Those of us who are in to watches (and that is why you are here, is it not?) tend to like to kinetics on our watches. In other words, we like to see movement. This commonly takes the form of a seconds hand (central or sub), or maybe even a view through the dial at the balance wheel doing its thing. With the seconds hand, we generally do not expect anything all that different from standard handsets. Sure, there are different designs and shapes, but nothing unique in terms of presentation. Well, that is, until we ran across the Zinvo Blade.
As you can tell from the photos, the Zinvo Blade has no seconds hand, but instead has a rotating propeller blade motif (see it in action here). What this means is that there is a clear disc (on which the blades are printed) mounted on the central arbor in place of a seconds hand. This is not the first time we have seen discs used, but it is the first time I have seen it combined with a traditional handset. In practice, this means you get the effect that you see with an airplane propeller when the film speed is different than the rotation, or a strobe light is utilized. You see a repeating pattern of the blade rotating around and around. Here, that strobe light comparison is the most accurate, as there is a slight stutter as the Miyota movement ticks the seconds down.
Then again, that stutter really is only noticeable when you watch the dial closely. What was more of a distraction to me was how opaque the blades were printed on the dial. Wisely, Zinvo did decide to extend the tips of the hands out past the outer edge of the disc, so you could always see them. For my tastes, though, I would much rather be able to see the hands at all times. To that end, I think the Zinvo Blade would be better served by having those blades be more towards the translucent side of things, rather than fully opaque as they are here. The white handset does as best as it can to keep visible for reading the time at a glance, but it is a struggle.
Speaking of those hands, one might think that they would be lumed, being completely and uniformly white. I was surprised, however, they were not. Sure, it would be difficult to tell the time in the dark with the opaque blades, but if they iterate to translucence, then some lume would definitely make sense. That also means that one of my favorite design features, the drilled out “pips” on the inner bezel would be ready and primed for some luminous material as well. That brings me to something I thought was really well-done on the Zinvo Blade – its case.
The 44mm stainless steel case has some rather nice machining work done on it. You notice it first on that aforementioned inner bezel, which serves as a nice “negative space” indication of the hours; those same circles show up on the crown as well. The machined touches also appear on the sides of the case, with three matte-finish grooves cut into the sides, completely encircling the case. This then makes sense that the lugs are mounted onto the case by screws (rather than being integral). At first, you might think they were able to rotate a bit. While they don’t, I do not feel it’s a strike against the Zinvo Blade. It still gives a unique look to the piece, and the lugs do sort of feel like some sort of airplane part that was repurposed (the shape reminds of the profile of a wing).
I found that the lugs worked quite well to hold the Zinvo Blade on my wrist comfortably; the 100g weight also helped in that regard. The watch accompanied me to the office and around the house on the weekends, and it worked well. Most who noticed it were taken by the spinning blades under the sapphire crystal, and I get that – it is visually quite arresting. It does hamper the at-a-glance readability; teaching yourself to read the watch (looking for the tips of the hands) is a short learning curve, and doable. While there are some issues, I feel, with the design of the Zinvo Blade, what was done well, combined with an exceptional price – $199 – makes for a compelling watch to consider. The Zinvo Blade is definitely an affordable conversation piece. Not a perfect one, but an interesting one. zinvowatches.com
- Brand & Model: Zinvo Blade
- Price: $199
- Who’s it for?: You have been on the hunt for an aviation-inspired watch that is not an aviator
- Would I wear it?: While fun for a bit, this is not one I would consider for long-term wear
- What I’d change: Make the printed blades a bit more translucent
- The best thing about it: Other than the kinetic display, it would be the machined touches on the case
Tech Specs from Zinvo
- Case: 44mm, stainless steel; exhibition case back
- Movement: Miyota 8215 automatic
- Crystal: sapphire
- WR: 100m
- Strap: Italian leather; red contrast stitching