Like the recent Habring² Erwin “Star”, the Kudoke 2 “Zodiac” was conceived to encapsulate the brand’s work while being different enough to stand apart from its other watches.
Limited to 21 pieces (and one prototype), the Zodiac is the first watch in the brand’s Handwerk collection that is fully engraved on the front and back – entirely hand engraved in fact, with the only machine engraving on the watch being the markings on the rim of the case back.
This started with the simple fact that I was impressed with the Kudoke 2 when I first saw it in 2019. The watch also won the Petite Aiguille prize at the year’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG).
Equally important was the fact that I appreciate the specialised, artisanal nature of the Dresden-based brand, which is essentially a husband-and-wife enterprise led by by Stefan and Ev Kudoke.
That said, I did wish the dial of the Kudoke 2 had more detail. And at the same time, Kudoke historically specialised in hand-engraved movements, which made it was obvious the solution was to enhance the Kudoke 2 with engraved decoration.
The starting point of the Zodiac was the day-and-night indicator on the standard Kudoke 2 – it is my favourite element and had to be retained. And its celestial-Art Deco would influence the rest of the Zodiac’s design.
The brief was straightforward: custom numerals for a dial in the form the 12 signs of the zodiac that originated in Babylon and Ancient Greece. After a brief discussion and several sketches, Lee conceived a brilliant series of custom emblems for each hour numeral.
Each hour emblem represents a zodiac sign while incorporating the respective Roman numeral. Three, for instance, is represented by Cancer with “III” within, while ten is Aquarius containing a “X”. And “12” takes the form of the sign of Aries replacing the moon on the day-and-night disc.
And that should have been the end of the design exercise since my original concept was only a custom dial. But I knew that the unique dial aesthetics had to be reflected on the movement, or the disparity would have bugged me to no end.
Once again Lee’s talents were called into service, this time to reimagine the movement decoration such that it echoed the dial both in terms of style and theme. Needless to say, Lee successfully captured the dial with a motif that’s been hand engraved on the bridges and balance cock.
The movement continues the celestial-Art Deco aesthetic – with a hint of vintage comic art – and subtly incorporates symbols representing the planet of the solar system. For example, the sphere with an extended arrow that sits beside the barrel ratchet wheel symbolises Mars.
The decorative details
With Lee’s hour emblems, the next step was execution. The texture and depth of the dial was going to be vital in order for the emblems to stand out. So I specified a raised chapter ring to highlight the emblems, while having a heavily granular centre to contrast with the finer texture of the chapter ring. So the dial is made up of up of four parts, including the applied plate bearing the hand-engraved brand name.
At the same time, I requested the removal of all numbers on the dial, which as a result is entirely pictorial. The numerals for the 24-hour, day-and-night scale on the standard Kudoke 2 have been done away with, and replaced with a tiny sun and moon.
The numerals are hand engraved in relief on the chapter ring, which sits on the dial base that’s been stamped to create an effect that resembles extremely granular frosting. The result is a dial with a multitude of textures – and a lot of hand engraving.
Like the dial, the movement is hand engraved in relief, and plated in three colours for contrast – rose gold for the balance cock, rhodium for the raised engraving, and rhodium for the recessed, grained areas.
Mechanically it is identical to the movement found in the standard model. It’s hand wound with a 46 hour power reserve, while its architecture is inspired by 18th century English pocket watches, explaining the elongated balance cock.
Titanium and gold
The final piece of the puzzle was the case. Here I opted for titanium, not so much because of its physical properties – although its lightness is appealing – but because of its grey tone. The colour of the metal was the idea fit for the finishes on the dial and movement.
This makes the Zodiac the first Kudoke to have a titanium case, instead of steel or gold as is the norm.
Because of the dial design and colour, a friend suggested a two-tone case. Despite being an unorthodox idea, I realised a two-tone case was a perfect complement to the dial.
So there will be ten two-tone cases in the edition, made up of a titanium case middle and case back matched with the bezel and crown in 18k rose gold.
The dimensions remain identical to the standard Kudoke case, which is 39 mm in diameter and 10.7 mm high.
One final detail worth mentioning is the strap. Given the textures of the dial, it was apparent that Zodiac had to go with a textured strap. Suede leather was my first choice, but I realised it was impractical given its low resistance to wear and moisture.
The alternative was Alcantara, the synthetic textile most commonly found in the interiors of cars. It’s similar to suede but extremely hard wearing, and in dark grey it was a perfect match for the dial.
Payment and delivery
The Kudoke 2 “Zodiac” is US$17,800 in titanium, and US$19,500 in two-tone titanium and rose gold (and in Singapore dollars they are S$23,900 and S$26,000 respectively).
A 30% deposit is due now, with the balance at the time of delivery. The watches will be delivered in three batches – mid November, end November, and mid December.
Specifications and price
Case diameter: 39 mm
Height: 10.7 mm
Material: Titanium, brushed and polished finish; option of 18k rose gold bezel and crown
Water resistance: 50 m
Movement: Kalibre 1-24H
Features: Hours, minutes, and 24-hour indicator at 12 o’clock
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 46 hours
Strap: Alcantara, hand-stitched, with titanium pin buckle
Limited edition: 21 pieces, comprised of nine two tone and 12 in titanium, plus one two-tone prototype
Price: US$17,800 in titanium, and US$19,500 in two-tone titanium and rose gold
(And in Singapore dollars, S$23,900 and S$26,000 respectively)
Update: Sold out. Thank you for the interest.
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