Unique designs don’t come along that often in the sub-$1000 watch world. A big part of that is money. The designs you see over and over again are made because they sell. It costs a lot to design and have made a custom case or dial or handset or all three. So when KAAL Watches came along with the Multiverse Edition, it caused an understandable amount of excitement (at least for me).
From the brilliant minds behind Azimuth Watches and Micro Brand Watch World, the Multiverse presents a design we’ve been seeing recently in haute horology: an unconventional dial and a superdomed sapphire crystal. You may be familiar with the exceptional MB&F Thunderdome or the Vianney Halter Deep Space, though the Multiverse has more in common with the Arnold & Son Globetrotter. What the KAAL Multiverse doesn’t share with these pieces is their price. Respectively, the aforementioned watches are $280,000, $204,000, and $17,000.
The Multiverse? It will retail for $699.
On the Wrist
For a 19mm-thick watch, the Multiverse wears exceptionally well. While it won’t tuck under any cuff but the oversized, it does sit beautifully on the wrist; chalk that up to a well-designed case. When it comes to microbrands, you often see elaborate dials at the expense of the case, or vice versa. The Multiverse is an exception. Holding off on the fun elements of the case, the lug-to-lug is kept modest against the gently curved 42mm case, and the lug holes are positioned such that the strap flows seamlessly onto the wrist.
The engaging dial is admittedly hampered by legibility issues. As I mentioned in my first look, asking buyers to adapt to a different time display is bold, and something we don’t often see in this price range. Where normally we’d have three long hands that are visible from the center pinion on out, the KAAL Multiverse gives us a rotating hour disc, partially obscured hour and minute hands that appear to float, and a bridge that partially occludes the dial at 3 and 9.
But you wouldn’t get this watch for ease of reading the time. This is a showstopper. All these unique elements are what make the watch and make the wearing of it an experience. They’re all worth the extra few seconds to tell time. For my part, I simply glanced at the hour indicator to get a rough estimate of the time; if I needed the exact time, I could go from there. And when the light catches the aventurine under the disc—oh boy!
While it may not seem so, the Multiverse has a lug box ample enough to manage a variety of straps. The different colors of the dial and the uniqueness of the watch allow this to be worn with anything, though I’m rather staid in most of my pairings, so I stuck with blues and greens in addition to the stock black strap which is pliable and well-made.
The entire purpose of the KAAL Multiverse appears to be to present the dial, in all its layered, bridged, peripheral-indicator glory. The dial is a celestially-inspired piece of art. Front and center is the hemispheric Earth (Gaea) in relief. The moon (Artemis) and sun (Sol) are also available options. The printing isn’t exceptionally high-resolution, but the texture gives it a bit of life, and at this price point, it’s impressive. The planetary representation is suspended above the rest of the dial from a sleek gantry, reminiscent of those seen on massive radio telescopes (more space stuff!).
The use of the Earth/Moon/Sun in the center of the dial means that the length of the handset is mostly blocked. What extends beyond the hemisphere is a Northern Star minute indicator and an Orb seconds indicator. The orb comes up to mimic (to me) a satellite orbiting the Earth.
The hours, on the other hand, are not indicated with a typical hand, but with a rotating disc, printed with a Star Trek-looking font. If you weren’t already spaced out, the disc floats over a layer of aventurine, creating an astral background that sparkles when it catches the light. The actual hour is indicated by a black triangle on the chapter ring, which features a seconds/minutes track.
As the dial shines as the brightest star of this timekeeping constellation, it also threatens to be its undoing. While the dial features Super-LumiNova C3 lume all over the place (the edge of the hemisphere, the chapter ring, the hour numerals, and both hands), the lume is adequate but not exceptionally bright. Further, the only parts of the hands you can see are the ends, and the cross-dial bridge and the dome of the hemisphere obscure reading at certain angles. All of this makes it exceptionally challenging to read in a number of situations. Low-light/in-the-dark reading is next to impossible. And the 5mm superdome sapphire crystal reflects everything.
This watch is enjoyable and easy to use, but mostly during the daylight hours when you have a good viewing angle.
Case and Strap
If the dial and the superdome crystal are the ship and crew traveling into the deep unknown of space, the case is ground control. It’s clearly been designed to make the dial and crystal work. You may expect a watch like this to be unwearable, but thanks to the tonneau shape, nothing is bulbous, and the case’s curvature and modest lug-to-lug allows it to sit easily on the wrist. Since the height of the watch is found in the crystal, it doesn’t look or feel too tall, as it simply peaks in the center.
Some great care has been taken with adding a bit of flair to the case, though. On the lugs are what I can only assume are meteor cutouts. On the sides, where one might expect drilled lug holes, are polished stars. And because one can never have enough lume, the KAAL logo on the crown is fully lumed. The push-pull crown is banded and knurled, perfectly sized for easy use.
Flipping the watch over, an orrery design features a small porthole where the sun would be, allowing the wearer to see the movement. While the caseback is fastened in by screws, you can only expect 30m of water resistance, which is no surprise given the haute design.
The 20mm strap that comes with the Multiverse is a thicker Horween leather affair with contrasting stitching. On the Artemis and Gaea models the strap is black, while brown leather is used for the Sol model. All three feature signed hardware that’s clearly been milled for this watch. As mentioned above, the KAAL Multiverse allowed for a good number of pairings from my strap lineup.
Much like those far more expensive models that remind me of the KAAL Multiverse, this watch is not about functionality first. While the watch is readable and it can be used to tell time, the goal is artistry and novelty. Timetelling is almost secondary, a happy coincidence, and that’s fine. This is not going to be anyone’s daily wearer. You aren’t taking this diving, or climbing, or running or anything adventurous. This is about wrist presence and having something interesting and different in your rotation.
There’s huge value here. For a short time longer, the watch is available for just $380, an amazing price for such a watch. Even when it finally settles at retail, that $699 price tag will still be a good one for what you’re getting: an affordable watch that’s actually unique.
Check out the KAAL website
KAAL Multiverise Specs
19mm including crystal dome