Solid Watch

For this post I’m going to review my newest watch… the Skeleton Mechanical Solid Watch by Henry Juskevicius (who’ll be referred to as Henry, or Mr. Juskevicius moving forward).

The history with this watch is an interesting one. For one, it’s the second Kickstarter project I’ve ever backed. Second, it was the first time I allowed myself to invest more than $400 on a service like Kickstarter. 1 This watch cost me $650, but has now gone up to $850 since then – and is said to eventually (who knows when that’s going to be) sell for $3,000

Background

For the un-initiated, Kickstarter is a crowdsourcing/funding site. Projects are pitched, and an amount for funding is requested. Interested parties then have the option of becoming “backers” of a project by pledging an amount. If the total amount pledged by backers reaches the funding goal, only then are they charged. If the funding fails, not a single penny is charged/spent. The entrepreneur then gets the money they need to create what they set out to do – and the backers get the products as a “reward.” 2 It’s worth noting that you can pledge simply to support a project without necessarily requiring for a reward, but this is rarely done as the service by nature caters to the “quid pro quo” mentality.

The Project

So this project was the Solid Watch. The watch design was very appealing to me. As stated in the Kickstarter page:

The concept preserves all the actions involved in forming the watch.  The saw cut marks from the steel yard, the waterjet pattern and lathe cuts are unpolished and clearly visible.  The fasteners are even exposed.

Now it’s worth mentioning that I’m not really what you would call a watch person, while I definitely can appreciate any expensive watch – and certainly wouldn’t mind owning one, I never felt the need to have them. I find myself more attracted to the more unique ones – watches that suggest the wearer having taste, instead of money.

That said, there are only two watches so far – that I’ve ever went out of my way to get, my Issey Miyake TO automatic, and this Solid Watch. If you’ve seen the Issey, you probably can tell why I fell in love with the Solid. They both exude that aura of raw minimalism with the absence of any branding or glyphs. They’re like brothers but with different personalities – the Solid being the rugged no-nonsense wanderer, and its metrosexual sibling the Issey.

Yet both have a common dignity/elegance to them despite being drastically different in their styles. That’s the kind of “x-factor” which makes me buy a watch, not necessarily the brand.

Skeleton Mechanical

There were actually different “models” to choose from. The most popular choices being the Quartz, the Mechanical, the Open Mechanical, the Skeleton Mechanical, and the Automatic.

Basically, the Quartz and Mechanical have the same look – only difference is the movements they use (which doesn’t really matter since there’s a proper “face” covering the actual movements), and that one needs batteries. The Open Mechanical has the movement exposed, but not skeletonized.

Just like the Open Mechanical, the Skeleton Mechanical and the Automatic both have the their movements exposed. While I’m a fan of automatics in general, the automatic’s ETA A07.111 movement has a date-disc/plate, so basically the “face” would be that plate – and the intricacies of the movement would only be seen from behind.

I felt that the Skeleton Mechanical had the most visually appealing implementation because it was skeletonized, with nothing obscuring the components of the movement on either side.

Crown & Case

Quite literally, “raw” is the best word you can use for this watch. The concept above explains it all – but for my tastes, that didn’t mean that I could put some more “polish” to it – as oxymoronic as that sounds.

The picture you saw of the watch at the top of this page is a bit different from the original design of the watch. One such difference is the size of its crown. It’s still big, but would you believe that that’s already 70% of the original size? Here’s a reference photo of the original design for proof:

Now that I have the watch, I understand why it had to be that big – the smooth finish of the crown, offers little purchase for those trying to get a decent grip on it. Of course the trade-off for allowing the crown to be bigger and easier to turn is that it’ll probably hit the back of your hand more – and it’ll definitely hurt. 3 Of course, given the symmetry and lack of glyphs, you could just flip the watch over and turn it into a destro

Another difference if you would notice is that I chose to have Mr. Juskevicus smoothen out the face instead of retaining the raw, rough, water-jet marked metal. The back, however remained raw as raw can be 🙂

Same goes for the sides:

Strap

From the image above, you can also see the consistency of the concept on the strap – a leather strap with a build/finish that looks very raw. The keepers are just heavy-duty rubber loops. It’s funny because when you see it with this watch, you can’t imagine it any other way – but if you just think about seeing this in any “commercial” watch – you know it would be reason enough to return the piece 🙂

The strap’s really thick though. While it certainly can carry itself on the looks department – on a practical standpoint, wearing it is a bit tedious. The straps are so thick that putting them through the keepers can be difficult.

