About a year ago, we brought you the news that the historic name of Elka Watch Co. was brought back from the dead. Successfully launching through Kickstarter, industry veteran Hakim El Kadiri presented the Elka X-Series and D-series collection, a duo of vintage-inspired watches with mechanical movements at a fair price. Now, 12 months on, we can present you the next chapter in the Elka story, which coincidentally brings us back to Amsterdam, the city of Eliazer Kiek, who founded the historic Elka name in the Dutch capital in 1877. This time around, though, there’s a connection with Amsterdam-based luxury watch retailers Ace Jewelers. Connecting over both watches and culture, Elka and Ace Jewelers are united in the special Ace Jewelers x Elka Diversity Series, which brings together four different cultures.
What unites the present-day Elka Watch Company with Ace Jewelers is the name of Eliazer Kiek. This Dutchman was a watchmaker to Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, and at one point invented the tactile watch for the blind. He founded the precursor to the Elka brand in 1877, which was rebranded to Elka in 1913 by Kiek’s son, Louis Eduard Kiek. He named it after his own son, Ernst Louis Kiek, and added the A for Amsterdam. The Kiek and Elka names are synonymous with watchmaking and the Dutch capital as the Kiek family operated several luxury watch boutiques as well as the watchmaking company. Succumbing to the Quartz crisis as so many other brands did, the Elka name eventually disappeared.
However, the Kiek name lived on as a watch boutique until the year 2000, when the Ben Joseph family bought it to expand the Ace Jewelers business. That’s the moment when a deep fascination for all things related to Kiek and Elka started for the Ben Joseph family, and in particular for Alon Ben Joseph (below, right), initiator of this new special series of watches. What’s important to know, however, is that there’s no direct connection with the defunct Elka brand, but as luck would have it, Elka happens to be the nickname of Hakim El Kadiri (below, left). The first two models under the new Elka name were a homage to the Elka brand of the olden days.
After discussing options for a possible collaboration at one point in time, the idea was born to make a quartet of watches all bearing numerals from a different cultural background. This resulted in the watches we present you today, all set in a 40.8mm wide and 10.8mm high stainless steel case. This is based on the case of the X-Series launched last year which comes with a box-shaped sapphire crystal and a solid caseback. The crown is signed and has a knurled outer edge. So far there’s not much we didn’t really expect, but the defining element for the Ace Jewelers x Elka Diversity Series lies in its dial or rather dials.
You see, it’s the dials that simultaneously divide and unite the Diversity Series, and with it, the name becomes a perfect fit. Each of the four versions has a deep blue sunray brushed dial. What sets each one apart though, is the type of font used for the numerals. You have a choice of Western Arabic, Eastern Arabic, Chinese or Hebrew signed dials, bringing the four cultural worlds together in a single watch collection. The dials all have a white printed minute track on the outer edge and are signed with the Elka Watch Company logo. Time is indicated with Dauphine-shaped hour and minute hands with a luminous insert and a white lacquered central seconds hand.
Hidden from view by the solid caseback, adorned with the Elka logo, is an automatic movement by La Joux-Perret. This Calibre G100 was also found in the X-Series and D-Series watches that relaunched Elka as a brand last year. It runs at a frequency of 28,800vph and has a running time of 68 hours when fully wound. With such specs, the La Joux-Perret G100 is a very good alternative to similar movements by ETA and Sellita, which by now can be quite challenging to acquire.
The Ace Jewelers x Elka Diversity Series of watches are all limited to 25 pieces, and worn on a beige nubuck leather strap with quick-release push pins and a stainless steel pin buckle. It’s exclusively available at AceJewelers.com or the Ace & Dik Boutique in Amsterdam, Netherlands. All models retail for a price of EUR 1.966 incl. VAT (or EUR 1.620 excl. VAT).