During the uncertain years of the global pandemic, many of us dreamed of getting back out into the world. And while we dreamed, Kenneth Lam of Arken Watch Co. was doing a little more than that. He put pen to paper and brought his vision to life. This resulted in the creation of the Arken brand and its debut timepiece, the Instrumentum, a 300m-rated titanium diver with an integrated bracelet and a stark, distinctive design. Today, we were introduced to the Arken Alterum. This sequel comes less than a year after the launch of that first watch and just so happens to be a perfect post-pandemic travel companion.

Rounding off the brand’s two-watch catalog nicely, this new offering builds on the form introduced by the debut model yet offers an entirely different concept. Instead of a diver, the Arken Alterum offers a dual-time-zone watch with a unique take on the classic GMT. The development of the movement used precedes Miyota’s introduction of the already popularized 9075 GMT movement. This caliber offers an affordable option for brands looking to create a flyer-style GMT watch. However, the creative minds behind Arken were already figuring out how to do something similar with the Miyota 9015. With the help of a clever module, the watch has a unique solution for tracking an additional time zone. And therefore, the Alterum achieves what was previously impossible at this price point.

The Arken Alterum

Though many microbrands succeed within the classical aesthetics of watches from the 20th century, Arken opts for the alternative. The brand’s watches have been refreshingly and unapologetically modern in their design. Some have pointed out that the bracelet on the Instrumentum was reminiscent of that found on Vacheron Constantin’s Overseas models. This new model, particularly the gray-dialed variant with the orange hand, might also remind you of a Vacheron — specifically, the Vacheron Constantin Overseas Everest Dual Time 41mm. Some might also say that there’s a bit of TAG Heuer Kirium sprinkled in there too. Overall, these modern yet organic lines remind me of those often found in 1990s watch design. Inspiration is an ever-present thing that we should not necessarily see as a fault, at least not when it’s within a tasteful threshold. I believe the value and originality offered by the Arken Alterum are more than enough to allow the watch to stand on its own.

The watch features a 40mm (38mm at the bezel) anti-scratch-coated titanium case. It stands 13mm tall and has a lug-to-lug of 46mm. These are perfectly wearable proportions in my book. The watch can be seen on both a tapered nylon strap and a bracelet in the pictures. However, it will only be delivered on the quick-release-equipped strap. Only those who supported the brand from the get-go and bought the Instrumentum will enjoy the interchangeability (for now). The gray and black dials feature orange and blue GMT hands, respectively. On both dials, you’ll find solid blocks of BGW9 Super-LumiNova. The gunmetal hands are also coated in the stuff. The screw-down case back, crown, and pusher provide water resistance to 200 meters. Inside, you’ll find the automatic ARK-9015DT movement. As I mentioned already, it is a modified Miyota 9015. Finally, an AR-coated (on its underside) sapphire crystal provides optimal legibility.

The two-timing touch

But how does the Arken Alterum track two time zones? Is it a flyer GMT, or is it a caller? I can hear your questions already. But luckily, I’m here to answer them. Let’s start with the latter, to which the answer is a simple “no.” It’s neither a caller nor a flyer. It’s somewhere between the two. And to explain this, I have to explain how the GMT function works. As you might imagine, to set the time, you use the crown. The pusher serves only to set the date. The crown controls both the main time display as well as the additional 12-hour hand. Two AM/PM (night/day) indicators assist the time-telling. The left indicator is for local time, and the right is home time. This severance of the date control to a dedicated pusher and the addition of the AM/PM indicators (as well as the additional 12-hour hand) are the clever modifications Arken has made.

How to use it when traveling

But how do you set it? Well, the crown advances the 12-hour hands for the local and home time together. But when you turn the crown counterclockwise, the home-time hand remains in place. So if, for example, you start with both hours hands synced and travel to a location six hours behind your home time zone (say, from Amsterdam to New York), you simply turn the local time display back while the GMT hand remains in place for home time.

However, let’s say you’re traveling east to a time zone just one hour ahead of your home time. In this case, if both hour hands start from the synced position, you’d set the local-hour hand backward 23 hours to show the correct offset. Then you can just use the pusher at 4 o’clock to adjust the date forward one day again, and you’re done!

Since both hour hands run on 12-hour time, the AM/PM indicators come in handy. For example, if the local time is 10:00 AM and home time is 10:00 PM, the left indicator would be white, and the right one would be black. This indicates that you’re looking at a 12-hour difference in time.

Final thoughts

Pre-orders for the Arken Alterum will go live on the 1st of July. The orders will be capped at 200 units per color. An early-bird price of £559.99 (about €651) will be available on launch day. After those initial 24 hours, the retail price of £599.99 (about €698) will apply. The brand has also announced two additional colorways, which will be made available only to members of the Arken Armory (those who originally purchased the Instrumentum). Delivery of the Alterum will take place no sooner than January 2024.

For more information, check out the Arken website, and sign up for the newsletter.

What do you think of the Arken Alterum? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Watch specifications

Grained black or gray dial with AM/PM indicators
Case Material
Titanium, anti-scratch coating
Case Dimensions
40mm × 13mm × 46mm
Sapphire, AR-coated underside
Case Back
Solid screw-down
ARK-9015DT automatic (modified Miyota 9015)
Water Resistance
Nylon strap with quick-release
Time, date, second time zone
£559.99 (early bird) / £599.99 (retail)