The Codek Spiral Watch Review: The Intersection of Design and Art
By: Jason Tricoli
The Codek Spiral was inspired by an important part of the mechanical watch known as the hairspring. The hairspring helps oscillate another part of the watch known as the balance wheel. The balance wheel is one of the easiest parts of a mechanical watch to recognize. If you peer into the display caseback of a mechanical watch, the balance wheel is the part that is rapidly moving back and forth. If you look ever so closely at the balance wheel, you will be able to make out the hairspring.
I won’t rehash all of the details of the inspirations behind the watch, because this is already well documented on the Codek website. I would invite you to check it out, along with the nice set of pictures outlining the details. However, I will point them out as I get to them in the review.
The watch arrived in a long black box with the Codek logo and name embossed on the top. The overall presentation was nice. I usually prefer when a watch is shipped in something that has potential for more everyday use, such as a watch roll. However, I did enjoy opening this box and seeing the watch nicely displayed. When a watch is shipped on a pillow, it has often flipped over when you open the box which is very anticlimactic.
Case & Crystal
- Case: 38mm
- Lug to Lug: 41mm
- Thickness: 10.6mm
- Lug Width: 20mm
The case dimension are a bit difficult to describe. The inspiration behind the case shape was the three spokes of the balance wheel and the stud (the part of the watch that is the anchor for the hairspring). To that end, the right side of the case cuts in towards the dial (representing the spokes). This line is then broken by the angular crown guards (representing the stud). The lugs on this watch are also short and angular, and when viewing the watch straight on you barely notice them. The case finishing is completely brushed save for the display case back. The brushing is well done and I think a good choice. The case is already so complex and interesting, that I think polishing some of the surfaces would have been overkill.
The non crown side of the watch is bowl shaped, and I enjoy that the complex angles of the crown side of the watch are offset by the simplicity of this one.
The lugs on this watch are drilled. This is something I greatly appreciate, and think should be featured on more watches. While I have become quite adept with a spring bar tool, I still hate bringing such a sharp implement close to one of my beloved watches. With drilled lugs, strap changes are a breeze with virtually no risk of scratching the watch.
The back of the watch features a display case back. While the case aperture on the caseback is a bit smaller than what I am used to (it measures 21mm), I appreciate being able to see the movement. Both the crystal on the display case back and the front of the watch are sapphire.
Dial & Hands
The boldness of this watch’s design was not limited to the case. The indices of this watch are inspired by the expansion and contraction of the hairspring. They certainly evoke movement, spiraling across the dial like a mathematical golden ratio. Within the indices the dial has an embossed wave pattern. Inspired by the amplitude of the hairspring, the waves catch light in interesting ways. It sometimes has a layering effect, almost like one of those old Magic Eye posters. Moving back to the edge of the dial, the minutes are indicated with a dashed, railroad style.
There is no chapter ring and the polished interior wall reflects the indices and minute markings, which is another interesting effect of the dial. At the twelve o’clock position is the Codek logo which is useful for orienting yourself when looking at the dial. Codek is written between the two and three o’clock indices, with Swiss made residing between the seven and eight o’clock indices (this watch is indeed constructed in Switzerland by Cattin). The combination of the spiraled indices, embossed waves, and reflective interior wall add a lot of visual interest to the dial.
The minutes and hours are displayed using skeletonized alpha style hands. The second hand is straight, with a rectangular counterbalance and a dash of orange at the tip. The length of all three hands is perfect. The second hand reaches a hair’s breadth past the minute markings, while the minute hand is just a hair’s breadth short of them. Due to the different lengths of the hour indices, the hour hand doesn’t have a perfect circle to follow, but rather dances with the line on the inner track of the indices.
The skeletonized hands were a great choice and add even more subtle complexity to the watch. I love when the minute and hour hand overlap, creating a third geometric skeletonized shape for just a few minutes.
There is no lume on this watch, but the high contrast between the white and blue makes the watch extremely legible (when it isn’t dark)!
