A while ago, one of the founders of Revolo came to our head quarters in The Hague to talk about this new concept of customizing a watch. A few months later, Revolo made it happen and their on-line configurator is live. The proof is in the pudding. So we configured a watch ourselves and received it not much later.
Revolo is located in Amsterdam, and I am pretty sure that people who are visiting the building have no clue that behind the doors of this typical office space, are a handful of watchmakers working to fulfill the orders from their clients. Next to the room with the watchmakers is an even larger room, stocked with watch parts. Dials, cases, movements, hands, straps, boxes. Everything is categorized and super clean. During an introduction of Revolo by the owners, it becomes clear that it is not a microbrand. Instead, Revolo is able to come up with several models in their collection instead of just one model at once. And, also not very common for microbrands, is the fact that Revolo has their own distribution network. There are now 25 authorized dealers carrying Revolo watches (since Q4 2016), and the plan is to extent this to a 100 by the end of 2017.
All dealers have a sample collection of Revolo watches, to show their customers what the end result could look like. They also have a tablet at hand with the Revolo configurator, to help customers to build their own watch. Once done, the order goes to Amsterdam where the watch is being assembled and boxed. The completed watch then is being shipped to the authorized dealer. Or directly to the customer. Whatever he or she prefers.
Revolo watches can be customized using a wide variety of parameters. About 50% of the people who order directly via the website choose a mechanical movement. A slight majority of people who assemble their watch at a retailer, pick a quartz movement (60%). The mechanical movements that Revolo uses are made by Miyota and STP.
Revolo therefore can operate in a price bracket between 250 Euro and 800 Euro. This will go further up in the future, when more complicated movements will become available for customization.
Customize Your Watch
Let’s talk watches. That is what we are here for. I went on-line to the Revolo website and started to customize a watch. I wanted something simple, readable, on a leather strap and with a mechanical movement. Of course. On the Revolo website you will find some examples of customized watches that you can use as a starting point. But I basically started from scratch.
Below, you will see how I used the configurator and you will also find the impact of some of the choices in the price tag.
You start with the selection of your case. There are the classic round models, a bit more bulky divers cases and cushion models. I actually started with selecting a 41mm case, but later on in the process I noticed this doesn’t match with the bezel. The configurator automatically corrects this to a 43mm case. So I did one step back, and selected the 43mm classic diver case to start with. No black or rose gold PVD case for me, just stainless steel. As you can see, this starts with 250 Euro.
The next step is selecting a bezel of your choice. A fixed bezel would do the job for me, but a diver should have a uni-directional bezel in my opinion. So there we go. This is only available for the 43mm models, as written above. It also adds 25 Euro to the price.
Here you can spice up your rotating bezel by choosing the inlay of your choice. I am relatively boring, so I want a black bezel with a normal 60-minute scale. However, you can go all out and pick an orange or red bezel if you’d like. Or green.
Here is the interesting part for most and you can also see the immediate impact on the price. By selecting the Swiss Made STP movement, the price is corrected to 620 Euro. Other options are a Miyota movement or a quartz movement. I decided to go Swiss, and go for the ETA2824 equivalent by STP. STP stands for Swiss Technology Production and is part of the Fossil Group.
Now we are getting somewhere. The dial is the face of your watch and makes up for the generic impression of a watch in my opinion. I want a clean and no-nonsense dial for this watch. I picked the black dial with large Arabic numerals. It is a sandwich dial and has a date aperture at 3 o’clock. As you can see, all dials have a date aperture. Perhaps because the STP movement has a date feature, but I would not have mind to be able to pick a dial without a date aperture. The same black dial is also available with green numerals and stick markers, but I want to keep it white.
This was the most difficult part to be honest, picking the hands for this piece. I decided to go with the ‘broad arrow’ hands, as I felt leaf hands are too classy and straight hands a bit too ‘industrial’ looking for what I had in mind. The seconds hand need to be selected separately, and here you can play with the color. But I don’t do colors. So I picked all hands in silver. The seconds hand is the ’round’ version, not the ‘arrow’. Although that might have been perfect with the ‘broad arrow’ hands, I think this round model gives a nice contrast. But I have played with this back-and-forth and it took the most time to sort out.
After the hands, this was the second most tricky part: selecting the right crown. Some of the crowns were simply to modern for me. Others (like the Pilot crown) didn’t really fit the divers type of watch I had in mind. I selected the straight crown that looks a bit like a gear. As it is an automatic watch in the first place, the crown didn’t need to be that large (as it should be for hand-wound watches). However, a very small crown would also look a bit ridiculous on a 43mm watch. I also refrained from using a black or gold PVD crown, of course.
