Well it had to happen as in fact I said, in a post some time ago when reviewing some of the One Handed watches currently available. My favorite was at that time and still is the Botta series – and if you recall I reviewed the Botta 24 Uno in September 2011, and whilst I liked it very much, the Botta model I decided on had to have something a little extra –
The Botta Duo 24 Black – and here it is –
As you see this is a Dual One-Hand watch so to speak, which I know sounds a little bit odd, but bear with me because you might just be surprised. I know I was after taking a more careful look at it.
Basically what it does is show both local time and the time at one additional Time Zone – but – and here’s the clever part – it uses just ONE hand in each case. It’s what I personally call “minimalistic clever”. So maybe minimalist but it’s actually showing remarkable detail as well. And to me that is clever!
Whilst I used the minimalist description, it is more accurately a watch designed more in the German “Bauhaus tradition”. This means it is produced in a radically simplified form but with the watchwords (sorry!) of rationality, functionality and not least – artistry. A wonderful concept.
As you see here the dial is very clear with the large yellow main hand pointing as it does to the main outer and upper level track. This track is divided into 5 minute segments and covers 12 hours as a regular watch. Using this outer ring the first revolution will reach at first the 12 noon and after 12 hours it’s the 12 midnight.
However for the second time zone or GMT setting which is your choice of course, it is the lower level or inner 24 hr numerical ring that is used and with a rather neat secondary pointer hand. Here in this level of the dial, note the clever use of the darkened lower half of the face. This denotes day time and night time. So using and reading the 24hr ring it means that from 9am in the morning (left) till 6pm in the evening (right) is in effect a really intuitive graphical illustration of your day but spread out in front of you. Later of course and after 6pm we travel clockwise into the darkened lower half of the dial, through the evening then into the night and midnight, then move up once again towards daylight and 9am at the left side.
Interesting concept and as an example try and visualize the watch face as a man standing looking out to sea and at the horizon of the sea.
Just as the sun rises in the east or the left side of the horizon, which is also 6am, the sun then rises in the sky till at midday it is overhead or at the 12 position – noon. It then progresses through the afternoon till evening, which we’ll call 6pm or the right horizontal position, then midnight at the foot of the dial – numbered “0” – not 24 and as it should be (there is no 24hr in Military time). Also note that in the 24hr dial as I’ll call it, the graduations are in 10 minute intervals, not 5 minutes, and this is so clever and all about clarity. As you know the closer to the center, the graduations would normally be smaller and more difficult to read – so here they simply keep the same graduations in the available space – but these are now 10 minutes instead of five – it’s quite brilliant and so simple.
Another feature of the two shades of the upper and lower halves of the dial – you can immediately see if the Second Time Zone is in the dark or in the daylight – so you can phone that business contact or your good lady back home, knowing you’re not going to wake him or her up at some ungodly hour!
When at home and not traveling abroad, what I do is to set both hands to my local time. For example – I have the main hands set to 6pm and I have the secondary 24hr hand set to 18hrs, so I know it’s the afternoon/evening and not early morning. And being used to reading two hands anyway (hour and minute on my usual watch), but here I see immediately if it’s evening or morning. (usually of course looking outside would tell you that! – but here in Scotland over the past few weeks it’s very difficult to tell the difference!).
This modified Swiss Ronda 515.24H has an unusual quirk when setting the 24 or second time zone hand. This is set by pulling out the crown to the first stage, then rotate the crown anticlockwise to set the 24 hr hand to a time approximately minutes ahead of the desired time. Push back the crown to it’s original position. Now after pushing the crown back in, it takes the movement exactly 5 minutes to compensate for the degree of play in the hands. It then displays the correct time after that five minutes. I assume this is because the outer scale is 5 minute graduations and the inner 24hr one 10 minutes and this compensates for the difference.
The watch details are –
Diameter – 40mm, Depth only 7.5mm. Weight 43 g, 3 ATM Water Resistant, Calf Nappa strap with stainless steel buckle, Made in Germany.
So a nice watch and concept with the 2 hands for two times, but is it a winner? Well so far I’m finding it very, very good.
A slight reservation, though personal is that the dial graduations are very small so if you wear glasses, then you’ll need them! But that said having a separate hand for the 24hr reading is so clever and does improve on the sub-dial found on other 24hr watches if reading accuracy is needed.
Anyway it’s in my collection now – perhaps as an oddity or an unusual model of it’s time and it’s certainly a talking point. Botta – you’ve got to “hand” it to them – they are pretty unique!
UPDATE – 23rd December 2012
Having had and worn the watch for a while now I am surprisingly finding it very easy to read – at a glance you can immediately assess the time and rather accurately too if you look more closely. So it scores highly in that department, which I confess was a concern, but now laid to rest conclusively.
I had a slight niggle due to the shape of the case. Even although the back is quite tight against the wrist, the front/face of the watch including the crown is held away from the wrist. Basically owing to the back diameter being smaller at 30mm that the front, therefore making the watch top heavy and I found it moved around my wrist. If the back was 40mm as the front, then it would tend to stay where it was.
So – I decided to change the leather strap to a silicon deployment variety – to see if this would improve things – and it worked a treat! – The watch is now held flat against the wrist as it should be and doesn’t travel around the wrist. The deployment strap can be adjusted so much more accurately than pre-cut holes in a leather strap. And it actually looks good to. I’ll post an image as soon as I can.
Overall however I am very happy with the watch – in fact even more so now the strap issue is resolved! Just needs a date window now to be pretty much perfect!
Note – The watch movement is a modified version of the Ronda 515.24H.
UPDATE January 2105
Well as with all my watches – if I don’t wear ’em I move them on and that’s the case with the Botta one handed 24 Duo. Great watch but I simply haven’t worn it for months and months – and that’s no good at all. Despite being a one off a kind of model that’s as beautifully designed as it is made, I’ve taken it to Auction. It also might be that as I get older I’m gravitating towards the more conventional dials and hand layouts (my eyesight is not as good as it once was) and it’s too much trouble to read it ( my brain’s slowing down too! ). Though as I said in the review it’s actually very easy – but no longer for me AND I can’t see the dial at night – and luminous night reading is becoming an essential for me today.
So we’ll see what t brings and it could be interesting as it rarely see in an action – so as ever – Watch this space!
ps – I still have my Botta Argos which is conventional dialed and it won’t be going anywhere but my wrist!