Introducing the Kudoke 2 “Zodiac” – SJX Edition Two

Hand-engraved celestial Art Deco.

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.

Origins

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.

“Kudoke” is hand engraved on the applied plaque whereas on the standard model it is machine engraved

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 day and night scale with a tiny crescent at 12 o’clock and a tiny sun at six

With that in mind, I approached Lee Yuen-Rapati in mid 2020, a Canadian illustrator better known as One Hour Watch. His portfolio includes custom fonts for Habring² and J.N. Shapiro.

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.

Bespoke symbols

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.

The Zodiac symbols and Roman numerals. Image – Lee Yuen-Rapati

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 symbols depicted on the bridges. Image – Lee Yuen-Rapati 

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 raised chapter ring for the hours gives the dial substantial depth

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.

Kudoke’s signature infinity hour hand was naturally retained

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.

The balance cock is plated in rose gold and engraved with a wheel symbol that represents Earth

Each watch is numbered on the movement with a plaque that’s hand engraved

The movement took two tries to get right: my original idea of a rhodium-plated barrel bridge matched with a yellow-gold balance cock (left) lacked contrast, so I decided to go for the high contrast look you see on the final version of the watch (right)

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.

The all titanium version

The titanium case middle is brushed on the flanks and polished on the front

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.

The two-tone Zodiac

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.

The engraving on the case back is slightly deeper than on the standard models, giving it greater definition


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
Crystal: Sapphire
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)
Winding: Hand-wound
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)

Click here to express interest.

Update: Sold out. Thank you for the interest.


 

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Swatch Unveils the Halloween Capsule Collection

Glow-in-the-dark from end to end.

Thematic capsule collections are a Swatch favourite, with recent launches including watches dedicated to the latest James Bond film and NASA. With hyper-efficient, automated manufacturing and simply constructed watches, Swatch is able to keep current with its thematic collections.

And now with Halloween around the corner, Swatch has just taken the covers off the line up dedicated to the ghoulish celebration – the Halloween Capsule Collection, made up of a pair of watches that are glow-in-the-dark and appear entirely different from day to night.

Your Time is Coming (left), and Run But You Can’t Hide

Initial thoughts

Glow-in-the-dark watches are cool because they light up in the dark. Swatch takes the concept and goes big with the Halloween pair – the watches are a bold 47 mm in diameter and matched with straps that are entirely “lumed”.

The Halloween pair also stand out for the contrast between their day and night looks, a characteristic that makes them all the more striking and attractive. During the day, the dials are surprisingly low-key, with the faces barely visible.

The faces on the dials only reveal themselves at night

And both watches are clearly all about design. The dials are both smartly streamlined, with as few time-telling elements as possible – there are neither hours markers nor a date, or even a seconds hand Even the hands are thin and skeletonised. The hands do the job, but are not quite as inventive as the floating, “ghost” hands found in an prior Swatch Halloween edition.

Admittedly, glow-in-the-dark watches are not novel – A. Lange. & Söhne just launched the Zeitwerk Lumen for instance – the Halloween watches immediately distinguishes themselves with an affordable price tag that’s just US$120. Both are bona fide fun watches.

Day and night

Between the two, the red-dial version is more subtle, at least when the lights are on. Clearly modelled on the titular clown of Stephen King’s It, the dial is in a muted, dark red, while the strap is patterned but monochromatic. During the day, the clown’s face is blacked out, save for the eyes and teeth in grey.

The composition of the “lume” is smartly chosen, with unusual colours such as purple and yellow, leaving it more spooky than a typical dial. And at a distance, the complex dial motif might even pass off as the backlit face of a smartwatch.

Either of two statements on the bezel are visible depending on the light

The green dial is similarly subtle during the day, but the strap stands out more with its mint-green pattern.

And the entire watch is exuberant at night, with the dial bearing a skull inspired by Día de Muertos, the Mexican festival that celebrates the departed, surrounded by radiating lines that bring to mind a disco ball.


Key Facts and Price

Swatch Halloween Capsule Collection
Ref. SB01B128 (Your Time is Coming)
Ref. SB01B129 (Run But You Can’t Hide)

Diameter: 47 mm
Height: Unavailable
Material: Plastic
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Quartz
Functions: Hours and minutes

Strap: Silicon

Availability: Now at Swatch stores  online boutique
Price: US$120, or 179 Singapore dollars

For more, visit Swatch.com.


 

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