Luckily it’s a 24mm strap, and it’s very easy to detach the strap from the watch with a simple precision allen wrench (no need for special watch tools) – so you should be able to find and install a replacement for it should you want to.

But I’ll be honest; I’m really digging the strap! It just has that steampunk-esque look to it. I’m hoping strap softens over time to make it easier to fit through the keepers… that, or the keepers loosen over time. Whichever works.

Face

Don’t be fooled by the seemingly haphazard build of this piece, it’s solid as its name – and uses good components.

The movement, for example, is a Skeletonized ETA 6497-1. Being the non-watch person that I am, I asked a friend if it’s a decent movement. He mentioned that a lot of brands use it for their mechanical watches – and among the known brands was Panerai. Now I really don’t know the nuances of different movements – so I just thought “Hey, if it’s good enough for the likes of Panerai, it’s good enough for me.”

The crystal is sapphire – both front and back. I used the quick Sapphire water test to confirm this. 4 I also made sure by actually rubbing metal on it hahaha, balls of steel!

And like I said before, even the parts that have that “unfinished” look on them feel very solid. I guess you don’t call it a Solid Watch for nothing 🙂

Flaws

While I’ll obviously ignore the “flaws by design”, there are still a few niggles that I felt could’ve been addressed without compromising the concept of the Solid Watch.

Apart from the mentioned strap issue, another problem I had (come to think of it I’ve always had this problem with any watch) is that the strap holes are really far apart and the hole for the tightest setting still loose by a little bit. Nothing that a bit of McGuyvering couldn’t solve. Still, I wish I’d just ordered it without the holes so I could’ve retained the symmetry when I make them myself. That, and I wish there was a “black leather” option 🙂

Another “flaw” is that there’s also no practical access to the movement. Both sides have the glass glued to the casing. This probably is less of an issue since the watch has no batteries, so the only time you’ll really ever need access to the movement is if you damage the movement somehow. But the Kickstarter project actually had a quartz option… and I imagine that to be a major issue.

In any case, it would’ve been nice to have a practical way to service it.

Oh and did I mention that it was a 48mm watch? It’s friggin’ huge! Of course this isn’t technically a bad thing – since there is a market for oversized watches. But factoring in the oversized crown as well, then you can see it could be a problem.

But really, I’m just nitpicking at this point. The watch is exactly what it was promised to be, no less, and definitely more (sapphire glass, great movement). No dealbreakers as far as my particular model goes. It’s a very great and fun watch to have.


This is where the review ends. If you’re just interested about the watch itself, you may stop reading now. If you’re interested in the story behind my particular watch, then read on.

Issues

We mentioned that it was a Kickstarter project – a relatively expensive one at that. By the nature of the service you can already see how pledging a large sum of money can be a risk as it’s easy enough to create an interesting pitch to get funded, but not necessarily delivering on their promise. Even the most sincere/well-meaning entrepreneurs can end up failing when they realize the vision they tried to sell wasn’t as feasible as they first imagined – an issue which has been increasing over time – and has prompted changes to Kickstarter guidelines.

Now that you have a perspective on the level of “trust” it takes to commit to a pledge, you also could imagine the drama that could ensue should entrepreneurs fail to meet backers expectations – moreso as the amount pledged increases.

Without going into details, let’s just say that this project was funded on August 2011 – meaning as of this posting, more than an entire year has already passed. I’ll leave it to the reader’s imagination how backers (impatient or otherwise), with their varying “temperaments”, might handle this delay.

Fortunately for me, I live in a different country, so this watch was never a priority. All my Kickstarter rewards, I would usually have shipped to a friend in the US, and would remain with them until they (or someone they could pass it on to) would come home. So by nature, my mindset with any and every Kickstarter reward was “if it’s there, then it’s there, if not, then no biggie since I wouldn’t be able to get it immediately anyways.”

Also, I was of the mind of the futility of being antagonistic in a situation where you have absolutely no control or leverage. It’s analogous to complaining to a server; if you piss them off, then they could spit on your food without you knowing. If the person already had your money, how exactly would it help your case if you started railing against them?

I’ll admit, I was nervous about the fate of my pledge as well. My money was gone either way, but the way I choose to deal with it made all the difference: I could’ve chosen to be a brat about it – and essentially flush that money down the toilet myself.

