Wait a minute, wait a minute – this is a post on a Kickstarter watch that is not written by Matt? That’s right, folks! Not to worry, he is still on the crowdfunding beat, this is just one that I took a particular shine to, so I jumped in to write it up. And yes, this is a project that cropped up before. That earlier project was trying to be a philanthropic effort, but Kickstarter does not allow those. Due to that, Azula Watches took a step back, rebranded and refocused, and came back with their watches. Without any further pre-amble, let’s jump in to see what the Azula Watches is all about.
If you were only reading down the spec sheet of the Azula watch, you might be tempted to dismiss it as just another quartz-driven three-hander that is jumping in on the Kickstarter bandwagon (and yeah, there are plenty of those). For us to even consider them to show up on the site, there has to be something of a hook to the watch, something that makes it stand out. For Azula Watches, that hook is fabric. While we sometimes see a fabric-like texture on a dial courtesy of carbon fiber, this is the first time I recall seeing fabric actually used on the dial. This fabric is not some dull-looking piece of cotton, either – this is some seriously vivid stuff.
Where this one clicked for me was the source of the fabric. It is fabric made by hand, the way it’s been done for a long, long time, from people across Southeast Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, and Laos are the countries called out). When it comes to our watches and accessories, we like to focus on support the small guys when we can, and you cannot get smaller than individuals weaving this fabric by hand. Ultimately, this makes the watch a sort of feel-good project, as you are supporting individual craftsman with your purchase. Perhaps I am just a sucker for that sort of Fair Trade verbiage, but I do like what they are doing in that regard.
If this was boring fabric, it would not make a lick of difference. Fortunately, these have some very vibrant colors, which I think makes for a great summery-feel type of a watch (or, if you happen to live in a warmer climate, like, say, Thailand, for instance). Over the top of that fabric you have polished numerals and indices, and a polished handset (the exception being the second hand, which is painted). This is a scenario where those polished hands work very well, as they seem to stand out crisply from the fabric of the dial. This is all set in a relatively thin stainless steel case (40mm x 7mm thick) that houses the Ronda 763 movement, and paired to a 20mm nylon strap. Hopefully we will see the fabric from the dial make its way into a strap at some point in the future from the brand.
Where the fabric does appear (aside from the dial) is in a carrying pouch that comes with the watch, in the same style as what you have on the dial. This is a nice value add, and would be a simple way to protect the watch in your drawer or, say, a gym bag. As the fabric is a cool piece of this project, I am hopeful they will incorporate into some other watch-related things (such as the strap, as a point in case). It’s something I’ve inquired about, and we’ll see what shakes out.
Sure, there are plenty who might raise their nose at “just another” quartz three-hander. However, I am fully cognizant that there are many folks out there who may not really care about all the intricacies of a mechanical movement. These are people who just want a reliable watch to tell the time (which quartz is perfect for) and may be more concerned about a bold look than anything else. With the Azula Watches, you get precisely that. Starting off with a fairly generically-styled case, you get a hefty dose of something different with the fabric. When you consider that the reward tiers start at a very affordable $55, there is definitely a compelling argument to be made. Of course, as Matt always says, this is Kickstarter, so definitely be aware of all that the crowdfunding entails. For my part, I hope this project succeeds (funding closes August 30), because having this fabric out in the world would be a very good thing. azulawatches.com
- Brand & Model: Azula Watch (model names are Chonburi, Jambi, Jakarta, and Kediri, named for the cities the fabric originates from)
- Price: tiers start at $55
- Who we think it might be for: This is for someone who just wants an accurate watch with a bold splash of color
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: I love the look of the texture (and color) of the fabric, so yeah, it is seriously tempting
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Get that fabric worked into a coordinating (or at least complimenting) strap
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: The fabric and the story behind it