The straps all come with this quick-release system, so no tough time with screw-drivers or strap changing tools. No risk of damaging the inside of the lugs. Although this is a divers watch, I don’t dive nor take it into the water. So for me, a leather strap would be perfect. You can also pick a bracelet instead, but I didn’t. I liked the vintage look of this strap, with the beige stitching. It gives the watch a bit of a vintage Explorer style appearance. Which I like.
I am not a folding clasp type of guy, so that saves three buckles to choose from. The pre-Vendome style (Panerai) buckles are a bit too big I think for this type of watch, so I rather go with the more modest buckle. It is signed with the Revolo logo as you can see.
Here you will find four nice options for your watch. I thought it would be interesting to pick at least a transparent caseback. This way, you can see the STP movement. You can then pick the regular caseback, with some engravings about the watch but since I customized the watch myself anyway, I found this info to be a bit redundant. So why not have it engraved with a personal inscription. I chose to use ‘Revolo’ as well as my initials ‘RJB’ for this caseback. This actually enter these words in a later stadium. On this screen, you just select the caseback. A personalized caseback adds 25 Euro to the price.
Besides the caseback, you can also customize your watch’ packaging. You can go for the one with the Revolo logo on top, but you can also have an image or logo engraved on the case if you want. I select the latter and have the FW logo engraved (lasered). Again, the image needs to be sent after you finished the ordering process. That brings the total to 670 Euro. That is not bad for a mechanical self-winding watch with some customizations.
After I was done picking all the components, the website shows me a summary of what I’ve just ordered/customized. At one glance, you can see all the choices you made, some specifications and the total price. You can still go back and make some changes if you want.
The Revolo ‘RJB’ Watch
Not much later, I receive the personalized Revolo watch at my doorstep. A big box that contains another black cardboard box. Inside, a nice black box with the FW logo laser engraved. I had to take the box outside to take a decent picture, as other wise the metal polished plate would pick up too many reflections.
The black box with red lining contains the watch and the warranty card. The warranty card also gives some tips on servicing and how to handle your watch. There’s the unique number and date of purchase inside, as well as the statement that you will receive a two year warranty on the watch. The black box is quite nice and the steel hinges feel very solid.
The watch itself is beyond my expectations to be honest. The case looks nice and has polished and brushed surfaces. The brushed surfaces are a tad bit artificial, but I have seen worse on more expensive pieces. In this price range, it is more than fine. The black dial has this gloss finish and the silver colored hands give a nice contrast. The dial is perfectly readable. On the lower part of the dial it reads ‘custom made’. Not particularly something I would fancy, but it doesn’t bother me as well. The sandwich effect is nice and the hour markers and hands glow nicely in the dark.
The crown is signed with the Revolo logo and is easy to grasp. As you can see on the image below, the case band has a satin finish (but very lightly) and the facet on the lugs have this polished finish. The uni-directional bezel is easy to grasp and aligns perfectly.
The caseback has a crystal that allows you to look at the STP movement. The rotor has been customized for Revolo with a nice striped finish and the logo and engraving as well. As you can see (not very good, I admit), the caseback has been engraved with the name ‘Revolo’ and my initials ‘RJB’. The engraving is nicely done, the fact that you don’t see it that well on the image has more to do with my lack of photography skills than with the watch.
The strap is comfortable and looks nice. I do find them to be a bit ‘rough’, meaning that they are not super soft and they are not that refined. Which is fine, given the price tag in total. The quick-release system is a very nice feature and makes it easy for you to change the strap with another one. The strange thing is that I could not find the page on the Revolo website where I can order an extra strap. The buckle looks nice and has this brushed finish. I am happy I went for this ‘small’ buckle as it is already quite large.
Ordering a watch you’ve never seen before (as the model doesn’t exist) is a challenge. However, I was happily surprised with the result and you get a lot of bang for the 670 bucks. You can keep the price a bit lower if you drop some of the fancy stuff (like engraved box or personalized caseback), but for 670 Euro I received a watch that ticks a lot of boxes. You can play with the dials, hands, bezels as much as you want, until you find the right combination for you.
Is there a downside? Well, for some it might be an issue that it is not a well-known watch brand or a brand with a certain collection you can choose from. But that is the entire point of customizing your watch. To have something that’s different from what is out there.
Revolo also offers gift cards. A gift card from Revolo would make a nice present for someone who loves watches. You won’t buy the wrong watch for him or her, and it is still a gift from you to him (or her). One thing Revolo should add (rather sooner than later) to their website is the possibility to add a new strap or extra strap for your watch.
More information on the official website of Revolo Watches.