Or I could remain calm, and trust the guy – trust that my money had actually gone to purchasing the watch.

Good Things Come to Those who Wait

I was pleasantly surprised to see the survey 5 Usually when a reward is about to be fulfilled a survey is sent to backers so they can enter their shipping addresses and, if applicable, other reward-related stuff. in my inbox first week of October. I thought “So it actually pushed through!” – and admit it, isn’t that a much better attitude to have instead of being pissed all the time, and then feeling like an awkward idiot when the thing finally ships? But I digress.

Again, I was in no particular rush, but it just so happens that a friend of mine was going to visit the next week. So I fired an email to Mr. Juskevicius just asking about some adjustments/customizations on the watch – and the possibility of prioritizing my shipment.

If it wasn’t possible, no worries – that would just mean the watch would not make to me this month, 6 what’s another few months if you’ve already been waiting for more than a year and I’d just have to wait till someone visits again (which has always been the arrangement anyways). I wasn’t even expecting Henry to answer in time given my friend was already leaving on the 12th.

But Henry did respond, he did accommodate my “adjustments” to the watch, he took the time to take pictures showing me what to expect. He even took a picture of the finished watch (shown below) right before he had it shipped via FedEx next-day delivery to make sure it reached my friend no later than the 10th.

This entire correspondence was done over a single weekend.

While I do feel sorry for those who complain that they should’ve gotten their watches by now (as I’m sure they had valid points), I simply cannot agree that Henry is a bad person, or that he intentionally set out to piss people off. I certainly wasn’t anyone special to merit any special attention… but I was lucky enough to get it anyways. The only glaring difference I see from those were constantly complaining is precisely that, I simply remained positive about the whole thing. I treated Henry respectfully, I didn’t pressure him into anything he didn’t feel like doing – nor did I intend to judge him in any way should he not be able to fulfil my special requests.

Apparently, asking nicely works better than demanding violently – who would’ve figured, right?

Notes   [ + ]

1. This watch cost me $650, but has now gone up to $850 since then – and is said to eventually (who knows when that’s going to be) sell for $3,000
2. It’s worth noting that you can pledge simply to support a project without necessarily requiring for a reward, but this is rarely done as the service by nature caters to the “quid pro quo” mentality.
3. Of course, given the symmetry and lack of glyphs, you could just flip the watch over and turn it into a destro
4. I also made sure by actually rubbing metal on it hahaha, balls of steel!
5. Usually when a reward is about to be fulfilled a survey is sent to backers so they can enter their shipping addresses and, if applicable, other reward-related stuff.
6. what’s another few months if you’ve already been waiting for more than a year

4 Replies to “Solid Watch”

  1. Nargalzius, thanks for the great write-up.

    I’ll start by saying that I’m not a backer, hence I haven’t posted on the Kickstarter wall. I was going to back the project but smelled a rat early on and decided not to…

    So, I have to strongly disagree about your opinion of Henry. While you may have been exceptionally patient, and your exchanges with Henry have been decent and non-combative, that’s not the case for many others. I don’t think it’s fair to judge the man on only your experience. It’s clear to see that you have been exceptionally lucky, and that other backers are not being treated with the same respect. I think that most backers are not specifically worried about the time delay alone, the problems are this:

    1) A severe lack of reasonable communication. Not only does Henry not communicate very infrequently, but the content of his posts are void of information. Henry ignores most questions, and post things like “I’ll ship watches when I’m happy with them” in response to questions of when products will be shipping. Note that to date, not one person has received a quartz watch, not has Henry even given some impression of what is happening and how long people might have to wait.

    2) Henry has lied to Dion Wichmann about ordering his movement. See also Mohd Rais Abdul Rasid’s questions and comments.

    3) Henry has lied about shipping dates to many folks. “It will be next week…” Granted yours wasn’t a lie, but that’s just one example.

    4) Henry has decided to keep the money, but not ship watches to a number of people. See the comments on comments page 11. It’s mind boggling.

    Trust is built, not given blindly. Henry has done many things to prevent trust being built up, and done very little to compensate for the things he has got wrong. He could have done this at any time in the past year, but he has not. I presume that he does not know how to.

