In this Undone Watches review, we take a look at this young brand’s most popular model: The Urban Vintage Killy Chronograph.
Undone burst onto the watch scene five years ago and the company has been on an upward trajectory since launch–in large part thanks to the stellar reputation and vision of owner Michael Young.
Michael is an industry veteran renowned within the highly collectible vintage Rolex community as one of the go-to guys for watch servicing and repair.
In 2014, Michael used his industry expertise to bring to life a watch company based on the concept that personalization is as much a mark of modern luxury as purchase price, and thus Undone was born.
Sure, many companies have adopted the “give the customers what they want” mantra, but few deliver on that statement quite like Undone.
You can’t go more than a few clicks on www.undone.com without landing on their Customizer page, wherein you’re presented with a host of options to personalize a watch design of your choosing to your own unique desires and preferences.
On paper the recipe for Undone seems like a surefire win. But how do their watches actually measure up? Let’s find out.
Urban Vintage Killy Specs
Model: Urban Vintage Killy
Case: 316L stainless steel
Dial: Off-white cream eggshell
Crystal: Domed hardened K1 crystal
Case Dimensions: 40mm diameter x 47.5mm lug-to-lug
Watch Thickness: 13mm including domed crystal
Movement: Seiko VK61 hybrid mechanical-quartz chronograph
Water Resistance: 30 meters
Bracelet/Strap Lug Width: 20mm
Price: $295 as tested
I’ve been familiar with Undone since their inception, and the model that has always stood out to me the most is their Urban Vintage Killy mecaquartz chronograph.
While many of Undone’s offerings are very nice, to my eye the Killy stands head and shoulders above the rest. While I did play with Undone’s Customizer quite a bit (and greatly enjoyed the variety therein), when it came time to choose a model to review it was a no-brainer.
I selected the standard Killy, swapped the chronograph hand from blue to red to give the watch a little more visual pop, and I added a glass caseback through which to see the mecaquartz movement as it’s rather rare to see quartz movements on display.
Upon arrival, I was greeted with simple yet effective packaging by way of a branded fabric-covered box displaying general specifications and the date of purchase.
Inside, I found minimal materials and a watch that looked as if it were from an era long gone by.
After a quick once-over, the first thing I do with any watch is to get it on wrist as quickly as possible for initial impressions. After all, wearing is how watches are meant to be experienced and the Killy did not disappoint.
The buttery soft strap, the case proportions, and the ever-so-slightly noticeable weight assure you that you’re wearing a considerable watch on your wrist. The more time I spent wearing the Killy, the more the design’s balance and harmony became apparent.
For reference, my wrist fluctuates between 6.5-6.75” in circumference, depending on the day.
Urban Vintage Case, Crown & Crystal
For the Killy’s case, Undone chose a mostly polished case with bevels and brushed sections to provide some visual interest. The most prominent visual feature is the vintage-inspired stepped and polished bezel along with the straight lugs which jut from the case in a sharp downward angle.
These sort of lugs allow the watch to sit comfortably even on smaller wrists despite the case’s rather modern measurements of 40mm diameter and 47.5mm lug-to-lug.
Still, I’d love for this watch to be sized down to 38mm with a 44-45mm lug-to-lug measurement. Just because the watch wears comfortably doesn’t mean it looks proportionate. Sizing down would be more in line with the watch’s overall vintage aesthetic as vintage chronographs were usually 35-38mm in size.
Nitpicking a few millimeters here or there may seem trivial, but on small-scale items such as watches a few millimeters can make a world of difference in how they look and wear. But I digress.
As you look at the case a bit closer, you’ll notice the bevels on the lugs and the brushed band around the midcase of the watch. These are subtle cues, but keep the case’s overall appearance from looking like one big blob of polished metal.
These are great design choices on Undone’s part to add interest to an otherwise simple case design.
The crown is large and feels great to manipulate, but there will be very few opportunities to actually use it.
Primary hour-and-minute timekeeping is entirely quartz-based and shouldn’t need to be reset all that often (accuracy is rated at +/- 20 seconds per month so it may be several months before you notice the watch needing correction).
The chronograph pushers, on the other hand, are what most owners will use with some level of frequency. This is also where the mechanical aspect of the mechanical-quartz hybrid movement comes into play.
Personally, I’m a diehard mechanical watch fan, and I had high hopes that this aspect of the Undone chronograph would provide a certain level of charm that I find so appealing in mechanical chronographs (and so severely lacking in quartz watches).
Unfortunately, the feel of the mechanical side of this mecaquartz watch left me wanting. There is a mechanical *CLICK* that you can hear and feel when the pushers are actuated, but it felt a bit dull and vague compared to the positive *SNICK* when engaging a true mechanical chronograph movement.
I’m not sure whether this is a function of the pushers themselves, the mecaquartz movement, or a combination of the two. Either way, it didn’t quite satisfy.
Topping off the case is a domed and hardened K1 mineral crystal. For the price point this is on par with what one could expect, and I personally like the use of this sort of crystal on vintage-inspired watches as it provides a certain level of charming warmth and distortion.
In comparison, sapphire can appear a little cold and is also prone to considerable reflections (unless heavily treated with anti-reflective coatings).
The downside to mineral crystals is that they’re more prone to picking up scratches. Theoretically a hardened K1 mineral crystal should be more resistant to scratches than a standard mineral crystal, however I wouldn’t count on it looking new for years to come.
The good news is that small scratches will only add to the vintage vibe as time goes by, and if one were seriously bothered by scratches incurred over time then mineral crystals are incredibly cheap to replace.
Vintage Killy Hands & Dial
The dial design is the definite highlight of the Killy. It’s retro vintage in the best way possible. I quite like that it’s what is considered a “sterile dial” devoid of any branding save for the very small “UNDONE” text below 6 o’clock at the very edge of the dial.
