Hands On: Tokyo Flash Kisai Vortex watch
21 April 2015 | 0
The term re-inventing the wheel is often taken as pejorative when describing the design process, but there is also the term ‘clean sheet of paper’ which suggests a fresh start unencumbered by legacy baggage.
The face of a clock, or watch, is now so ingrained in our psyche that it seems almost unimaginable that we would tamper with this trusted method of telling the time, and yet, in midst of this current smart watch trend, that is exactly what the Japanese watch company Tokyo Flash has made a business from.
With challenging styling and edgy design, the company has coined the phrase ‘change the way you think about time’.
By this the company means that it has eschewed the usual dial and hands, going for an altogether more modern and graphical approach with representations, that in some cases resemble bar charts, pie charts and various devices, to express that most familiar concept: hours, minutes and seconds.
The model for review is the Kisai Vortex. It is a handsome, all metal, 44mm diameter, round watch that features a smooth concave face over a blue LCD screen. As the name suggests, concentric rings of segmented circles represent the passing units of hours, minutes, seconds, and one the date screen, days, months and years.
The watch features dual time modes, date and alarm functions, controlled from four touch buttons on the concave face, and a swipe sensitive screen.
Now one might ask why one would buy a watch on which one has to learn to tell the time again?
Lovers of real watches well might have an ambivalent reaction to this proposition. The undoubted quality of the beautiful grey metal finish gives it an almost liquid quality, and the smooth interaction and high quality screen only lends a further air of high-end appeal to the device. With this level of build quality and the intriguing interface, the Vortex’s distinctiveness is assured but it remains to be seen whether re-learning such a deep-set skill is something with which a watch lover will engage.
The actual screen itself features 5 concentric circles, divided in various segments, according to the units they represent. The second of the rings from the outside represents hours and places the major divisions in same positions as the conventional clock. The next inner ring is divided for minutes. The outermost ring is divided for seconds. However, probably for style considerations, the rings, while concentric are not centred and are skewed eccentrically like a cam toward the left of the face. Inside the minute ring, are indicators for AM/PM and alarm state.
It takes a bit of consideration but after a few glances it does become easy to take in the time, but every now and then one is confronted by a mixture of wonderment and confusion in equal measure looking at the display and the device as a whole.
The Vortex is not the only bold new approach to time display in the range. Others include the Radioactive, which uses what looks like a Geiger Counter gauge, the Neutron, which uses a bar representation, and the Adjust Wood which uses the most baffling of all – a grid of blue triangles that at once looks impossibly futuristic and yet reminiscent of Cuneiform.
The Kisai Vortex is available direct from the Tokyo Flash website for €175.39, along with a wide range of other high quality, intriguing designs. As a challenge to such an established form, these watches are a certain talking point, for horologist or fashionista.