How tired are you of “vintage inspired” watches? Whether it’s a brand “reborn” and dredging up old designs, or a new microbrand offering the cherished designs of yesteryear at incredible prices, it all seems stale. You can keep ’em. But not this one. The first watch from Typsim–the Typsim 200–is something better, something more. It’s distinctly vintage but feels modern, and is truly it’s own watch.
The story behind Typsim is perhaps more familiar. Founder Matt Zinksi, a Seattle-based architect, clearly knows how to design things. A fascination that started with a 1940’s Wittnauer blossomed into a full fledged obsession with watches. Eventually, he dabbled in modding and then was driven to create his own watch, inspired by the myriad vintage classics he’d encountered and driven by an inability to find his perfect watch. This wasn’t some dalliance, though. This is a man who is in the process of building a full-scale replica of R2D2 and has built his children’s furniture–he did not go about his horological undertaking half-heartedly, and it certainly shows.
On the Wrist
The way the Typsim 200-C dial comes alive in the light is a thing to behold. Even when the gilt isn’t shining, the brighter markers and hands make reading the dial a snap. In an interesting approach, the Typsim will be offered in two variants: the 200 and 200-c. The 200 will feature silver gilt and a chronometer-grade movement, while the 200-C will feature proper gold gilt and a chronometer-certified movement (tested by the Besançon Astronomical Observatory). It begs the question: is the brand is offering a stellar upper-end micro diver priced just over $1000, or value proposition dive chronometer priced just under $2000?
In any case, the watch wears well. The slim bracelet, and slightly curved lugs help it hug the wrist, and at no point did it feel uncomfortable or oversized on my 7in wrist.
The 200 (non-chronometer certified) features a silver gilt dial, which I’m sure is great, but the contrast of the gold against the black dial and surrounded by the steel case is the clear winner for me. I also assume that like this gold gilt dial, the gilt of the silver dial is heavily reliant on light to truly come alive. That said, the gilt features heavily across the dial, and the sword hands are gold tone as well. So as long as you’re in some light, visibility will not be an issue (and the lume takes will keep you safe in the darkness).
There’s a not so subtle nod to Blancpain here, with the split-tone 12-hour marker (the Typsim logo, echoed on the crown) reminiscent of the moisture indicator on the iconic Fifty Fathoms.
Whatever your view on cyclops date windows, this one is done right (the production model will feature a date wheel with custom font). The acrylic crystal gave me no issues and didn’t scratch once (surprising considering how clumsy I am). I’ve always preferred sapphire, but the choice for acrylic here makes sense given the vintage impetus for the watch.
The blue ‘200m’ is one of my favorite parts of this watch. It’s such a joyful pop of color against the black and steel and complements the gilt so well.
Don’t worry, the bezel lume will be brighter to match the hands and dial, which are plenty bright themselves. What’s really cool is what Typsim has done with the lume. Most brands., whether they are going for the vintage vibe or not, are content with the existing offerings from RC Tritec (the makers of the ubiquitous Swiss Super-LumiNova). Not Typsim. They went straight to the source to capture one of the watch world’s favorite things about vintage watches: patinated lume. The luminous compound featured on the hands and dial was made specially for Typsim and will develop a natural patina over time, from slightly off white, to the familiar creamy yellow you may know from prized vintage dials. It may not be for everyone, but there’s an objective A for effort here.
Case and Bracelet
Great finishing all around. The riveted 5-ling bracelet is easy to swap out thanks to the drilled lugs, which have beautiful chamfering and a generous downward curve that makes the watch wear better than expected. Further, the bracelet’s shorter links allow it to more effectively contour around the wrist.
One of the best crowns I’ve encountered: perfectly sized, great grip, phenomenal action. The bezel’s tight, deep scalloping is a great design choice and it’s action is just as good as the crown’s. You can see the rise of the domed acrylic crystal–subtle but definitely there–and there’s no distortion. One issue (and calling it that is a true stretch) is the numbering on the bezel, which is edge-to-edge and does get a bit wonky at angles.
This is a green NATO strap.
It’s here that you may be wondering why I haven’t shown the clasp. Well, the prototype I received was practically identical to the production model, except for the clasp, which hadn’t been finalized. If you’re familiar with the Smiths Everest two-button clasp, that’s very similar to the production model. While creating a custom clasp would have been impressive, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel (especially when the delays involved would be up to a year). I think the chosen clasp will go well with the watch and the bracelet.
This is a blue rubber strap.
Whichever market segment the Typsim 200 trying to capture, it’s a great watch. The finishing is excellent, the vintage cues are charming, and the fit is superb. With the tweaks for production, it will be a perfect execution of what it is. Would that buyers could simply choose between silver or gold without having to choose to spend more money. If I’m not considering that extra $500 to certify an already chronometer-grade movement, I’m buying the gold version, which has a bit more life and excitement than the silver seems to . As ever, though, the choice is yours.
Check out more dive watch reviews at The Watch Clicker
Check out the Typsim Watches website
Typsim 200-C Specs
Chronometer Certified Sellita SW300-1
*Height of the watch from the wrist to the top of the crystal