When it comes to the watches that collectors are on the search for, materials can often play a critical role. While that often focuses on the precious metals, there have been an interesting mix of other materials as of late. Some of you likely have experienced a titanium watch, or one with some ceramic on it (usually a bezel), or perhaps even forged carbon fiber. Those materials generally show up on the higher-end watches. What if there was an affordable watch that managed to combine all three? That’s what the Vilhelm Elemental is going for.
The Vilhelm Elemental is a watch I came across on Kickstarter, and even before I read in to the materials being used, my eye was drawn to the unique case shape. Then again, when you have a 43mm measurement, you have some room to experiment a bit. Here, forged carbon makes up the main case body (with an inner steel sleeve for water resistance), topped by a zirconium oxide ceramic bezel, and finished out with grade 5 titanium on the lugs and crown guards. While these are all quite different materials, they come together as the matte grey and black of the three mix together quite well; the various angles and cutouts ensure that the transition from one material to another is not visually jarring.
With the Vilhelm Elemental, they have done their best to make a dial that rises up to the level that the triple-material case puts the watch at. The dial itself has four components to it (a sunburst-finish lower level, a matte finish layer over that, polished hour indices, and a sandblasted chapter ring). The dial is not bad (and, actually, I quite like the cobalt blue variant); it just does not wow me quite as much as the case itself does. Perhaps if the layered construction had mixed in one of the three materials, or if lume showed up somewhere (outlining the edges of the cutouts, for instance). Speaking of lume, the brand notes that the prototype does not have it, but they plan to have Superluminova applied to the skeletonized handset.
After the design, the best thing about the Vilhelm Elemental is how affordable it is. At the time of this writing, there were still early bird levels at the $599 pricepoint (against an expected MSRP of $1000), which is on the higher side for a Miyota 9015-powered watch – until you consider the materials in play. Our previous low-cost champion for forged carbon was the Tempest One, and the Vilhelm Elemental manages to undercut that by almost a third, while putting ceramic and titanium into the mix. Perhaps the industrial look of the watch won’t be for everyone, but I suspect the mix of materials will win people over. If you are interested in backing the Vilhelm Elemental, you can check out the project page here – just do so before it closes up on April 30th. And if you do back the project, let us know in the comments – we’d be interested in hearing your thoughts once you have your own Vilhelm Elemental later this year. vilhelmwatches.com
Tech Specs from Vilhelm Watches
- 43mm Tri Material case construction. 14.5mm Thick. 24mm Strap width
- Forged carbon main case
- Ceramic ( Zirconium Oxide ) bezel impervious to scratches
- Titanium lugs and crown guard for lightweight strength
- Titanium screw down caseback with display
- Sapphire crystal
- Miyota 9015 movement
- 100m water resistance with screw down crown
- 4 layer dial with BGW9 lume hands
- 1 year international warranty