the raft of mid-range luxury watch options out there at this price point, but here I go:
UNDONE should be a very worthwhile contender for your next watch purchase.
UNDONE Discount Code
We’ve arranged an exclusive discount with the team at UNDONE for TAM readers: