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WhiteFox Eclipse Review

Bringing the world of mechanical keyboards to the masses

For those who frequent these pages to learn more about watches, we bring you an article that is both a product review and a window into a field you would most certainly adore.

We will explore the world of mechanical keyboards and how one company, Apos, is taking on the industry’s biggest challenges with its historic WhiteFox Eclipse. I have put together a quick primer for those unfamiliar with mechanical keyboards here (another is available on Reddit here), and I advise you to keep it open in a separate window for reference as you read along.

This article consists of interviews with people who either work in the watch industry or are collectors who have all come to love their mechanical keyboards. Furthermore, dozens of additional mechanical keyboard enthusiasts were interviewed and asked for their feedback, specifically on the model we are reviewing today for this article. The list of those interviewed and where you can find their work will be at the end of this article.

It is my goal to introduce you to the wonderful world of mechanical keyboards while ensuring that you are equipped to handle the quirks in the marketplace and, hopefully, get the best tool in your hands.

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Why Mechanical Keyboards

Most animals will go to great lengths to improve their quality of life when afforded the opportunity. Cat owners know this all too well from their content pets as they knead a blanket and make “biscuits” for a comically long period. When reaching a place of relative comfort, humans will go to comical lengths to make their environment more comfortable. As millions were forced to make their homes also perform as their offices, it was no surprise to many that the popularity of mechanical keyboards erupted during the pandemic.

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Keyboards are afterthoughts for most people, and most settle on which keyboard comes with their computer. In some cases, many buy a seemingly upgraded version from Apple or Logitech. All these upgraded off-the-shelf offerings provide a hollow user experience, lacking in durability and devoid of any joy. Just as watches can be an irrelevant afterthought for many, they can also, for others, be tools that are also works of art; the same applies to keyboards. As mass-market luxury timepieces from Rolex and Omega are coveted for their artful designs and manufacturing, Apos, with their WhiteFox Eclipse mechanical keyboard, leverages modern manufacturing to bring such premium and luxurious experiences to your workspace.

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This heightened level of manufacturing simply results in superior tools, which attracts many who are looking for instruments that better suit their needs. “I initially got into mechanical keyboards after a few years of wearing out the standard OEM boards that come with computers,” said Eric. “My need for a mechanical keyboard is purely the need for a more robust piece of equipment.”

Famed watch designer Matthew Smith-Johnson expanded on this view and why he got into the world of mechanical keyboards. “I don’t like replacing things, y’know? Tech, especially, is far too disposable, and I’m not a fan of that. I’d rather buy a well-made thing one time and try to have it for as long as possible. After running through my fair share of wafer-thin Apple keyboards (which, in his case, all starting warping within months of use), I decided to seek out something more robust and, importantly, repairable.”

I fell into the camp of mechanical keyboard users who gravitated to them as superior equipment. My “daily driver” (a common term used by enthusiasts) is the HHKB Professional Type-S, which is as unaesthetic as a mechanical keyboard can get. What the HHKB lacks in terms of aesthetics is that it makes up for it by offering legendary reliability, efficiency, and comfort. There are those, however, who choose to enliven their workspaces with highly customized keyboards. Some of these keyboards are adorned with keycaps made by artisans that are genuine pieces of art. Marshal Kai uses these artisan keycaps for just “… the ESC key, like an accent piece.” Pictured below, you can see how beautiful his workspace is and how his mechanical keyboard is the center of gravity.

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Frank Affronti, Watch Clicker’s Creative Director, also loves his artisan keycaps for his mechanical keyboards. “I have multiple artisan caps, but they are never on keys that get used,” he said before giggling.

So, as you can see, it was a surprise that as the lockdowns we experienced a couple of years ago faded into memory, I discovered a rather large contingent of mechanical watch enthusiasts also became mechanical keyboard enthusiasts. However, there is a perfect reason why mechanical keyboards have not infiltrated every workspace in offices and homes alike.

Unlike the very mature market that the watch industry enjoys, the mechanical keyboard industry lacks the infrastructure support and centuries of experience to call upon. Mechanical keyboards have not enjoyed the continued market growth and maturation from their typewriter ancestors – as an aside, some early typewriters designed by Christopher Latham Sholes used many clockmaking techniques, such as the use of an escapement and a mainspring. As a result, the unrefined and underdeveloped mechanical keyboard market presents several daunting challenges that Apos aims to solve with its WhiteFox Eclipse mechanical keyboard. Apos is doing this by providing a consistent and reliable ecosystem while offering a mechanical keyboard with superior build quality. They also make the product incredibly easy to clean, maintain and modify. For the reasons above, the WhiteFox Eclipse deserves your attention and may improve the quality of your life.

What is the WhiteFox Eclipse, and what problems is it trying to resolve?

The original WhiteFox was made over eleven years ago by a designer named Matteo Spinelli. Along with his other work, Mr. Spinelli rightly became a legend within the mechanical keyboard community. For the first time, his efforts brought what consumers expected from high-end consumer electronic products to the world of custom keyboards. To use a sneaker analogy, Mr. Spinelli, who is affectionately called Matt3o, is essentially the Michael Jordan of the mechanical keyboard industry who also designed the Nike Air Jordans himself.

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Over the years, the WhiteFox became the template for others to follow, and many iterations of the keyboard were made, some with Mr. Spinelli’s involvement and some without. The keyboard’s 65% layout left out the number pad and provided an aesthetically attractive, compact, robust, yet powerful tool.

Now, under the company Apos, Mr. Spinelli’s original design has been modified and explicitly modernized to address the issues in the mechanical keyboard industry. By introducing a growing and entirely streamlined ecosystem, this keyboard is practically perfect right out of the box. Due to its use of magnets and not screws, it is also straightforward to work on and maintain. The amount of time and effort one would put into making their mechanical keyboard is the top complaint and reason why people never bother to venture too deeply into mechanical keyboards. Apos is making the entry point into the hobby a less painful and overwhelming one while also making it more appetizing to remain in the hobby for those who are invested and well-versed in it.

The Keys

Mechanical keyboard enthusiasts usually prioritize the sound profile of their keys and how each keystroke feels. Unfortunately, the industry does not make choosing the right keys easy, and several choices exist.

When it came to researching and learning more about mechanical keyboards, Jacob Witkin rightly said that there are “very few, if any, resources outside of YouTube that explain any of the basics of keyboards. Additionally, the lack of consistency in naming conventions for parts is confusing.” Everyone interviewed repeated this sentiment time and again.

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Mr. Witkin went on to say that he wished for a greater “streamlining naming of conventions. While the names of switches are adorable, there is no way for you to know what switch it is unless you memorize it. Cuddle berry bluebugs could be the most aggressive tactile heavy switch, and you’d never know.”

This is the first place where Apos centered their attention on the WhietFox Eclipse. After a month of typing on this pre-production keyboard, I could not have made a better choice if my life depended on it. This opinion was echoed by many enthusiasts who tried out the keyboard at a convention. They mentioned that the WhieFox sounded perfect for professional settings. Many companies, such as Cherry MX and Gatreon, offer mechanical key switches. Apos went with the Gatreon yellow linear switches for the WhiteFox Eclipse. Not content with the sound profile, Apos went the extra mile to also lubricate these keys straight from the factory. This is highly appreciated, for lubricating your keys can be very time-consuming. Mr. Affronti said, “Once you have everything in hand, the assembly time (can be) around 4-6 hours for just lubricating.”

Users can easily change these keys to another set that suits their tastes. These hot-swappable keys make the keyboard infinitely more repairable and easier to maintain. They also allow for exciting combinations. “I am able to customize the feel of each section of the board,” said Eric. Unlike most other people who choose quieter keys in office environments, Eric comically does the opposite. “Also, using a (loud) clicky switch on the number pad drives my coworkers crazy when I’m entering numbers into spreadsheets.”

The Eclipse makes a hot-swappable board all the easier. For the board’s construction, utilizing many strong magnets saves time and effort. Thus, the Whitefox Eclipse is the perfect platform for a new enthusiast to experiment on and grow, for you do not have to bother having tools to modify or change out some options on your board quickly.

As Jake stated above, the colour coding used to differentiate how a mechanical key feels and sounds is not universal and shared amongst all companies. This is why we advise you to read the descriptions carefully and not give in to looking for short hands in this industry.

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The Typing Experience on the WhiteFox Eclipse

Typing on the WhiteFox at first took some getting used to. The 65% layout vastly differs from my 60% HHKB setup, and the shorter keystroke travel initially caused greater fatigue. In time, my fingers adjusted and were helped with the gasket-mounted board, which softened every impact with every keystroke. The noticeable actuation point of the Gatreon yellow switches made it relatively easy for my muscle memory to develop quickly and to make typing effortless. By the third week of use, I was typing faster on the WhiteFox than on any other keyboard I had ever typed on. The beautiful mechanical “clicks” and “clacks” from the lubricated keys resulted in more productivity as I wanted to work. I was skeptical about the WhiteFox endearing itself to me and my workflow, but it did so with charm and effectiveness.

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After testing various keyboards from other manufacturers, such as Keychron, Apos’ attention to detail became crystal clear. The PBT Dye-sublimated keycaps, which come in at a thickness of 1.5 centimeters, instantly offer a premium experience. When I handed the Eclipse to Mr. Smith-Johnson to try, he noted that the keycaps felt great when compared to his Keychron. The lasting impression one gets with the keycaps and switches is one of refinement and luxury. This board makes the act of typing a joyous one. All those interviewed for this article, save for one, stated that their levels of productivity and workflow were significantly improved with customizable mechanical keyboards.

The WhiteFox Eclipse features Bluetooth 5.0 BLE connectivity, and its battery is conservatively rated for around 90 hours of use. This is highly appreciated for circumstances where one has multiple workstations, making moving the keyboard from one to another straightforward. In all my testing, I never encountered a situation where the keyboard lagged or when the connectivity dropped. I did not test the macro programming capabilities, for I do not need them for my line of work, nor the game mode, which disables certain keys to negate accidental key actuation, for I am not a gamer. This keyboard, however, was built with everyone in mind, and it does not suffer from this.

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Modernizing a Classic with Expanded Versatility

Lubricating keys naturally makes the keys quieter, but they also make them smoother to type on. This was highly appreciated for meetings when I did not want the sound pollution of my keyboard to overwhelm the call. Apos also considered light pollution for one’s work environment when it came to the WhiteFox Eclipse. RGB lighting has grown in popularity with average consumers and enthusiasts alike. However, some seasoned mechanical keyboard enthusiasts, like Mr. Kai, emphasized that he does not like backlit keyboards by emphatically saying, “No, no RGB!” By offering many programmable colors, patterns, speeds, and intensities, the Eclipse is the perfect keyboard for the office and your home gaming setup.

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I found little use for the backlit keyboard. Mr. Smith-Johnson loved the great variety and customizability of the RGB lights and was especially taken with one animation pattern that rippled outwards from the key that was struck.

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One of the main reasons why I type with an HHKB Type-S is for its portability. The Eclipse is available in three different case sizes, and its base version is the most portable. The one tested for this review is the top-of-the-line high-profile case made of aluminum. Also available is a low-profile aluminum case, and here is where things get interesting: the basic plastic case. Because strong magnets hold together the WhiteFox Eclipse, one could easily use the smaller and lighter plastic case for travel to and from their office and one of the aluminum cases at their stationary work or play stations. Sturdy magnetic feet are also available for the low-profile case for added comfort, depending on your typing demands.

With well over a month into the review process for this article, I also received a base unit for review. Besides the weight difference, there is a slight difference in the sound emanating from the keyboard with the plastic case.

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The high-profile aluminum case you see here is beautifully made and well worth the $315 asking price. When handling this review unit of the Eclipse, Mr. Smith-Johnson loved the weight and build quality of the aluminum case. Its finishing is gorgeous, opulent, and a delight to look at and touch. The fit and finishing are stellar, and it would look like a home next to expensive high-end audio equipment. However, it is heavy, so I recommend buying the base plastic case separately, which is available for $60 as well for when you must travel or unexpectedly have to work in a café for a couple of hours between meetings.

If the base kit is all you need, it costs an incredibly affordable $140. That is within the same price range as mass-market keyboards made by Keychron – which are used by two of those whom I interviewed for this article. Honestly, I am writing this with complete and utter sincerity, and the base kit is a purchase that is an absolute must-buy for anyone looking to upgrade from their OEM keyboard. Nothing else on the market comes close regarding quality and typing experience at this price.

The base Eclipse may likely be the only keyboard you want or need. Like Eric, Mr. Smith-Johnson, and myself, most people will be satisfied with one tool that does the job. “You don’t keep looking for your car keys after you’ve found them,” said Mr. Smith-Johnson. The base WhiteFox Eclipse promises to do this for these consumers and is a no-brainer purchase for anyone interested in arming themselves with the best and most versatile tool for their work. The typing experience of the WhiteFox Eclipse is entirely different from that of other mechanical keyboards in the $150 price range.

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The only complaint I had heard about the WhiteFox was that the foam was glued to the cases. One experienced enthusiast at a convention pointed out that she would like the option to use the foam or not. This presents a design problem that could easily be solved. The foam acts as a border for the battery to remain still within the case. If the molding of all cases added a ridge to hold the batter in place without the need for the foam, this would greatly aid the mission of the WhiteFox Eclipse, being the most customizable keyboard out of the box. Such ridges require different tooling and a slightly different manufacturing process, which would undoubtedly add to the cost of each case. Based on what I heard from others who are more well-versed in this field, this added cost would be a welcome one.

Final Thoughts

This makes the WhiteFox Eclipse worth writing about here on the Watch Clicker. For the first time, there is a valid option for those looking for an approachable, simple, and durable mechanical keyboard. The fact that the Eclipse with the standard kit can be had at the very competitive price of $140 astonishes me why it has not gotten more attention. Though similarly priced offerings from Keychron may have heavier cases, their PCBs, key switches, and keycaps are incredibly subpar when compared to those on the Eclipse.

At the time of writing, my only other feedback for Apos is to sell the two aluminum cases separately. This would allow those who want to get their feet wet before committing to a larger, heavier, and more expensive keyboard to upgrade as they see fit. This would further relieve any hesitation on the part of the consumer to buy the Eclipse.

While also a great entry point, the soon-to-be-expanded ecosystem, and continued firmware support make this keyboard an obvious purchase for enthusiasts. Enthusiasts, more than anyone, can appreciate not having to bring out their tools whenever they want to clean or modify their keyboard. The team behind Apos consists of some of the most devoted and legendary people in the industry, and this beautiful keyboard will likely continue to be supported for many years to come.

Apos’s ecosystem will also tackle the biggest hindrances and annoyances in the mechanical keyboard market. There will be no group buys (think of them as mini kick-starters) or drops. The parts that you want for your Eclipse will be available from Apos. Every single person interviewed for this article went on at great length about how this one factor either nearly or fully crippled their joy for the hobby.

The higher-priced options are also well justified in the marketplace. Those such as myself who use a professional-grade mechanical keyboard will also find great value here. Ultimately, if I could no longer rely on my two HHKB, I’d instantly buy this high-profile case variant and the $60 base case when forced to work remotely. Adding the arrow keys of Eclipse’s 65% layout versus the 60% of my HHKB is not vital for my workflow, but they are appreciated.

The next time you are in the market for a keyboard and are tempted by products such as Apple’s fragile Magic Keyboards or offerings from brands such as Logitech or Keychron, make sure that the WhiteFox Eclipse is the first alternative you look into. It would be a grave mistake not to.

An exceptional thanks to all who contributed to and were interviewed for this article:

Thank you to the team at Apos for the opportunity to tell the story of the importance of the WhiteFox Eclipse.

To Cameron Lazanich, for his thirst for practical knowledge, for inadvertently making many people part with their money on keyboards, and for spreading joy.
Mr. Lazanich is a watch collector who used to work for a brand. He can be found on Instagram at @camronlaz.

To Nelson Wu, for his vast historical knowledge of typewriters and keyboards and constant drive to improve the lives of others through enriching the tools and objects we hold most dear.
You can find Mr. Wu’s work on the R-Werk Type-01 here and on Instagram under @rwerk.design and my interview with him many months ago here.

To Frank Affronti, thank you for his honest and deep insights into the keyboard industry from the perspective of an enthusiastic consumer and working professional, and thank you for your feedback regarding the WhiteFox Eclipse. Mr. Affronti is a Structural Engineer, the Creative Director for the Watch Clicker, and a photographer. You can see his photographic work here and follow him on Instagram under @frendymgee.

To Will, who is not only the founder of the Watch Clicker but also uses mechanical keyboards in his office. Without Will’s efforts, bringing you such long-form articles would not be possible.

To Jake Witkin, his grounded curiosity drives the enthusiasm of others in his vicinity into overdrive. Mr. Witkin owns and operates a freelance media content and consulting agency. His work can be found here and on Instagram under @j.witkin.

To Eric, whose humor and ability to see things from all perspectives fills those who encounter him with an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Eric works in armed security, is a watch collector, and makes leather watch straps, amongst other leather goods, in his spare time.
Eric and his stunning work are on Instagram under @ea8 and @ealeathergoods.

To Marshall Kai for his understanding of mechanical keyboards and for illuminating aspects of the industry and hobby that greatly helped this article. Mr. Kai is a copywriter and content writer in the watch industry and the founder of The Matick Blog. His work can be found on Instagram under @marsh_kai__.

Lastly, I would like to thank Matt Smith-Johnson for his time, insights, and feedback regarding the WhiteFox Eclipse. His unique considerations regarding societal and environmental impact gave this article a depth that otherwise would have been absent. As a watch and graphic designer, he has worked with brands such as Vero, Dietrich, Laco, and Seals. Mr. Smith-Johnson’s work can be found here and on Instagram under @teenage.grandpa.

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