Who said a watch needs hands, and who said you always have to know the exact time? If you’re nodding your head in agreement here, then the Optik Instruments Horizon watch will make your eyes sparkle with its daring simplicity. The watch does away with hands entirely, and gives clear indication of 15 minute intervals during each hour, but nothing more. There’s no ticking second hand, and no bold digital display giving you hours, minutes, and seconds.
What you get is a new way of reading the time, which is more in tune with how we speak about the time. Optik Instruments argues that we rarely say the precise time down to the minute when relaying it to someone else, or internally in our head. Instead we say things like “about three thirty, or “quarter past five,” even if it’s closer to ten past or twenty past. The Horizon watch has a single red line on its bezel which points to the time presented on the rotating watch face. It’s broken down into obvious intervals, so you can still estimate the almost exact time, just like we do every day.
The name comes from the line on the rotating face, which separates day and night, and also gives it a distinctive design reminiscent of the artificial horizon dials used in aircraft. It completes a single rotation over a 24-hour period, and is adjusted using the crown on the side of the body. It’s otherwise completely free of complication.
We had a chance to try on an early version of the watch, which launched on Kickstarter earlier this year. Watches should be, “glanceable,” meaning a quick look provides the information we need, so we were trepidatious in our approach to the Horizon. It will take a while to adjust to the way the it presents the time, and while the concept is easy to understand, it’s a different matter when looking at your watch for a split second and seeing something unfamiliar. Optik Instruments told Digital Trends it’s common to take a morning to get used to it.
The simplicity of telling the time extends into the watch’s design. The body and crown are made from stainless steel with a choice of coatings we loved the Diamond-like Coating (DLC) coating on the Navigator model and the face is covered by sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating. Despite the Horizon being the first to use a single rotating disc to tell the time, it’s still made in Switzerland with a Ronda 515.24 movement inside. This is an electric movement with a 45-month power reserve. No nightly charging needed here.
Depending on the watches you’re used to wearing, the Horizon is quite small on the wrist. Its 40mm body will suit large and small wrists, and at 10.5mm thick, it won’t interfere with shirt cuffs. It’s very light, adding to its general wearability for everyone. Also, the simple time-telling system means the Horizon can be worn on either wrist, and it’s designed to operate normally with the crown on either side of the face. In addition to the sapphire crystal for scratch resistance, the Horizon is water resistant to 100 meters, so you can happily go swimming with it still on. That said, the Horizon doesn’t have a sporty design.
It’s interesting to see how watch makers are playing with time. Recently we’ve seen and been impressed by the SNGLRTY (that’s Singularity, for those who don’t work in marketing) watch with its single hand for telling the time, along with hugely complex, tech-heavy watches like the Sequent Supercharger. These, along with the Optik Instruments Horizon, all shift away from the established “rules” of watch making to give us something new and exciting. As smartwatches continue to increase in popularity and bring attention to non-smart watches, it’s these designs that potentially appeal to many new mechanical watch wearers. We like the Horizon because it’s different, a little geeky, yet still a proper Swiss watch.
However, we’re not convinced of its appeal outside of watch fans. It may be a little too niche for those who’re about to take their first steps into traditional watch ownership. Watch fans will appreciate the bravery in throwing out everything we expect to see on a watch face, and there’s no denying this has been made by people who appreciate watches, and the build quality proves it.
There are four different models being made, with the Navigator being our personal favorite, due to its DLC body, midnight blue/grey face, and yellow markings. There is also the choice of polished, brushed, or sand-blasted stainless steel. Since its successful Kickstarter campaign in February, Optik Instruments has been busily getting the Horizon ready for backers and general sale. It can still be pre-ordered on the firm’s website for 350 British pounds, or around $460, with the watch shipping in September.