Cars, it seems, are an everlasting source of inspiration for watches. Many of the big brands feel the need to join forces with racing teams, car manufacturers or “people of the industry” to create dedicated watches highlighting the parallels between the two industries. And, in all fairness, some of these become highly desirable! Smaller brands tend to follow this line too, with a wide range of automotive-inspired designs debuting every year. Entire brands are created with the automotive soul in mind. With Don Kylne & Co, this is also the case. Not the entire brand, but at least with its newest Kickstarter-project: The Time Master.
Don Kylne & Co. is a brand we first introduced to you last year via its elegant, and highly affordable, Chaplin collection. Refreshingly, there wasn’t the usual over-zealous marketing hyperbole we usually see associated with these types of brands. They don’t try to present themselves in any other way than just a small, enthusiastic group of watch-guys slaving away at building their own brand. No highly complicated mechanical pieces here, but simple and honest watches at an entry-level price point.
Our Managing Editor explained this in our previous article covering the Chaplin collection, but most start-up or entry-level brands quickly grow to a point where they aren’t “entry-level” anymore. Look at what happened with Seven-Friday or Dietrich. Still based on Miyota movements, they shot to well over 1,000 bucks rather quickly or even started above that critical line! The Don Kylne & Co. Chaplin was offered at a price of USD 399 and this Time Master will cost you about the same during the Kickstarter-campaign. Prices will rise throughout the campaign, as pledges are made and stretch-goals are reached but it will still be a competitive price to pay! For now, let’s see what’s in store for the new collection dubbed the Time Master.
Overall Appearance and features
The Don Kylne Time Master oozes “retro cool” as it is heavily inspired by fifties motoring. The guilloche center plaque and the fuel gauge style display of the second-time zone is very much reminiscent of cars from that era. Everything, from the dial to the strap, is linked to this free-form era of automotive design. The retro design is matched with vintage dimensions, at least in terms of looks. It seems smaller than it is, but that is due to the way it is designed and built. The short lugs help in that area too.
Feature-wise, the Don Kylne & Co. combines timing indication with a date and a GMT functionality. The interpretation of the second-time zone is different from usual. In most GMT watches we see an extra hand mounted on the central axis, with a 24-hour ring on the edge of the dial or on the bezel. On the Time Master however, it is shown on a rotating disc underneath the dial. It keeps the dial a bit clearer and doesn’t distract from the overall design.
Dial and hands
Jumping from the overall features to the dial and hands specifically, the dial of each of the Don Kylne & Co. Time Master versions is made up of two layers. The base dial is done in a very rich blue hue (at least for our example here, as grey and cream editions exist too). It really pops and plays with the light, partly due to the polished and applied markers which adds a bit of sparkle. The guilloche center part of the dial is done in a silvery white color, and applied onto the blue dial. If you look at it from straight on, you can really see the resemblance to iconic cars from the fifties. The Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing, or the Aston Martin DB5 are clear indications of how this watch is intended to mimic instrument clusters and speedometers.
The only downside of the dial, besides the size of the window for the second-time zone (rather small), is the design of the minute track, the numerals and the screwed central insert. This is very much in the style of F.P. Journe (see here to understand) which might put you off. There’s nothing wrong in being inspired by one of the greatest name in the industry, but here it is maybe too obvious – even if these watches are miles apart when it comes to the choice of material, finishing, complexity, and of course price.
About the second-time zone, the counter-clockwise rotating disc, in bright yellow, is a bit tricky to read. The narrow cut-out allows for you to see the second-time zone indication, and the little polished triangle points to the exact hour. It is hard to read at a quick glance however. On the other hand, it adds a significant feature to an otherwise restrained dial, in terms of complexity. And, despite its drawbacks, the design of the window and second-time zone indication fits the overall look of the watch.
The yellow second hand matches the yellow disc for the GMT function thus tying together the overall look. The hour and minute hands have a leaf like shape and have been finished with a small amount of luminous material for night time visibility. To finish off the dial, the date window at 6 o’clock is positioned just outside of the center plaque. All in all, the dial is well balanced, with the two mounting screws at 3 and 9, the date at the bottom and the window with triangle and screw at the top.
Case and Strap
The relatively modest sized case (40,5mm diameter) is shaped like a pebble. It has a brushed central part and a stepped, polished bezel on top. The rather wide bezel, when looking at it from straight on, makes the watch look smaller than it really is. The short lugs make it very wearable, especially for the smaller wrist. It is fitted with a double domed, sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating. The curvature of the sapphire somewhat follows the shape of the case. The crown, positioned at 3 o’clock is small in height but grips easily. However, again, we can’t deny the F.P. Journe influence here. Is that a bad thing? Well, that is up to you, but we’ve certainly seen more original designs for a crown.
The strap of the Don Kylne & Co. Time Master complements the overall look. The ribs on the leather starting at the case and evening out midway down the strap are meant to resemble the upholstery of cars from the fifties and sixties. The strap comes fitted with a folding buckle, which tucks the strap end underneath the other end and eliminates the need for keepers in the process. This is something we see on far higher priced watches like TAG Heuer but not that often on watches in this price bracket. It is a bit on the thick side though, which means you occasionally bang it onto your desk.
Don Kylne & Co. changed from a Miyota movement to an automatic Hangzhou 6460 movement. A first for Monochrome, as we’ve never covered a watch with this type of movement before. Hangzhou is not a new movement maker, as they have been around since the seventies, and this one is an ETA 2836 clone. During my time with the watch it kept relatively good time. It is silent, especially in comparison with the noisy rotor of the Miyota movement found in the Chaplin.
As mentioned in previous sections of this review, it indicates hours, minutes and seconds from a central axis. Furthermore, there is a date window at 6 o’clock and the obvious GMT window at 12. The movement runs at 28,800vph and has a power reserve of approximately 40 hours. It is visible through the sapphire caseback, with a clear view of the plates, rotor and running gears.
The Don Kylne & Co. Time Master comes in three different versions, all with color combinations reminiscent of cars from the fifties and named as such. There is the “Zagato Blue” you see here, with blue and white/silver dial and brown strap, the “Gullwing Cream” has a cream and white/silver dial with a grey strap and the “Vantage Grey” has a dark grey with white/silver dial and a grey strap.
Now, I’ve mentioned the F.P. Journe connection in this article a couple of times. Considering the fact that the watches in question are lightyears apart, and it is not unusual to take inspiration from other brands or maybe even downright copy elements, for me it is not the biggest problem (but then again, that’s personal). The way I see it, the Kylne is entry-level watchmaking, not meant to please wealthy, educated collectors. People who buy these watches buy it for the look first, as they feel a connection to it perhaps, and the story of the brand second. We leave the final opinion about the Journe resemblance up to you… For the rest, this watch is an interesting offer, with a very good price / quality ratio (USD 399) and a design that is pleasant. For more information visit Don Kylne & Co’s website or their Kickstarter campaign.
Technical specifications – Don Kylne & Co Time Master
- Case: 40.5mm diameter – steel case – stepped, polished bezel – 50m water resistant
- Movement: Hangzhou 6460 (ETA 2836 clone) – central hours, minutes and seconds – date – GMT function
- Strap: Brown or grey ribbed leather strap – folding buckle with tucked strap-end.
- Price: USD 399 during the Kickstarter campaign