SaStek — hands-on review and Q&A with the founder
You probably arrived on this page because you saw the picture of a SaStek and you are curious to find out more about this unconventional watch. Actually, I was in the same situation as you are now. When I first came across a picture of a SaStek, it really got me excited. It is yet another example of a microbrand being bold and innovative. These days, if you are looking for an original design, forget the mainstream brands, you have to look either at high-end independent watchmakers, if your pocket can handle them, or microbrands, such as SAStek. I asked, Saket Sharma, the founder and designer of SAStek, which brands influenced him:
I like watch brands that are doing something different in the world of watchmaking. I am inspired by the work of brands such as Urwerk, HYT and MB&F. However, one watch that stands outs amongst all is the Bulova Accutron Spaceview. The engineering of using tuning fork to power a movement was a remarkable feat for the time and for me is the definition of pushing the boundaries of engineering. In terms of a reference for SaStek, I would consider a brand like Bell & Ross. They create contemporary, industrial timepieces which make quite a bold statement. This is something I aspire towards with SaStek.
When he is not thinking about unique watch designs, Saket is an automotive engineer responsible for leading a team, designing chassis components for some of most famous British and German OEMs. As every engineer, he’s the kind of guy interested in how things work, cars, plains or watches… I asked him about his motives behind starting a new watch brand:
I had taken part in crowdfunding MVMT watches. At that time it was a watch design that I thought looked cool so I pledged for one. Within a couple of years,they grow from a crowdfunding idea into a brand which was quite inspiring. My inclination towards mechanical things always made me come up with new ideas for watches but they remained ideas sketched on a piece of paper, nothing more. However, the rise of crowdfunding got me thinking of making these designs available as a product that like-minded buyers could buy. Having an engineering background, I was quite comfortable with technical details and had past experience of delivering quality components. I go by the motto, “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, so I decided to setup SaStek and here we are a few days into our Kickstarter campaign.
Let’s talk about the watch. The prototype Saket sent me for this review is called the Arancio, Italian for orange, because of the black PVD coated case, black dial with orange accents, which is one of the seven colour combinations available in the debut collection. The watch arrived in an improvised box, so I can’t tell you much about the packaging of the production model, but the first thing that hit me was the size of the watch. Would have I been less absorbed by the design, I have not overlooked the specs regarding the dimensions of this watch. It has a diameter of 44mm, with a length of 52mm, which is fairly large for my small wrist, yet its weight makes it less intimidating. Even if it’s a stainless steel watch with an automatic movement, it feels fairly light and once I strapped it on, the size did not bother me anymore. The way the crown is placed at 4 o’clock, and the shape of the lugs, both help a lot with the comfort of wearing a SaStek.
Now the fun part, the dial. The main idea with the SaStek is that the there is only the hour hand kept as a hand. The minute hand is replaced by a disk, and the second hand is replaced by disk representing the spinner of a jet engine. If reading the hour is really easy thanks to the high contrast of the white numerals on the black concentric guilloche dial and the bold triangle shape of the hand, I had to get used to reading the minutes. Because the minute disk is rotating clockwise and the hand is a static pointer, the minutes are marked in reverse order, which at the beginning was a bit unsettling. It took me some time to ignore the order of the numbers and focus on the numeral at the centre. Usually, I don’t want a watch to make me think, but with a SaStek on my wrist, I had to think outside the box, which is great if you are working in a creative field, as I am. Besides the way the dial is designed, the fonts, the logo, even the colours — I absolutely love this black and orange combo — are giving the SaStek a techy personality.
The solid back of the SaStek is decorated with the frontal view of a fighter jet pilot, another design touch that makes this watch really cool.
Every SaStek is matched with a leather strap that picks up the colour theme of the watch with the stitching. The prototype did not have any branding on the buckle, but production models will have the SaStek logo engraved on it.
As I’m writing this review, there are still 20 days left of the SaStek Kickstarter campaign, with “Early Bird” prices at £265, about $460 CAD, which is a fair price for an automatic watch with a unique design.
A microbrand is like a startup, one might be curious to know what are the long-term plans of the company, so I asked Saket about upcoming collections and the future of SaStek:
I have quite a few ideas that are unique and interesting which would be the basis for future models. I would aim to take customer feedback on board for future collections with respect to size, wearability etc, but feature SaStek’s unique point of view.
The long term plan is to go ahead gradually. My preference is to release a thought-through, unique collection once a year to make sure I can do justice to the design, delivery and aftersales aspects. The goal is to build an audience that is excited about our products and future releases.
Well Saket, you definitely got me excited!