Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Watch Review: Kent Wang Bauhaus v3

There is something about the Bauhaus aesthetic that is uniquely suited to watch design.  The minimalist, form-is-function philosophy can be especially appealing to those in pursuit - though some might say in vain - of a single watch for every occasion.  For those who want such a watch to not only be as universal as possible, but also affordable and powered by a dependable automatic movement, it's hard to think of a better candidate than Kent Wang's Bauhaus Watch V3.

This third iteration of Kent Wang's minimalist watch gets a lot of things right.  At 40mm in diameter (down from the beefier 42mm original), it's poised right at the sweet spot between today's larger watches and the more restrained proportions you'd find in vintage or dedicated dress models.  It features a polished steel case with a scratch resistant sapphire crystal, display case back, and a versatile leather strap that surprised me by managing to fit my 6" wrist on its innermost adjustment hole.  (Most regular-length straps on the market today, or offered standard on men's watches, tend to go only so far as a 6.25" wrist or so.)  As the v3's strap length was, to my understanding, lengthened to accommodate larger wrists up to 8", its ability to accommodate a 2" range in wrist sizes is extremely impressive.  In addition, the Bauhaus's lug width of 20mm means that it is compatible with a wide range of after-market strap options, from NATOs in nylon to unlined straps in shell cordovan.

Of course, it's the dial where this watch earns its Bauhaus moniker.  A simple matte surface with printed (or, in the case of the black version, applied metal) indices form a clean, uncluttered, and utter utilitarian template for telling time.  Eminently readable (especially when contrasted with the white model's blued hands), its only potential flaw - the sameness of the indices could cause one to misread the time if viewed at an off angle - is negated by the date window at 3 o'clock.  The date window's presence is the only real design concession that falls short of the Bauhaus ideal, but it serves enough of a function in utility and improved readability that I think its inclusion adds more to the watch than it detracts.

At under $400 retail (or around $300 if you can catch it during a Massdrop group buy), the Bauhaus V3 offers a tremendous amount of value for its price.  Its Japanese Miyota 9015 movement (upgraded from the Chinese Seagull the original and v2 used) is a solid competitor to the once-ubiquitous ETA 2824-2, and is the workhorse movement that many watch brands turned to after ETA shuttered its supply lines to third parties.  It matches the 2824-2 in virtually every metric except for its winding rotor mechanism, which is uni-directional rather than bi-directional.  While hardly a deal breaker in itself, that fact does mean that it will wind itself a a slightly reduced rate versus a comparable movement with a bi-directional rotor.  It had no difficulty sustaining itself while I used it as my workday wearer, despite my mostly sedentary responsibilities, and if you plan to wear it every day, as I did, it should have no trouble keeping itself wound from day to day.

If you're looking for an extremely versatile yet affordable automatic - perhaps as your introduction to automatic watches in general - Kent Wang's Bauhaus v3 watch is an excellent choice.