It was on Microbrand Watches Facebook group that I discovered this project that brings together Elegantsis, a Taiwan-based watch brand with JSK Moto, a motorcycle design company from California. It was the red model, the Rhodium Omega that really caught my attention with its bold racing attitude. It looked like a watch that craves for open roads with no speed limits. Attractive design, interesting specs, this was a watch I wanted to try out and they agreed to lend me a prototype to do a hands-on (p)review. The model that I received was the Obsidian Shadow, a with matt, black PVD coated case and dark gun-metal dial, seeing it in person, immediately reminded me those badass motorcycles with matt black paint, with guys all dressed in black slaloming between cars.
There are so many watches out there inspired by cars, but when it comes to motorcycles there are not that many choices. OK, there is the Tudor Fastrider collection, the Tissot MotoGP and a few special edition models from other large brands, but when it comes to microbrands, I find the Elegantsis JSK Moto collaboration a very welcomed initiative as they bring to the motorcycling crowd an affordable way to wear their heart on their… wrist.
Let’s go through the many details that the Obsidian Shadow packs. First of all, it was delivered in a sturdy black hard case that also included a pair of rubber straps, the warranty card and a Wrench Tool Key Fob, but remember this is not the final production model. On their Kickstarter page, they show a slightly upgraded packaging that also includes, among other things, a handy strap changing tool and extra spring bars.
I have a small wrist and in general, I try to steer away from anything larger than 42 mm. The Elegantsis JSK Moto is 47 mm, way out of my league, yet when I strapped it on, it felt comfortable and during the past two weeks or so that I was wearing, I never had the impression that it would be bigger than my other watches. I have to recognize that here in Montreal, we had an unusually warm September and I was always wearing it with short sleeve shirts or t-shirts and I never wore it with a long sleeve shirt. It’s 15 mm heigh, so even its proportions are far from a dress watch that has to slide under a cuff.
I liked the way the lugs are designed, probably one the main reasons that I could wear it without problems — they embrace my wrist and the watch can be strapped down steadily. The screw-down crown is fantastic, very easy to operate and its size is proportional with the rest of the watch.
The bezel is quite narrow leaving more space for the dial but at the same time, there is very little room for the numerals that are printed in white. I’m not sure, is it the font used for these numerals or the fact that this is a prototype, the numbers are a bit fuzzy, I wish the printing would be crispier.
The dial, with its many details, is by far the most interesting part of the watch. The hours and minutes hands are custom made and lume coated, just as some of the indexes. Actually, there is very little contrast between the different elements of the dial, yet reading the time is easy. The designer played in a very smart way with the different textures to create a dial that has so many little elements, yet it doesn’t look busy. The brake disk-like section of the dial is the one that reminds me a motorcycle, but I also enjoy the way that a large part of the date wheel is visible, with a window at 6 o’clock. Move the watch around and the light will bounce back in different ways on the many elements of the dial. Hat tip to the designer for solving a challenging design problem in such an elegant way.
They nailed the case back too! Although the production model will have a more detailed case back featuring the JSK logo, I really like what they did here.
I preferred wearing the watch with the thick leather strap that has a rather unusual design — part of it is covered by a fabric that I’m not sure if it plays any role in making the strap more durable but for sure, it looks cool. The buckle is polished black, I would have preferred it to be matt, just like the rest of the watch.
Elegantsis and JSK Moto just finished successfully their crowdfunding on Kickstarter and they are expecting to start shipping early next year. The full retail price is expected to be US$520 with a Seiko NH35 or US$1,010 with a Swiss Sellita SW200-1 movement. Great value considering all the effort that went into the design of this watch. This is not another watch with off-the-shelf parts, but an original design for the motorcycling crowd.
Technical specifications of the reviewed model
Name: elegantsis x JSK moto – JX65AS
Case: 316L stainless steel with black PVD coating
Diameter: 47 mm
Height: 15 mm
Lug-to-lug: 56 mm
Lug width: 24 mm
Movement: automatic Seiko NH35A
Crystal: AR coated sapphire
Water resistance: 100 m
Strap: Italian calfskin