While the Asians are taking steam away from the Europeans when it comes to manufacturing watches, the power houses of design and style remains in the West. True style innovation and experimentation on the most unique levels perseveres in the talents of those people who first made the watch industry what it is today. Still, it is impossible to view the modern watch making world without seeing the East, and those who physically make most of the watches, or at least parts of the watches that we buy.
A new watch from a new company called Red8 celebrates this concept. The idea comes from a European man with deep experience in the watch making world, while the watch is produced, proudly so, in Asian, and with a Japanese movement. The Red8 watch is more than just some new style of watch, it is a statement and closer to new concept of watch. One thing in recent pop culture reminds me of what the Red8 watch is all about. Remember the craze that Lance Armstrong’s yellow “Livestrong” rubber bracelet made. You saw just so many people wearing them. Then you saw legions of other companies take the same concept and make it their own. It was a fun way of accessorizing your look with a message.
Part of the message of the Red8 watch is written right on the bezel, and there are several messages to choose from. Better yet, the company holds monthly competitions for the best new four words to place on the bezels. The winner receives a free watch as I understand it. It is a cute concept, and the bezel, being a diver’s bezel, still rotates. So you have a watch with many colors and message combinations to choose from. It is further one of the only true “unisex watches” insofar that depending on the color, it will look good on a man or a woman.
Red8 is brought to you by Christian Bedat, former of the luxury watch company Bedat & Company. I believe that his role at the company ended when Gucci acquired the brand earlier this decade. Bedat & Co. is now owned by a Malaysian outfit. Bedat wanted to do something different and he wanted to sell them differently. For most of you reading this, there is nothing exotic about having a watch that is sold online, but it is a ‘crazy thing’ when you suggest it to European watch companies. Online you can browse the collection, get more information, check out their virtual design center, and buy a watch by visiting the Red8 website here.
The timepiece is a fun idea in a cheeky sort of way. You have an easy to live with watch that has some unique qualities you won’t find anywhere else. The watch is meant to be a new type of fashion accessory, just like the Livestrong bracelets of a few years ago. And just like those silicon rubber bracelet the Red8 watch is available in a slew of colors. Not to mention that the Red8 does comes with an easily removable… silicon rubber bracelet. See this one here in red. The little elements on the Red8 watch are done in a quality manner. I am afraid that fashion forward types getting one of these may not be able to appreciate some of the more minor touches, but they are there. You can tell that effort went into the watch being able to satisfy even snobs like me. Staying on the topic of the strap, you’ll notice the well designed PVD metal buckle with double pins. The metal has nice sharp edges and feels quality made. You get a nice Red8 logo engraved in it as well.
The strap attaches to the case sort of like a NATO strap. It is a cute gimmick and makes it easy to swap out straps. The strap width is 20mm wide, and the watch does comes with standard pins. This means you can attach traditional straps to the watch case if you like. The Red8 watch is a diver’s watch in style and is 42mm wide (with the crown). The steel case is black PVD coated and water resistant to 200 meters. The PVD is done not in the standard matte finish, but instead in an attractive glossy look that is harder to find out there when it comes to PVD black. Other versions of the watch come in other PVD colors or just polished steel. Same goes for the cherry red colored aluminum bezel. It will be a different color based on the model you choose. There are currently 11 variations of the watch.
The bezel on this watch has four animals on it. Three real ones, and one mythical one. You’ll probably recognize that these are animals important in Asian cultures. You don’t hear Americans talking about oxen that much. These are also animals of the zodiac. The lettering on the bezel is done nicely. Instead of just being printed, they are engraved into the bezel and then crisply painted – nothing cheap looking here. In fact nothing about the watch looks or feels less than (dare I say) European standards.
Notice the caseback of the watch and the Asian side of the timepiece comes out even more. Again, the watch is made in Asia, and Red8 is proud of that fact. It is almost a message to other watch makers that they should not hide the fact that they have components made in Asia. By Asia I mean mostly China, but not just China of course. As such, the caseback read “Designed in the world by Red8. Produced in Asia.” I don’t really get that former part to well, but you get the message. The center of the caseback has something written in Chinese. I don’t know what it says, but if I had to guess, I would say “red eight.”
The Red8 name is also part of Chinese culture. Red being associated with wealth and prosperity, while 8 being a lucky number of sorts with special meaning associated with it. Red8 did something that I’ve never seen before. That being the use of the large red ABS plastic crown. ABS plastic is very hard and solid feeling. It also looks like tasty red candy. The number “8” is done in relief on the side. Sure I worry a bit about the crown scratching, but that is just part of the character of the watch. Realize that the entire crown is not actually plastic. There is a standard metal crown that has a red plastic cap over it. It is a fun style and certainly goes with the theme. No complaints here.
Inside the watch is an interesting use of a movement. Essentially the watch has one of Seiko’s Kinetic quartz movements inside – though it is not called that. The movement is instead called an “I-Matic” and is made by Epson (which is Seiko’s parent company). For those of you not familiar with this movement, it is a quartz, but does not require battery changes. Instead, it has a rotor just like automatic mechanical movements which is uses to charge the internal battery that powers the watch. The watch will run for 180 days on a full charge. The Red8 watch expresses some of these details clearly on the dial. Features like this keep the cost down, as Red8 intends for its watches to be of a high quality, but not unaffordable.
Lastly, I wanted to talk about the dial. The most important part of the watch. It is covered in a gently curved sapphire crystal that has been anti reflective (AR) coated on the inside. Each of the hour markers is large and has a rich amount of SuperLumiNova applied on top of a highly polished steel base. It make for a good look. I would have however liked the hour indicator at 12 o’clock to be different looking, but that is a personal preference. The hands are also easy to read and share the high level of polish and luminant coating. I would have liked the the luminant to extend a bit further down the hands though – a small issue. Overall the dial is very easy to read, and has individual minute markers. The center of the dial has a slightly depressed ring that is normally for the hour hand to follow. This is a curious part of the design that frankly took me a while to figure out. At first glance I though the numbers scale was upside down. Meaning that the top of the ring shows “30” and the bottom shows “0.” It seems as though it should be the other way around, and then I realized that this scale is meant to be followed by the counterweight arrow on the seconds hand, not the front of it. Using that end of the seconds hand to follow the center ring, it makes sense. Accordingly, the red lightning bolt with arrow as the counterweight of the seconds hand is a nice touch that I enjoy.
Together you have an enjoyable watch that is fun and functional. Retail price without shipping is $880 for a Red8 watch. This model is the Red8 CB-008. It isn’t the least expensive watch around, but there is really nothing else out there like it – and it is positioned as a luxury fashion watch that really sacrifices nothing given what it is. You can enjoy the character and thought that went into the watch, and the fact that it does not take itself too seriously. The hip dance music on the Red8 website seems to sum that up well. It is a great watch for people that want something different without any hassle and a watch that can better sum up their lifestyle than most of the stuffy watches that are out there.
Visit the Red8World.com website here.