Undone are reaching a point of ubiquity in the microbrand world where it is probably prudent to have tried one on the wrist. With, of course, one prevailing question in mind – how could these watches deliver on their looks? We ordered a couple in. Because, somehow Undone seem able to keep up a huge variety in designs whilst giving each one the right amount of attention to detail, from jeans-and-tshirt divers to lavishly decorated dress pieces. Quality, intrigue, and customisability are all distinct traits of the eclectic brand, and none of that changes for their art deco-inspired chronograph, the Vintage Killy. As one of their most popular designs, it’s a great place to start.
There’s no denying that for the Vintage Killy, the dial is the star of the show. The cream tone is phenomenally warm and inviting, with the domed crystal softly distorting the perimeter an ideal amount. The blue tachymeter matches the blue leaf hands and frames them perfectly, while the red telemetre track provides just enough contrast of colour to enhance the charm of the watch.
The art deco numerals are incredibly characterful, making you feel as though you’ve just stepped into the 1927 film Metropolis. As with all of their watches, the UNDONE logo is placed at the very bottom of 6 o’clock. This is especially helpful with the Vintage Killy, as the modern appearance of the bold sans-serif font would look a bit out of place otherwise.
When fans of vintage reissues see the words ‘sized up for modern tastes’, a shudder runs down our spine. Yes, this chronograph has been brought up to 40mm in diameter from the ~36mm it would have been had it been truly from the ’30s, however a deceptively short lug-to-lug measurement of 47.6mm keeps the constraints of the watch within even a small wrist, holding onto that old-world wearability.
This is helped by the wonderful stepped bezel, which shrinks the dial real estate to a faithful 34mm, and proves that real thought went into the design of the watch as a whole. The onion crown, signed with an etched ‘U’ logo, also contributes to authenticity of the time period. With a thickness of 12mm, the versatility of the watch is expansive from suits to hoodies, but swimming should be avoided with a water resistance of 30m.
Seiko’s VK61 Mecha-Quartz movement needs almost no introduction, but it is really the perfect choice for any affordable chronograph trying to look pre-1970s. Although the necessity for a battery change every three years or so can slightly spoil the illusion of being a true antique, the tactility of the pushers and the high-beat sweep of the chronograph hands can absolutely trick your brain into getting that same satisfaction. Of course, the quartz side of the hybrid has its benefits, too. Instead of +/- 20 seconds per day, how about per month? The servicing or replacement costs are also very competitive. It’s no surprise that the VK61 is as ubiquitous for budget chronographs as the NH35 is for three-handers. If you want, you can even get a display caseback, which offers an intriguingly rare view into an often-hidden movement.
Suede seems to be growing in popularity in the microbrand world of late, and the Vintage Killy’s choice is a glowing example of why. The sandy texture and colour of the beige leather straddles the line between dressy and playful extraordinarily well, ensuring that this combo can be worn in any social situation. Quick-release spring bars make swapping straps a breeze should you feel the need to change it up, to a steel mesh bracelet, for example. With 20mm lug widths, the options for replacements are truly endless.
It’s clear that this isn’t just another vintage-inspired dial thrown into a standard production case. The sculpting of the multi-faceted case, and the way the small details have been carried out, proves that Undone have gone out of their way to create a timepiece honouring the spirit of those early chronographs. Of course, one of the best parts about Undone is the ability to customise. For example, swapping out the faux-blued hands to steel if you’re not a fan. As is, the Vintage Killy is $450AUD, and can now be bought from the Time+Tide Marketplace.