MICRO MONDAYS: The Arken Alterum is a dive-ready GMT in lightweight titaniumFergus Nash
After two years of waiting, fans of the Arken Instrumentum have finally received a followup from the microbrand. At the time, it was one of the best-specced titanium divers around for the money, and the new Arken Alterum has a lot to live up to. Now that titanium has become a lot more prevalent in affordable watches, you don’t need to search for long to find something that ticks all the boxes. That said, the Arken Alterum is packed with personality and functionality in a dive-ready GMT package.
Despite having 200m water resistance and screw-down crown, the Arken Alterum is not truly intended to be a dive watch. With a fixed bezel and refined case design, the Alterum is much more suited to being a general purpose sports watch that can go anywhere, and do anything. Titanium is about 50% lighter than steel which gives it a comfort advantage in heat and active environments, but it’s also softer and easier to scratch. Arken have dealt with that by giving the case a scratch-resistant coating, so you don’t need to baby it in the outdoors or at the desk.
The case shape is quite contemporary with its amalgamation of curves and chamfers, however the wings and the use of an integrated strap design do harken back to some 1970s design elements. That nylon strap does have a quick-exchange system, so you can swap it out for the titanium bracelet of the Instrumentum if you already own it. The diameter of the bezel is 38mm with a lug-to-lug of 46mm, ensuring a comfortable fit on most wrists even though the wings do expand its width and presence. The 13mm thickness is also pretty respectable for a watch like this, and should sit nicely thanks to the general slope of the case.
The name Arken Alterum does sound a lot like a black metal album, and the aesthetic that Arken lean into isn’t too far off from that either. The gravelly texture on the dial contrasts the crisp white printing, with teardrop-shape indices at the quarters leaning in to a refined aggression. That biting personality is also reflected in the pointer date hand, as well as the hybrid sword and alpha hand set which is blacked out to highlight the luminous paint.
Functionally, it’s almost easy to forget that this watch has three complications. The GMT hand with its lollipop pointer is slender and doesn’t get in the way of anything else while remaining legible, especially thanks to the colour of orange or blue depending on the dial choice. The blue is paired with the black dial option, while the orange stands out above anthracite grey. That said, at the time of writing the grey dial is currently sold out. There are also two holes on either side of the dial, serving as an AM/PM indicator depending on which side is highlighted white.
The Arken Alterum utilises a modified version of the Miyota 9015 movement. The 9000 series is Miyota’s premium range of calibers, featuring respectable accuracies and smooth 4Hz sweeps. Most microbrands who claim to modify their movements are simply engraving their logo onto the automatic winding rotor, however Arken have actually developed their own module for the Miyota base. It adds the GMT and am/pm functionality in a unique way, allowing you to adjust the local time via the crown while the home time (the fourth hand) remains still. Turning the crown anti-clockwise progresses both of the hour hands, so that you can set the difference between the two and then get both time zones where you need them to be. It’s a slightly convoluted system that might take some getting used to, but the trade off is worth it considering how affordable this watch is. The screw-down pusher at 4 o’clock is used for setting the pointer date, which was separated from the crown operations to make room for adjusting the GMT display.
The Arken Alterum pricing and availability:
Each of the Arken Alterum colours are being produced up to 200 units, however they are not specifically limited so there may be future production runs. The anthracite grey model has already sold out. Price: £599.99
|Case Dimensions||38mm x 46mm|
|Case Material||Titanium with anti-scratch coating|
|Dial||Black or grey|
|Strap||Quick-release integrated nylon strap|
|Movement||Modified Miyota 9015|
|Power Reserve||42 hours|
|Availability||Available now (grey sold out)|