Obaku

Obaku!

No it’s not a board game nor is it a type of wood – it is in fact a rather smart and minimalist watch called the Obaku Harmony. I liked the look of it and though it might go well in my collection.

ObakuStudioBig

Harmony V119GBBRB from Obaku

After all I have always thought about buying a Skagen watch – you know the Scandinavian modernist design watch that was all the rage a few years ago. Well maybe that great popularity was what held me back and I never did take the plunge until now with the appearance, not of the Skagen, but another Scandinavian designed watch that looks pretty smart.

A fusion of cultures according to the blurb, minimalist, simple, serene yet modern and elegant – with quite a decent stab at quality I have to say.  One of the benefits or maybe a curse to a manufacturer is that when a watch comes along that has very simple lines, any faults show up very easily and obviously.  So it is an absolute requirement that quality has to be very good indeed to resist the close scrutiny that is so easily achieved even to the casual looker.

ObakuSide

The Obaku Harmony is slim at 7.5mm depth

This model is called the “Harmony” – deep philosophy going on here and is the brainchild of not one but two designers.

Lan Liengard Ruge and Christian Mikklelsen from Denmark are responsible for the surprisingly diverse range of both ladies and gents models.
Clean lines, simple design and with everything aligning together in peace and “harmony” – more than just telling the time, but an expression of ones inner peace perhaps.

ObakuHand

Minimalist, black & modern

At 42mm diameter this is a decent sized watch and with a depth of only 7.5mm a very slim watch indeed for the diameter, but not too much as to look odd. It is just about perfect. The case is black stainless steel and has 12 stainless steel studs set around the bezel which are basically the minute markers, as the black face itself is entirely without batons. The hour and minute hands are bright white colour for 3/4 of their length and the centre second sweep hand has a nice white tip.  The hands otherwise are black like the face, so the time indication and seconds count is very clear.
On this model there is also a date window @6 with a nice white contrasting date wheel underneath showing though.
The glass on the Harmony is rather unique in the watch world as it’s made of Titan Glass, a product over 10 times more crack resistant that either mineral or sapphire – quite exclusive to Obaku I understand.  The case too is not just 316 stainless but is additionally coated with Titanium.
The case back is also black, stainless and marked with the usual information plus the designer’s name – in this instance the first of the two mentioned above.
The crown is quite unobtrusive @3 and has nicely wide defined knurl marks so is easy to use and set.

P1000896

Titanium & stainless mesh adjustable bracelet

ObakuWrist

Sleek black performer

FlatWebThe bracelet is a very fine and smooth stainless mesh style with a locking clasp and full adjustment – very easy to set and adjusts for my small wrist with no trouble at all.

On this version apart from the Obaku Harmony name on the dial face there is also reference to “by Ingersoll” who market the watch I understand.

Movement wise not much information apart from the web site specification detail saying that they use a high quality Japanese Quartz movement and the watch overall has a Water Resistance rating of 3ATM – so not really for swimming.

One other noteworthy point is that the battery is probably a SPhon Mercury/Lead free Silver Oxide which is also fairly unique and another philosophy statement in that it will save the planet – maybe!  Once it’s dead (the battery, not the planet) you can simply use a standard battery – so no problems there.  The bracelet is also a suitable width to match the watch nicely at 22mm.

So there you have it – another nice addition to my collection and very nice it looks too. Finally managed to get my Scandinavian design watch after all and not a run of the mill, but one that’s just that little bit special perhaps.
And as to wearing, well the bracelet and the watch itself as a team is so incredibly smooth and comfortable, I simply don’t realise it’s there.  It is a most lovely watch to wear without a doubt.
It is also very clear to read which firmly ticks my clarity issue box that I have with all watches – maybe because I’m getting older and the old eyesight is not what it was.

Oh I almost forgot – this watch has a lifetime Guarantee (yes that’s lifetime!), so that can’t be bad – and it comes in a Zen like white box with full instruction book.

So any downsides?
Well yes as it happens – these lovely clear hands completely disappear at night in the dark as they are not coated with any luminous material at all!    Nada, nothing – so forget the time when you go to bed (use the old bed side clock).

But there again – why worry – maybe this is part of the design philosophy of the “Harmony” – don’t worry about the time – now – it’ll still be there in the morning – is that cool or what?

Update – 31st January 2011 – Check out my “watch of the Week” page – I feature this watch again with more info. . . .

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10 thoughts on “Obaku

    • Hi Steffen,
      The bracelet has I suppose what you’d call an “infinity” adjustment. The clasp can be moved simply by lifting a catch and re-clamping it wherever you want anywhere along the length of the bracelet. I have a smallish wrist at 170mm and it fits me fine. But it could go much smaller.

