Many wood watch designs today are simply copies of their metal and plastic counterparts. They offer no real innovation and it almost seems like many brands are simply substituting metal or plastic components for wooden ones – this is where the Grovemade watch differentiates itself. The watches show an inspiration from the materials they are made of (wood) and bring on a new level of minimalist design.
Grovemade are a small business based in Portland, Oregon that design and craft accessories made of walnut or maple for the home, desk and for Apple products. In partnering up with Stefan Andren, the former design director for Nike TechLab, they have produced a new line of wood watches. Today, we take a look at the Watch 01 collection.
Wood: Eastern hardrock maple or Oregon claro walnut
Movement: Japanese Miyota 5Y26 quartz
Band: Vegetable-tanned leather strap
Metal: Stainless Steel (Watch 01) or with PVD 22 karat gold plating (Gold Watch 01)
Band Width: 21 mm | 0.83”
Case Diameter: 40 mm | 1.57” (round model), 39.1 mm | 1.54” (square model)
Case Thickness: 10.5 mm | 0.41”
The collection features two styles, a square and round model which are both available in Oregon claro walnut or Eastern hardrock maple. The walnut has a more woody and ‘scratchy’ appearance while the maple looks smoother and features gentle grain patterns. Choosing either one is up to personal preference but I prefer the subtle nature of the maple.
Upon looking at the watch the first thought I had was that it looks completely different from any other wood watch I have ever seen before – and I’ve seen a lot! It reminds me of a sun dial, albeit an extremely simple one.
A piece of wood is bolted onto a stainless steel case with 4 screws. You will find 12 circular apertures which is the method Grovemade has chosen to tell us the time. Let’s explain the details below the dial as that’s where the magic happens.
Beneath lies an acrylic crystal that sits over a dial that glimpses through the wood holes. On this dial is an orange sphere that represents hours, and a white crescent that indicates minutes. As these flow across the dial, they make appearances through the 12 windows in order to indicate the time. It’s a clever design and a perfect showcase of analog time keeping.
Sure, reading the time may be a bit tricky but I’m sure if you’re interested in buying this, easy time keeping is probably not at the top of your priorities.
Without sounding too confusing, there is in effect two dials – one is the wooden maple or walnut piece, and the other is the dial underneath that houses the hands. The components below the wood top are put together in Japan and China and then final machining and finishes are completed at the Grovemade workshop in Portland.
In keeping up with the bare-bones approach, Grovemade have also made this watch with internal lugs. The band effortlessly attaches itself to the face but where this happens is not shown. The result is a seamless integration of wood and vegetable tanned leather. The tanning process does bump the price up a bit but it results in richer and warmer leather tones so I think it’s a worthwhile investment considering this watch relies so heavily on design.
As with the rest of the design, the leather band takes a simplistic, no-frills approach. There is no stitching – instead the band looks to be a long piece of leather that spins around the lug attachment and is glued together. There are 12 holes (I assume a design decision to match the 12 windows of the dial) to adjust the size so you should easily be able to get a comfortable fit.
As with so many watches that push the boundaries of design into unknown territory, you’ll either love it or hate it. If you’re a fan of the minimalist look, there is a lot to admire. Grovemade have succeeded in creating a watch based on the concept of wood, rather than mimicking plastic and metal counterparts.
Could I fault the watch for not using a Swiss movement? I don’t think so, since the hands are not really on full display, I don’t see why an investment needs to be made for something that really wouldn’t add any value. The design is the most important element rather than the clockwork (and Japanese Miyota quartz does the job without any hiccups).
Form elevates over function and the Grovemade watch is a fantastic example of taking a piece of material and turning it into a fashion accessory that keeps its fundamental elements. Grovemade have done a respectable job and this little piece of art can be picked up for $239. For $319, you can pick up the gold watch 01 which uses stainless steel that is coated with PVD 22 karat gold.