Though it seems to have lost some of it’s luster and momentum lately, there is no denying that steampunk styling is an active, well, “thing”, for lack of a better term. This is an aesthetic that I had some interest in some years ago, and I still look keenly upon steampunk reimaginings of things. Today, we have a pocket watch – the Starling Watch Inception – that goes for a steampunk feel with an interesting bit of very modern technology hidden under the dial.


Yes, you read that right – the Starling Watch Inception is a pocket watch. Realistically, if someone is going for that steampunk look (hopefully in a costume of some sort) a pocketwatch makes the most sense, as that is the closest thing that would make some sort of sense for the era. If they had simply designed a pocket watch that, well, was the design we see here without the light show hiding under the dial, well, then it is not a watch you would be reading about on these pages. So, let’s start with the watch itself.


The Starling Watch Inception is a quartz driven pocketwatch with delicate filigreed hands. The time is indicated via the cover of the pocket watch, which has been carved out so you can read the time without actually opening the cover. This works sort of ok. The problem here is that the cover – while not heavy by any means – has much more visual weight than the very light and airy handset. This translates into hands that can be easily obscured by the cover. If that is indeed the case, and you want to see the time, then you can just pop open the cover.


This reveals the milky-white dial of the Starling Watch Inception – provided its little tech secret has not been triggered. If it is (and I triggered it pretty easily, even if I did not want to), then you are greeted by an ever-changing light show. The lighting is, frankly, why we brought this watch in for review. It is a very clever system, and is a fun visual treat, whether the cover of the Starling Watch Inception is open or closed. This cycles through, blending from one color to the next, with four LEDs mounted under the dial. While this was interesting to watch, I did find myself wishing I could lock it into a particular hue (say, blue) and just have it stick within that, acting as a more standard backlight for reading the time in the dark. Of course, you can still read it well enough in the dark, provided the cover is open.


As you would expect for a pocket watch, you can handily carry the Starling Watch Inception via a fob and chain. For those not used to wearing waist coats (aka a vest), you can just as easily hook the chain to your belt, and have the Starling Watch Inception tucked away in a pocket of your pants. Alternately, there is an additional loop that you can put onto the crown that will allow the Starling Watch Inception to lay flat when put onto the included chain (for wearing as a pendant around your neck) or onto a heavy-duty pin (which is not included) turning it into a brooch.



Coming in at an asking price of $99, the Starling Watch Inception is very much a gadgety bit of costume jewelry. I mean that in the sense that, rather than being used as an every day sort of a timekeeper (which you could do, I suppose, if you really want to) this is more the sort of thing that seems much more targeted to those who frequently are in steampunk costumes and want a (pocket) watch to go with. Perhaps as the center of your next clockwork Iron Man interpretation, perhaps. It may be of note that there is a story line associated with this watch, and the other five that are part of the Starling family. If you were so inclined, if you collect all six (at a discount of 15%), you will find that the resin case that comes with the watch link together to form a hexagon. As for myself, while I did not particularly find myself drawn to carrying the watch as a timekeeper, I had quite a bit of fun playing around with the Chillovean lighting system built in to the Starling Watch Inception.


Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: Starling Watch Inception
  • Price: $99
  • Who’s it for?: You’re super in to steampunk, and you do not relish the idea of creating your own themed watch
  • Would I wear it?: Not so much. Fun to play with, but the utility was limited for me
  • What I’d change: A way to lock in a particular hue would be appreciated. Also, making it easier to read the time while the cover is closed would be of benefit.
  • The best thing about it: For this, it is the Chillovean lighting system, hands down.

By Patrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

3 thoughts on “Going Steampunk with the Starling Watch Inception”
  1. Dear Patrick, a word of thanks and appreciation for your review. I am the STARLING inventor. It is so pleasing to know that the Inception watch made a good impression with you. People ask me where the name Chillovean comes from? It’s a name I created after an experience at a crowded airport last year. I met a woman who was having a panic attack dealing with the crush of people around her. I gave her my STARLING Rewind watch – one of the other 6 designs. The lights helped her chill and find a sense of calm. She was able to make it through the flight. I wish you all the best! -Frank

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