  1. I’ve been quite excited about getting an Obaku watch, after having discovered the range a couple of weeks ago. However, I then had a look at Amazon and found this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Obaku-Ingersoll-Gents-Stainless-Bracelet/dp/B001R4BDQ8/ref=cm_cmu_pg_t

    Compare the users’ photos with Ingersoll’s version. I think you’ll be as disappointed with me. I guess your watch lived up to expectations, but this model looks quite different ‘in the flesh’

    • Hi Rob,
      It is unfortunately a problem with most watch sites in that they use computer enhanced images to represent the items. I agree they are almost always misleading, especially Amazon. One of my pet concerns when buying a modern watch is to make sure that it is legible – I want to be able to read the time easily and here the images are really misleading.
      Gold or silver hands for example are invariably shown with the light in such a position that they appear almost a dark or black “contrast” to the dial , which is far from the case. Seeing a photograph always shows this up.
      However, that said, some of the watch sites sometimes display an alternative 360º flash image (watchshopuk.com is one of them actually) where they use the real watch – and then you can make a much better judgment. Also I always take note of the dimensions (again if not listed then check the manufacturer’s site for that info).
      But it’s really a case of “buyer beware” I’m afraid and I always, always trawl around to see if I can see the same model (maybe on pre-owned sites as they use real photos) where a proper photograph of the item is shown.
      The only downside to my Obaku was the lack of lume on the hands – but it wasn’t mentioned on the spec’ anyway and I took a chance. Otherwise the watch is as I expected and more actually, so quite pleased.
      If this style of watch interests you however, I note the Skagen are doing some nice models at the moment and these can be got at pretty good prices.

  2. Pingback: 2010 in review « Watch space

    • Good question – The official web site is – http://www.obakuwatches.co.uk/ – the Obaku range was launched in 2007.
      The watches are marketed by Tabernus Ltd a major watch retailer group and they are associated with Zeon Ltd Importers.
      Most of the components of the Obaku (Ingersoll) range, case, movements etc. are Japanese origin and I would assume the watches are made in Asia somewhere and imported to the UK. The range is available from Amazon, thewatchhut and many others.
      As for quality – certainly the watch I have is very well made and has worked faultlessly and I have no complaints at all.

  3. Just a note – I’ve now sold on the Obaku – one of around a dozen of my watch models sold to make way for new acquisitions. It was too often in the display cabinet and not getting wrist time – which is my personal guide to which models stay or go. Sorry to see it go but new items and directions await!

  4. I have a Harmony and have experienced cracked glass despite no abuse. Seems rife on Amazon reviews. The so-called Titan glass is not covered by the warranty! Did you know these are Chinese watches? After approaching Obaku for support, I was invited to send the watch to Hong Kong for a new glass. The repair cost £25 and the round trip was about 4 weeks. It was returned with a faulty date mechanism so they repaired it (again) free of charge but with another month’s wait. Now the strap has burst (mine is black leather with twin screw attachment – quite useless) – and I can’t find a reasonably priced replacement. It’s going to be cheaper for me to buy a secondhand Obaku from eBay – which is what I recommend everyone who likes the style to do. The warranty is worthless imo.

    • Wow you certainly have had some problems with that Obaku (Ingersoll) watch! The glass (Titan) is supposedly very strong, but still prone to scratches I understand,
      so it seems you were very unlucky. Ingersoll and other designer brands with no in-house manufacturing tend to use independents (such as Comtech perhaps) and others
      so is tricky to even know the true source. Chinese movements are very common however, so Hong Kong makes sense. Seems very wrong that the glass is not covered, though
      they can always cite physical damage despite what the customer claims, hence their reluctance to guarantee.
      The leather straps being prone to tearing/splitting at the screws – this is common with twin screw strap fittings and why I didn’t entertain one, getting the metal
      band alternative, which has been great. Better brands if using this system tend to use a mica sandwich layering at the strap fitting end, which makes it much stronger
      and prevents splitting usually.
      When I got mine in 2009 the only data I had for it was the marketing blurb from Obaku, which of course is usually economical with the reality. However, that said, when I sold mine
      on some years ago it was still in perfect condition. No problems at all, no scratches, no cracks and AS NEW – and I had worn it frequently. Maybe I was lucky, but that’s the issue with
      many so called “designer” brands – bought in assemblies usually from Asia and you the customer are the Quality Control department.
      Interesting to note that over the years I’ve bought a few “designer” brands – but I don’t have any now having sold them on. Maybe that says something.
      Many thanks for sharing the information though and the more experiences publicized, helps the decision for any prospective buyer.

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