A few days ago I discovered an absolutely fantastic gallery located in the Adelaide hills. The store occupies a historic chapel and is owned by a couple of Californian artists. What makes this business so special is that it sells a diverse range of products. Products range from bespoke artwork, high-end Italian and Danish furniture (sofas, tables, chairs etc.) to restored Japanese cabinets. Every item has been chosen with a great amount of consideration. This type of rationale also has great parallels with the world of horology. For example the meticulous attention to detail to the design of each watch component (like the dial, case and lugs).
A few months ago Richard Paige introduced me to a very talented Hawaiian watchmaker called Mark Carson. Mark’s timepieces are currently selling in Richard’s new boutique in Honolulu. Like most new brands Mark Carson had to overcome the major hurdle of designing an attractive and affordable watch. At the MB & F, Urwerk, Richard Mille and Greubel Forsey price point I would imagine it would be easier to create something extraordinary. Ultimately these companies can afford to employ the finest craftsmen to produce the best movements and designs. However to manufacture a timepiece under $2,000 is a more difficult task. Fortunately through an enormous amount of hard work, Mark has risen to the challenge.
Even though I like all of Mark Carson’s watches my favourite has to be the Ka La (“The Sun” in Hawaiian) Koa. Before the timepiece arrived I had only previously seen images on the Internet. I can now say without hesitation that pictures don’t do justice to actual watch at all. Dimensionally the timepiece measures 43mm x 12.5mm although the bespoke lugs increase the size to 55mm x 47mm. These proportions should attract a wide variety of buyers including the unisex market. I really enjoyed wearing this watch and feel it would be a practical option for daily usage. Primarily this is down to the ergonomic case design and choice of 316L stainless steel.
Visually the Ka La Koa has really high quality appearance, which I feel will appeal to a broad demographic. What makes the watch so distinctive is the solid Koa wooden dial. The nature of this charming characteristic ensures that every timepiece has a unique façade. I love the really cool second hand indication displayed on central steel disk. Other features include domed sapphire crystal, small date window (located at 3 o’clock) blue hour/minute hands and markers. Overall the sundial inspired design is cohesive and the attention to detail is meticulous.
Beneath the contemporary exterior lies a Swiss made Elaboré Grade ETA 2824-2 self-winding movement. This caliber comprises 25-jewels and oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour (4Hz). The mechanism is visibly showcased through the sapphire crystal exhibition case back. Functionally the Ka La Koa features hours, minutes, seconds and date facility. The timepiece also has a power reserve of 40-hours and is water resistant to a depth of 50 metres. Each watch is made to order and assembled by a WOSTEP trained watchmaker in Hawaii.
The Ka La Koa I tested has an exquisite blue alligator strap with matching steel folding clasp. Priced competitively at: $1,700.
For more information visit the company’s website: http://markcarson.com
Mark also has a launched a superb ladies watch on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/758138000/ka-la-ladies-watch