Your Chance to Be a Watch Designer.
If you fancy yourself a watch designer but lack the technical or artistic ability to do so, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of companies out there that will let you “design” your own watch from the comfort of your web browser. Eoniq is one such company, and in the “design your own watch” niche, they’re also the brand that appeals to me the most.
During my research for this review I looked at five competitors. Unfortunately, I don’t have the clout to ask them all to ship me a watch (some go well into the four figures), so I had to window shop instead. This is how I came to discover that Eoniq has the best customizer of the bunch. It’s also when I discovered that Eoniq is among the more affordable brands, with the Alster priced around $400. The one I customized came to $398.
For $400 you get a Miyota 8245 automatic, sapphire glass, the ability to customize the watch to your tastes (including a partial skeleton), add your own text/images, and nitpick just about aspect of it. It sounds like fun, and guess what… it definitely is!
Eoniq Alster Technical Specifications
- MODEL NUMBER: Alster 008
- MSRP: $398
- CASE DIAMETER: 40mm
- ALTERNATE MODELS: Hundreds of possible variations
- MOVEMENT: Automatic, Miyota 8245
- COMPLICATIONS: Small seconds
- POWER RESERVE: Approximately 42 hours
- WATER RESISTANCE: 50m / 165ft
- CRYSTAL MATERIAL: Sapphire
Customizable Watches: A Great Idea, But Only if It Works Well
As a certified watch nerd, I welcome customizable watches with open arms*, with the caveat that the quality of the watch can’t suffer at the expense of said customizability. My worry is that creating a bunch of one-off watches could easily lead to a product rife with QA problems. I see this sometimes in production samples- dust under the crystal, scratched indices or hands, blemishes on the dial, etc.
It doesn’t matter how cool or powerful you make the actual customization experience if the watch itself suffers because of it. As Eoniq allows you to add text and images to the dial, as well as upgrade to an customizable rotor, this concern is amplified somewhat. Most DYOW (design your own watch) companies don’t offer that level of customization (or if they do, it’s much more limited in ability). Being the anxious sort of fella that I am, this only heightened my concerns with respect to the quality of the watch.
After building and ordering my Eoniq, I only had one question: how well is this thing going to be made? As it turns out, my concerns were a non-issue for the most part.
A Massively Customizable Experience, Perfect for the Creatives Out There
There are two areas that a customizable watch could be a let down: its build and quality control, and during the customization experience itself.
My concern with potential quality issues stems from the fact that manufacturing efficiencies are typically realized at scale. A highly customizable watch removes the benefit of scale for certain things, and that could introduce problems. I’ve seen small defects in numerous pre-production samples- things like dust under the crystal, imperfections in the dial or finishings, scratches on the hands or indices, etc.
Add the fact that you can customize where on the dial the hour markers are printed, and choose the size and position of uploaded images or text, and you have a recipe for a potential QA disaster.
Thankfully, that is not the case with the Alster I received. The watch is not perfectly made, but the details I was concerned about turned out to be a non-issue. I’ll get into more depth on that below.
The customization experience can also be a challenge. Here, Eoniq has done a great job providing guidance and direction without restricting you into a template. You choose a base style (such as the Alster that I picked) and then to design around that.
Each of their watch models have numerous examples of how that model can be customized. Look at each model for the shape and size of the case, and overall theme of the watch, and then pick one of the many example designs to get moving.
When you load the watch designer, you are presented with 9 pre-designed options (and the ability to show even more). You can click one of those as a base, or click the pencil icon to begin customizing the design shown on the right side of the screen.
I spent a fair bit of time designing my watch. As it turns out, despite having reviewed more than 150 watches and despite a personal collection that is 50+ watches strong at any given moment, I have absolutely no idea what I want my watch to look like. I went through numerous iterations and actually went back and forth with Brian, my contact at Eoniq, quite a lot. I also made use of the Facebook Messenger chat button and got some help that way. I found they were very willing to help bring my vision to life… or at least keep me on the right track.
I had a lot of fun throughout this process, ultimately settling on a racey dial with a red small-seconds hand and red leather strap. Of course, I couldn’t miss this opportunity to brand the WYCA logo front and center at 12 o’clock.
Powered by the Miyota 8245 Automatic Movement
The 8245 automatic is a basic but robust movement used in dozens, if not hundreds, of different watch models. It’s a workhorse movement with entry-level specifications. The 8245 is accurate to -20/+40 seconds per day, has a power reserve estimated at 42 hours, and beats at 21,600bph. It does not hack.
Eoniq has finished the 8245 quite nicely, mounting it cleanly in the case and allowing the simple Côtes de Genève / Damaskeening decor to accent and beautify the movement. For this reason, I chose the hollow rotor (included in base price of the Alster) vs. upgrading to the solid customizable rotor. I wanted to see the movement!
Using toolwatch.io I found this particular 8245 to be running -17 seconds, which is acceptable and within spec. This measurement is the average of the past four weeks of wear (totaling roughly 100 hours of wrist time).
So How is the Watch I “Designed Myself”?
By and large, the watch is as good as I hoped it would be. The details that could have been off – notably, the printing on the dial for the markers and specifically the WYCA logo – are very much as good as you’d expect from a $400 watch.
As you can see from this ultra close-up shot of the dial, the printing on the logo, which includes fine text and hour markers on the C, looks quite good. If there’s a flaw there, I don’t see it. The same is also true of the rest of the markers, which are free of fault as far as I can tell.
The two-tone brushed/steel case is also finished well, but when viewed head on, a single flaw in the top-right lug is revealed (a flaw I just noticed as I inspected the watch).
Look closely at the base of the top-right lug. Do you see it? The very bottom is just slightly overmachined, making the lug appear to “bow” a bit in comparison to the other lugs. This defect is covered as part of Eoniq’s 24-month warranty. If yours arrives with something similar, notify Eoniq and they will replace or repair the watch.
The red leather strap, which I picked to complement the red seconds hand, is my least favorite part of the watch. In hindsight, the watch would have looked better with a black strap that complemented the outer dial vs. the seconds hand. The strap itself is fine, and since it’s quick-release, I can and will change it once it starts to show wear.
Note: this is a Cameron problem and not an Eoniq problem.
So It Turns Out That the Customizable Eoniq Isn’t Perfect, But I’d Still Buy One.
I really enjoyed the design experience and being able to hand-pick and really nitpick the watch. My wife and I must have iterated a dozen times before I found the variation I wanted to pull the trigger on, and even then, I have ideas on what I’d do differently for the next one.
I see two areas where Eoniq could improve:
- Add other movement options outside of the Miyota automatic. Eoniq is planning on releasing a higher-spec automatic, but it’s not yet ready.
- Nail down QA. The over-machining of the lug is an unfortunate flaw in an otherwise well-made custom timepiece.
For $400, being able to create something unique and reflective of your specific tastes feels like good value to me. Despite the lug letdown, which I believe is a one-off vs. typical of the brand, I really think Eoniq is on to something here. I can’t wait to see how they evolve their product over time.
- Eoniq Alster Technical Specifications
- Customizable Watches: A Great Idea, But Only if It Works Well
- A Massively Customizable Experience, Perfect for the Creatives Out There
- Powered by the Miyota 8245 Automatic Movement
- So How is the Watch I “Designed Myself”?
- So It Turns Out That the Customizable Eoniq Isn’t Perfect, But I’d Still Buy One.
- High-Resolution Photos