Last year, I picked up an interesting watch from a micro-brand making a fair bit of noise. The Lytt Labs Inception Prodigy is another one of those fringe timepieces that could easily never have hit my radar. But having had a little bit of time to analyze the build-quality now seems like a good time to share it with you.

Square watches are a tough sell. Massive square watches? Even more so. Lytt Labs is a Singapore-based brand that already has several models based around the same case silhouette in the catalog. If you haven’t heard of the brand, don’t worry. I’ll break down the good and bad of the Inception Prodigy, which should provide you with a decent overview of the whole range. The dial designs differ, but the user experience is largely the same.


The elephant in the room

Let me quickly state the dimensions of this hulking eye-catcher. The diameter (along the horizontal axis) of the Lytt Labs Inception Prodigy is 45mm. That sounds big enough for a round watch, but with this futuristic cushion-edged square, it wears even larger. The corner to corner measurement is around 63.5mm. Yeah. That’s a fair amount of real estate…

With the elephant in the room firmly acknowledged, I will say this in all seriousness: It doesn’t feel as big as it is. Somehow (and I’m really not sure how) the watch feels very balanced on the wrist. There is no heavyweight buckle on the underside of the wrist to balance things out and no chunky bracelet to distribute the weight. I think its comfort on the wrist is a mixture of the faceted case back and the wide, extremely supple strap that keeps the watch locked in place.


A gummy, but not unpleasant rubber strap

The rubber strap and its proprietary buckle is probably my favorite aspect of the Lytt Labs Inception Prodigy. I can’t attest to the longevity of the material as I haven’t been too tough on this watch (yet), but it feels like the kind of rubber that will eventually go a bit shiny with months of use. Out of the box, however, it is really comfortable and looks smart as long as you keep it away from fluff and dust. It is an absolute lint magnet, but a quick wipe with a damp cloth cleans it in a pinch. The buckle is a very nicely engineered piece of style, and to double pin system looks pretty darn cool. Additionally, there are quite a few strap options with these watches and since all of the cases take the same fitting, you aren’t restricted by your model choice.


A dual-seconds display

Whoever went to bed dreaming of a dual-seconds display? I didn’t. I didn’t even know it was a thing. Clearly, however, someone at Lytt Labs did. And now we have a choice of reading the elapsed seconds in analog or digital formats.

The Inception Prodigy offers two bites of the cherry when it comes to tracking seconds. Both modes are displayed via the centrally-mounted disc that instantly grabs your gaze. You can either use this disc as a traditional hand and read the elapsed seconds via the red arrow pointing at the seconds track, or you can peer through a window in the disc just beneath the red arrow and read the number, which is printed beneath the disc on the dial.


Hollywood hero

Truthfully, it is more of an aesthetic addition that it is a functional benefit. While I was racking my brains for better justification, I did kind of come up with a slight design tweak that might be (marginally) more useful. If the window to the printed seconds were placed on the opposite side of the disc from the red pointer, you could theoretically start counting from zero twice per minute. Now that’s still not very useful for most people, but if you teamed a dual seconds disc of this style with something like a pulsometer or an asthmometer scale as used by doctors, it might add something to the watch.

Seriously, I can’t imagine a doctor wearing one of these (it certainly wouldn’t be allowed on the ward), but if you’ve ever been on a flight during which a fellow passenger suffers breathing difficulties, you might just wish that the medical professional Hollywood informs us will ALWAYS be sitting a couple of rows away from the distressed party was wearing such a device.


Build quality

But I digress. The dual-seconds display is what it is. It looks kind of cool, so objective achieved. The dial itself is actually very well done. The applied numerals are crisp and the brand logo (which looks a lot like Novak Djokovic’s personal brand) is a very serviceable 12 o’clock marker. The lume on the Lytt Labs Inception Prodigy is nice, and these pieces definitely come to life in the dark. I’m not sure it’s really a compliment to say that the best way to view this watch is in bad light conditions, but if you’re a lume nut like me, you’ll know what I mean.

Some people see blue AR as an entirely negative thing. I disagree.

The crystal is treated with a nice, blue anti-reflective coating, which adds a lot of character to the watch display from certain angles. Some people see blue AR as an entirely negative thing. I disagree. On the right model, I think it looks great. Here, it certainly adds something to the wearing experience.


The case and crown

The case back (decorated with a QR code, which can be used to register the watch) is nicely done. When it comes to the case and crown, however, my enthusiasm is somewhat cooled. You can see from the images that finish, although well-applied, reveals the kind of wobbly reflections you get from a cheaper build. This can be down to the quality of the steel used or, more likely, the quality of the tool heads used to machine it (and the speed at which the material is machined).

The relative quality of watches in this burgeoning sphere of our industry is vast.

These are the little things that matter for brands at this price point. You often hear fans of microbrands extolling the virtues of watches based entirely on price comparison. How can one micro cost €500 and another €2,500 for essentially the same thing? The truth is, the “same thing” begins and ends with the fact the object in question is a watch. The relative quality of watches in this burgeoning sphere of our industry is vast. Incredibly vast. It can not be underestimated. So next time you’re weighing up a decision between one micro or another, do your level best to get them both in your hands. There are things that can only be seen in real life. Press shots rarely tell the full story (deliberately, in some cases).


Shoot for the moon

My real gripe is with the black band that runs through the middle of the case. It looks like it is made of plastic. It is a nice aesthetic flourish, but the execution is lacking. These bands of color in cases can be cool, but they have to be done well. I’m frequently disappointed with their quality (not just with this brand but nearly all others). Getting it right begins and ends with the designers, who must be aware of manufacturing limitations and build the design accordingly. If you want to see a decent example of this being done well, check out the Bremont Wright Flyer. The rode gold-colored band on that watch works really well because it is far less dimensionally ambitious.

The moon is nowhere near any stars other than our own sun…

Simply put, it is better to keep things simple and do them well than to shoot for the moon and miss. The old adage says if you do that you’ll end up among the stars. Firstly, that’s highly unlikely, because the moon is nowhere near any stars other than our own sun, so you’re very likely to end up floating around in deep space with nothing but a long spacewalk and slow death to look forward to. Secondly, stars are not good things to get close to. They will incinerate you before “hello”. So in my professional opinion as a watchmaker and a would-be astronaut, this particular English language idiom needs to take a serious look at itself in the mirror.



That being said, you do get a lot of watch for your money with the Lytt Labs Inception Prodigy. It is a striking fashion accessory powered by the NH35. The brand should be applauded for making the display visually engaging. Doing so provides the microbrand community with something to chew over. And pieces like this are great for starting discussions. They are fun and different.

The main takeaways have centered on its presence and comfort…

Don’t buy this watch if you want a Rolex. But if you want to splash a few quid on something totally out there, because you care about starting conversations within your collectors’ community, it’s a good buy. I’ve taken this piece along to several RedBar meet-ups and let people try it on. The main takeaways have centered on its presence and comfort, and I know a few of the guys that saw mine in the metal went on to pick one up themselves as an arresting weekend watch that can be strapped on with no stress whatsoever.

The brand is taking pains to expand the appeal of its line-up by collaborating with artists and positioning itself as more of a lifestyle brand rather than a horological heavy-hitter on social media. That’s a smart move and may result in Lytt Labs winning a few more fans. To learn more about the brand and its other wares, check out the official website here.