KLO & CO Alpesailer (Hands-On)
An affordable automatic sports watch from a young Filipino brand.
There’s certainly no shortage of microbrands these days with small startups popping up around the globe. Quality and price vary widely, but every so often an intriguing, affordable piece debuts that’s worthy of a second look. KLO & CO is a young brand based in the Philippines, launching its second collection, a cool pair of automatic sports watches with dual crowns and internal rotating bezels. The concept itself is hardly rare, but the combination of style, finishing and price make these watches potential contenders against comparable other microbrands. Let’s take a closer look at the new KLO & CO Alpesailer.
Alpesailer is the combination of two words – Alpes and Sailer. Kenn Ong, a co-founder of the company, explains that the new watches were designed with the adventurer in mind. The Alpes (French for Alps), the highest mountain range in Europe, and the romanticism of marine vessels with sails define the spirit of the new collection: an all-conquering sports watch. This new line follows the brand’s initial collection featuring hybrid movements (Miyota Automatic 6T51 + Swiss Ronda 1032) and is its first foray with now mechanical calibres.
Case and design
Designed from the ground up, the stainless steel case of the KLO & CO Alpesailer has an integrated bracelet and external bezel sporting exposed screws, giving off a bit (or a lot…) of a Royal Oak vibe, while somehow remaining unique. With a 41mm diameter and 12mm height, it’s also well-sized for a contemporary audience. The case features a “Triple Finish” with bevelled, polished and brushed surfaces, creating a pleasing, upscale aesthetic. The brushed and polished steel bezel has shallow curved sides forming an octagon, and eight exposed screw heads contrast well against its brushed face.
The brand is clearly going for that classic sports watch look. The sides and outer front angles of the bezel are polished. The sides of the main case are brushed with polished chamfers and the steel caseback has a radial sunburst finish. Polished twin-crowns sit at 2 and 4 o’clock with contrasting black rings; one is dedicated to the movement while the other rotates the internal bezel. A sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating protects the dial and the case is water-resistant to 100 metres.
Dial and hands
Two dial colours are offered on this KLO & CO Alpesailer, either Deep Blue Sunburst or Polar White Pearlescent. Large, applied Arabic numerals surround the perimeter with a date window at 6 o’clock (white print on a black background is standard on both dials). Sword-style hour and minute hands are complemented by a thin, baton seconds hand which is blue on the white dial and gold on the blue dial.
The bi-directional internal rotating bezel matches the respective dial colour and features a detailed 15-minute scale. It can be used for a variety of timing applications, such as a second time zone while travelling, monitoring elapsed time or simply as a countdown timer. Of course, it’s also useful for recreational diving as it’s again rated for 100 metres.
The heart of the new KLO & CO Alpesailer watches is a well-known Seiko NH35 automatic. It features 24 jewels, beats at 21,600vph (3Hz) with a 42-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours, minutes, hacking seconds and quick-set date. This is a low cost yet reliable workhorse with an accuracy rating of -20/+40 seconds per day.
It may not be the most accurate movement around, but it’s easily serviced, features a Diashock shock protection system and will last the lifetime of the user with proper maintenance. In my experience with the movement in several different watches, average accuracy was around +/-15 seconds per day over a one week period.
The integrated, tapered stainless steel bracelet has the same triple finish as the case with polished, brushed and bevelled elements. Its shape contributes a great deal to the Alpesailer’s design. It’s secured to the main case with exposed screws and a polished chamfer from the case continues onto the first link, creating a well-executed uniformity. It all comes together in a sophisticated aesthetic that belies its affordable price.
Luxury sports watches are among the most desirable pieces for watch enthusiasts but are often unattainable due to high prices. The Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (with the OffShore model being sort of a reference here) is arguably the most celebrated of these, with more affordable options like the new Bell & Ross BR05. The KLO & CO Alpesailer is certainly not at the level of either of those, yet still offers the same basic formula in an easily attainable package. The overall execution provides an upscale appearance and flows into the integrated bracelet to form a nice, cohesive piece. If you’re looking for a classic sports watch without skipping a mortgage payment or two, give the Alpesailer a closer look.
The blue dial variant retails for USD 375 and the white dial for USD 400. Both KLO & CO Alpesailer with a one-year service warranty. For more information, visit www.klo-co.com.
i’m really liking the design of this. though 3 things are stopping me from buying it: the no lumed pip on the seconds hand, the design of the hour&minute hands is way too pedestrian and boring and generic, and, most crucially, the movement. i hope they’ll do a “V2” sometime in the future with a Miyota 9015 (or better) and more interesting hands. with those “fixed”, even at double the price it would’ve been an excellent watch
For a first attempt at a sports watch, the guys at KLO & CO definitely did a much better job than most boutique start-ups for the price they are asking. Just looking at the level of finishing and the choice of a durable and serviceable movement makes me wonder why others can’t do the same. The Alpesailer should be on the short list of people looking for a robust adventure watch under $400. As an aspiring watchmaker myself, I wish them all the best!