REVIEW: Individual Design Ka La

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Until we were contacted by Mark Carson (and I saw Ariel’s video review here), I had not heard of the Hawaii-based company Individual Design – and I’m guessing that’s the same for many of you.  Well, let’s rectify this with a look at some of the models from the Ka La lineup, shall we?

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The most striking aspect of these watches is the case design.  You have two semi-circles flanking the top and bottom of the more-standard 43mm stainless steel case.  Aside from being of visual interest, they also serve as the lugs for mounting the strap.  In practice, I found that, while they’re not curved, per se, they did really help the watch to stay snugly on my wrist.

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Next up, of course, would be the large seconds disc in the middle of the dial in place of a seconds hand.  Why is it here?  Well, the phrase “ka la” means “the sun” in Hawaiian  so Mr. Carson has drawn inspiration from a sun dial – which would be a large disc, with a raised triangle (the indicator on the watch) to cast a shadow to mark the time.  Now, I will note, that we had some issues with this disc on our review samples.  In some cases, the disc will pop free, requiring repair.  In speaking to Mr. Carson about this, it is something they’re aware of and correcting in the assembly process, so if you were to buy one today, it should be a non-issue.

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The final striking item is the collection as a whole – with twelve variants, you really have a good bit of choice.  There’s a little checklist you can run through, mentally, to help narrow down which one you might want:

  • Case finish:  brushed, rose gold, or PVD
  • Dial color:  black or silver
  • Dial indices:  dots or Roman numerals

ETA 2824-2 300x300

With that narrowing, you can quickly hone in on what you might want.  Of course, there might not be the exact combo you want, but still, it’s a pretty complete mix.  Regardless of the finishing or dial you opt for, you’ll have an ETA 2824-2 movement ticking away inside that had some modification to the rotor (pictured above this paragraph), all visible through the exhibition caseback.  While you’re looking at that caseback, you’ll also catch the individual serialization that the model has.

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Rounding out the “standard” features of the watch, you’ll have a domed (and AR-coated) sapphire crystal up front, and a choice from a variety of different 20mm straps (carbon fiber, leather, crocodile, etc).

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For this review, we were presented with a variety, to get a feel for the different finishes and dial treatments (specifically, the 1012210311 and 10263 models).  For me personally, I end up liking the 10311 about the best – something about the rose gold finish along with the blue and white dial really worked for me – not to mention those large lumed pips.  Of course, the PVD case and/or Roman numerals definitely present a dressier feel, if that’s what you’d want to go for.

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So, is this the watch for you?  Certainly, at $1200, you’ve got a pretty wide open field for selecting a watch.  Here, you do have a “homegrown” design that I’ve not seen elsewhere, coupled with the reliability of the workhorse 2824 movement.  Those two combine for an attractive package (that is, if you dig the style).  Price aside, I could see adding one of these to my collection, just based on the uniqueness of the case.

Optional Koa Wood Case upgrade

Optional Koa Wood Case upgrade

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