With that said, if users so wish, they can add their own text or initials to the dial via the online customizer.
Based on photos and videos I had seen prior to receiving this watch, I anticipated the Killy to have a creamy and slightly off-white dial. In person, I found the dial to be considerably more custard in color with yellow undertones.
This was a bit jarring at first, and truth be told I never warmed up to the dial color over the course of my time with this watch. This is more about expectations I had that were not met, which is no fault on the part of Undone.
The dial does photograph a more neutral hue of off-white than it appears to the naked eye, though, which is worth mentioning.
The hands I chose are Undone’s leaf hands. I went with blue hands to resemble the heat-blued hands of higher end watches, however I feel as though this was a mistake.
True heat-blued hands appear black most of the time, and only flash their brilliant blue hue when the light hits them just right. The blue leaf hands on the Killy are considerably brighter than true heat-blued hands and come across a little cheap (as most chemical-blued or blue painted hands tend to).
In retrospect, I wish I’d have chosen black hands. It would have made the overall package seem more upscale. With that said, the red chronograph hand is executed very well. It’s the perfect shade of red to my eye and ties in perfectly with the red telemetre scale that circles the dial.
Undone Watches Caseback & Movement
Undone offers the option of a solid caseback, a display caseback, or a display caseback with photo printing. As it’s rare to see a quartz-based watch with a display caseback, I chose that option and elected not to have a logo or text applied as I didn’t want to obstruct the view of the movement.
While not as intricate or interesting as a mechanical movement, it’s still a nice touch to be able to see exactly what is powering the watch you’re wearing.
Seiko hybrid mechanical-quartz movements are widely considered flat-out cool in the watch community, but as my interests lie mainly with mechanical watches, I hadn’t experienced a mecaquartz movement until the Undone Killy.
The standard timekeeping is handled via the quartz side of the movement, while the chronograph functions are mechanical (at least in part).
Without delving too deep into movement science and specifics, the way this plays out in practice is that the running seconds hand located in the sub-register at 6 o’clock ticks along once per second like most quartz watches, but the chronograph hand sweeps more akin to a mechanical watch when engaged.
As such, if you are a mechanical watch fan and like to see a smooth sweeping seconds hand, you could always start the chronograph and leave it running to simulate sweeping seconds.
I tried to do this myself, but after the chronograph minutes counter at the 12 o’clock register reaches 60 minutes, the chronograph hand will stop automatically.
You’ll have to start the chronograph again every hour if you want to see continuous sweeping seconds on the watch, which ended up being more trouble than it was worth for me.
Urban Vintage Killy Strap
Undone offers a wide assortment of straps. It would be nearly impossible to not find one you love. I tend to gravitate toward dark brown leather straps, but for this review I chose a light grey vintage two-stitch calf strap for a change of pace (and because I felt it complementary to the overall lighter tones of the Killy).
Undone stamps the strap as genuine handmade leather.
To the touch, the strap is incredibly supple and pliable without being flimsy. Measuring 20mm at the lugs, the strap tapers sharply toward the clasp, wraps around the wrist beautifully, and feels like butter against the skin.
The other noteworthy detail regarding the strap is the use of quick release springbars. This allows users to swap straps by actuating small posts on the springbars found on the backside of the strap.
It’s a very simple and elegant solution to making strap changes easy rather than forcing owners to take sharp tools to the lugs of their watches. There is a downside to this, however, in that additional springbars will be required to use aftermarket third party watch straps is one so chooses.
With that said, this single Undone strap is so good that I’d urge buyers to consider the types of straps they might want in addition to the one they’re ordering and to buy additional straps from Undone at the time of your order.
What I Like
I love the vintage aesthetic first and foremost, but that’s a very personal matter. Luckily, Undone offers a bevy of options courtesy of their online customizer and finding a style you like shouldn’t be difficult at all.
More options for the customer can sometimes lead to varying levels of decision paralysis, but in this instance I’m glad Undone has such a wide gamut of personalization options.
I also loved the included strap. Yes, it’s that good and noteworthy that I’m mentioning it again in this section. A strap this nice is incredibly unexpected at this price point.
What I Don’t Like
The size and, surprisingly, the movement. Regarding the size, I understand why Undone chose 40mm. It’s a bit of a goldilocks size in that it works relatively well on nearly everyone.
With that said, I wish Undone offered this same watch in a 38mm size for smaller wrists and a 42mm size for larger wrists. Slimming the watch down to closer to 10-11mm thickness would be welcomed as well.
The Killy also lacks the tactile feel and experience I was hoping for from the mechanical side of the movement. In the end, it feels like a quartz watch that just so happens to have a sweeping chronograph hand. Had I known to expect that going in I’d have properly adjusted my expectations, but here we are.
This isn’t fine watchmaking, but it is fun, and if you’re looking for an affordable and stylish watch Undone has you covered. I could see someone appreciating an Undone watch whether it was their only watch or whether it was one watch of many in a larger collection.
Undone is also a great fit if you’re looking for a unique watch. The ability to dial in their designs with the online customizer can’t be praised enough. They also release a fair number of very interesting collaborations and limited editions.
Unfortunately, if you have smaller wrists (at or under 6” circumference) or vastly prefer smaller watches, there isn’t anything in Undone’s current catalog that is likely to fit at this point in time. With that said, they are a rapidly growing and expanding company who does listen to their customer base.
If you love their design and approach to watches, I’d recommend reaching out to them directly and expressing your interest in a watch in the 35-38mm range. Small, customer-centric companies can be surprisingly responsive, and after all, Undone is all about giving their customers exactly what they want.