In this wonderful world of watchmaking, timepieces made by manufactures or brands from different worldly regions often exhibit and project specific traits on their respective horological creations. For instance, when I think about German watches, they tend to have the innate tendency to display information with stereotypical efficiency, without any hindrance or inhibiting elements on the dial.
Hailing from the capital city of Dresden, the German watchmaker Stefan Kudoke began his watchmaking journey at a very young age. Prior to setting up his eponymous brand in 2008, he had several stints at Glashütte Original, Blancpain, Omega, Jaquet Droz, and Breguet. During the early days of Kudoke, Stefan greatly emphasized the brand’s German heritage and origin despite using only Unitas calibers at the time. In the years that followed, Stefan eventually went on and produced its very own first in-house caliber – the Kaliber 1, which is the beating heart of the timepiece that we have on offer here today – the Kudoke K2.
For those who are unaware, the Kudoke K2 recently triumphed over fierce competition to win one of the watch industry’s most coveted awards - the Petit Aiguille prize at the 2019 GPHG ceremony.
The first time I held this Kudoke 2 in my hands, I could not get over how gorgeous and charming the watch actually is in the metal. It may look simple on the outside, but a closer look on its light silvery matte grey dial would reveal a masterful exercise of technical sophistication, design restraint, and artistic expression. There is a reflective quality to it which allows it to interact subtly with different shades of lighting. The base of the dial is frosted and gives off a visual effect that is quite reminiscent of the Snowflake, albeit at a much more refined level. In my opinion, the execution on all levels shown here on the dial of the Kudoke 2 is nothing short of exceptional, in fact, exceptional is quite an understatement.
That said, the focal point here is the beautiful domed disc located at the 12 o ‘clock position. It is hand engraved, galvanized in gold, black, and white rhodium, and rotates in a 24-hour cycle which poetically depicts the sun, the moon, and stars as well as the day or the night. You will also find a tastefully discrete golden arrow that indicates the time of the day. The chapter ring surrounding the disc and the entire dial are both rhodiumised as well and lends a much-needed visual contrast. The stainless-steel hour and minute hands here are thermally blued and feature a Kudoke Handwerk signature ‘infinity’ motif, which is a very nice touch to such a simple yet elegant dial.
As far as case size goes, the polished stainless-steel case of the Kudoke 2 measures 39mm in diameter by 10.7mm in thickness, which I find quite appropriate for modern wrist sizes given its unimposing stature. Turn the watch over and you will find the magnificent hand-wound Kaliber 1-24H greeting you in all of its glory beneath the exhibition case back. What makes this movement interesting is that it was inspired by early English pocket watch movements from the 17th century, which explains the frosted finishing found on the flat surfaces of the plates and the meticulous engraving on the balance cock and the gilt bridge. An absolute visual treat, if you ask me. In terms of technical performance, the Kaliber 1-24 runs a respectable power reserve of approximately 46 hours.
All things considered, the Kudoke K2 is the type of watch that requires you to, in the words of John Mayer, “look closer, look closer still”. Because only by looking closer will this understated work of art reveal to you its true beauty. To me, this is why watches from independent watchmakers are so special and exciting – the amount of attention given to the tiniest little details makes the watch a real pleasure to wear and experience.
The Kudoke 2 is a truly special timepiece and it is not difficult to see why it managed to steal the hearts of connoisseurs around the world as well as the GPHG jury. Every element found on the watch, from the finishing to the overall design is executed to a very high level.