The watch comes with a thick and extremely comfortable strap. A bit stiff at first, but it has broken in very comfortably. Notably, the second keeper which is usually free floating is secured with a small ribbon. This keeps the second keeper where it belongs close to the buckle. I don’t know why more watch straps don’t have this feature. I am a bit of a stickler for leather straps, and often switch out the ones that comes with my watches. However, this strap is definitely a keeper.
- Caliber: Modified ETA 2824-2
- Bph: 28,800
- Power Reserve: ~40 hours
- Regulated Accuracy: -3/+4 secs/day
The movement in this watch is the venerable ETA 2842-2. This movement is found in a huge range of watches and brands, most costing more than this watch. However, further attention has been paid to the movement in the Codek Spiral. Since the watch has no date window on the dial, the movement has been modified to remove the date set position. Without this modification, the movement would have what is known as a “phantom position,” where the crown stops in the date set position, despite there being no date window on the dial. This is another example of the attention to detail that went into this watch.
The movement has also been regulated in three positions with a stated accuracy of -3/+4 seconds a day. This one is performing closer to -1/+1 seconds a day.
At first, I was nervous that the crown guards would make operating the watch tricky. However, the polished crown is large enough to easily grip even in the handwinding position. The crown is signed with the Codek logo.
The Codek Spiral is a bold watch. Part of the danger of wandering outside the lanes of standard design styles is that the identity of the watch can get lost. The Spiral is mostly a dress watch, however it is not clearly a dress watch. And it is in this blurring of the typical design language that the Spiral is in danger of seeming like more of a casual watch. The cost of Codek’s ambition is that this watch will have a polarizing effect. Which is a shame, because the Codek Spiral is a watch that is dripping with attention to detail. It is also refreshing to see something different not for the sake of being different, but with an idea and inspiration behind it.
Moreover, at its current sale price of ~$300 (details on the Codek website), it is an absolute steal. A watch with a regulated ETA 2824 for this price is completely unheard of. So if you like the bold design language, paired with a great set of watch specs, I can recommend the Spiral at its current price. At the non-sale price of ~$600 it starts to run into a lot of competition, however, the value is still there if you are looking for a watch with an ETA movement.
(Codek Spiral on 6 and ¾ inch wrist)
Jason was catapulted into the world of watch obsession by an innocent gift from his fiancée. An accountant by trade, he is obsessed with finding the best value for money. Naturally, he gravitated towards the Two Broke Watch Snobs affordable take on watch collecting. His other interests include video games, movies, and science fiction.
6 thoughts on “The Codek Spiral: The Intersection of Design and Art”
This is definitely a watch that brings so much value and is so interesting in the details but is held back from greater success due to a quirky design, and it’s a pity. In a way, it’s like the AP Code 11:59 of the microbrand world. I hope Codek finds enough buyers to sell this model out (I am already one of them!) because I’m excited to see what the sophomore effort from this brand will be, given how much they’ve already nailed in terms of supply chain, value for money, and attention to detail.
I realized my comment sounded kind of down on the Spiral itself which is not intended. I really like mine! I just hope enough other folks who appreciate this design pick one up so we can keep seeing more efforts from Codek!
I agree! I will be eagerly watching for another watch from Codek.
I saw the Codek Spiral at WindUp SF. I’m having trouble expressing my reaction. It was as if there was a glitch in my visual cortex when I looked at it — like my brain was busted from looking at too many watches, so it was just making stuff up.
Very cool piece!
It is a very interesting watch to look at and notice things about it over time.
I bought one of these late last year as a holiday gift for my wife. It’s well made and was worth the price (if you like the design) at the $500 I paid. She was not into the design however and I returned it. The entire customer service experience was very positive. While I respect the concept-driven design decisions, I too found it awkward. This Audemars Piguet resolves the Codek’s design language more gracefully in my opinion:
Overall, I wish this young micro the best in their future endeavors.