    You talked about being on the bad / good side of Henry. I appreciate that being mean might make someone not like you very much, but if you ever take the time to ready through the 717 (current) comments, you’ll see that most people have ended up there after Henry has repeatedly ignored them. Do you think that is a reasonable thing to do when you have taken money from people? Henry has said things like ‘end of the queue’ and ‘bridges burned’ to people who haven’t been nasty – just simply repeated their questions that have fallen on deaf ears.

    I think that it’s perfectly logical that someone who had spent a hundred, to many hundreds of dollars with someone who treats them with disdain, doesn’t answer any questions, gives no updates of any substance, might reasonably think that the likelihood of them receiving the product that they backed/ordered is exceptionally low. I’m sure customers realise that they may have to be patient about receiving the goods, but it’s not reasonable to be ignored, or not be given reasonable updates in the interim. A quick post every 1 to 2 weeks with some real content would satisfy all but the most impatient, and it would only take Henry 5 minutes to do.

    Some of the comments have turned nasty in direct response to Henry not answering questions, lying, being flippant and manipulating people into saying good things that are not true. Joel B Green said that he’s “just wanting to shut him down so he doesn’t rip anyone else off….”, which I think is the sentiment of others. If you think you have no chance of getting the goods or money back, then preventing others from having the same fate is a reasonable cause, no? Likewise, I don’t think anyone is trying to destroy Henry’s reputation – he’s done that all by himself – they’re just trying to make it visible on the internet so that he can’t do it again.

    I understand your pragmatic approach – “I kept quiet and got my watch, so if you do the same you might get yours too”. However, I don’t agree that backers/customers should have to be like that – questions and updates are a perfectly reasonable request, and they should be fulfilled.

    Also, once Henry has decided the ‘bridge has been burned’, those who are in this position feel that they have nothing more to lose, hence they pick out Henry’s flaws with this project. They say what most others are thinking, but dare not because of Henry’s temperament.

    Anyway, it seems like you’ve had a (relatively) good experience, but others clearly have not, and I don’t think it’s fair to say that your experience is representative and that therefore others should do the same.

    Nice looking watch though. It’s a shame that it’s a bit tedious to wear.

    James. 🙂

  2. You’re right, James. I cannot find anything wrong with any of the arguments you just posited. All I can hope is that the majority of the backers do get their watches eventually – and that when they do it would be in pleasant terms.

  3. Carlos I was just reading your comments on the kickstarter page. While I can appreciate the fact that you were looking for a good movement and sapphire crystals, I don’t think you got your moneys worth here.

    It’s almost like buying a new car that you paid extra to have the upgraded V8 engine, but when you get it you find out the hood has been welded shut. The dealer insists its no big deal but the first time you pull in for an oil change, the mechanic wont touch the car with a ten foot pole. I can guarantee you that a watch movement that was modified by a guy not qualified to work on them will end up having problems. Did Henry mention to you if he would offer to make repairs if needed? Did he mention if he would service the watch when it needs to cleaned and re-oiled? Did he mention if he bothered to regulate the movements after taking them apart and playing with them? So many questions, so few(as in none) answers.

    I don’t believe Henry is in any way and honest man and I’ll even give my theory on how this whole project went down. First off look at the goal amount on the kickstarter page, its was only set to $100. Henry was basically using this as a pre-order scheme with a guaranteed way to receive funding. Once the project took off he quickly realized he was in over his head and decided to purchase the CNC machines instead. He also realized that once the money was in his hands that it was his to spend as he pleases, since kickstarter has no real legal guidelines in place to regulate projects.

    Hes playing everyone like fools and he knows it. But hey, I’m glad you at least got something to show for your money. I have a feeling almost half of the backers wont be able to say the same.

  4. Joseph, why you gotta ruin my fun, son? Just kidding 😉

    Yes, the crystal not being easily removed is a concern, but that would only mean that you can’t fix it yourself unless you had the proper tools and experience to do so. I’m sure a watchmaker/repair shop worth their/its salt should be able to open up this watch and service it if need be (especially in my country, you’d be amazed what our watchmakers are capable of doing).

    All the same one of these days I’m going to try to take it to one just to see exactly what my options are. Who knows, maybe the can even modify it further to make it easily accessible in the future (wishful thinking hehehehe)

    Yes, I’m glad I got something to show for the money, and actually wearing the watch it’s really a fun watch to have/wear. Like I mentioned I have a commercial watch with all the things you consider to make it worth it – but guess what; I actually am enjoying this more because of the conversations it starts – and that it looks really good.

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