A few years ago, Texas legalized open carry. As the owner of a gun blog, I felt obliged to give it a go. I couldn’t have felt more conspicuous if I’d worn a chicken suit. And yet no one seemed to notice. Same deal with the Wilbur Watches 2020 Launch Edition. I fully expected WTFs from casual encounters. Nope. Different deal down at Casa De Montecristo. I think Tim put it best . . .
“It looks like an ankle bracelet for someone under house arrest.” Funny guy, Tim. Funny watch, this. Both funny ha-ha and funny peculiar. We’re talking about a timepiece that measures 44m X 46mm X 16mm and weighs 6.2 ounces, with a crown guard that looks like a carrying handle.
Saying the 2020 Launch Edition isn’t my usual jam is like saying I’m not a huge fan of the Pontiac Aztek.
That automotive analogy goes out to Jason Wilbur – the brand’s eponymous owner and former concept car designer. The 2020 Launch Edition reflects Mr. Wilbur’s bleeding edge design sensibility. If there’s such a thing as a “concept watch,” the 2020 Launch Edition is it.
That said, the 2020 Launch Edition is also a practical timepiece. The yellow and white indices on the “top deck” – just below the gently curved sapphire crystal – work perfectly.
The baseball jersey-size 3 and 9 indices threaten to overwhelm the white-tipped hands and yellow-tipped second hand, but don’t. The circular yellow-framed date window bisecting the 3 is easily read – and just as easily ignored.
More than that – or less according to some – the 2020 Launch Edition is powered by a “Custom Japanese Automatic Movement.”
That would be a Seiko NH35 retrofitted with a red branded rotor, modified to fit the “puck” that “floats” inside the case.
Before we unpack that controversial revelation – a $2495 watch powered by a movement found in Invicta watches? – let’s at least admit that the Japanese engine is a reliable timekeeper. [Barely] lashed to the Timegrapher, it performed well within the -20/+40 second per day specification.
For good or ill, the Wilbur Watches 2020 Launch Edition is not a luxury Swiss watch requiring expensive, often interminable dealer service and repair. And anyway . . .
“No one needs a traditional watch,” Jason Wilbur insists, acknowledging the technological temper of the times. “You can choose to wear a traditional watch to tell the time, but you don’t need it.”
If you ascribe to Wilbur’s operational philosophy, his 2020 Launch edition is what he says it is: wrist sculpture. Or, in a single word, art. So . . . is the Wilbur Watches 2020 Launch Edition good art or bad art?
There are those believe that question creates an invidious distinction. Art is meant to elicit an individual response. Whether or not you like Mr. Wilbur’s watch is your business and beside the point.
As long as the mondo-watch makes you feel something, especially a strong emotion, it’s a win. What I felt was intimidated. Intimidating? That too. What you feel is why we have a comments section. And a free market.
No doubt you formed your opinion of the watch from the first photo. I’ve stated mine. So I’ll just attempt to defuse the money controversy by drawing your attention to the fact that the Wilbur Watches 2020 Launch Edition is a beautifully hand crafted timepiece fashioned from high quality parts.
The 2020’s polished and brushed multi-finish nine-part modular steel case is literally flawless. The keyhole-shaped, seamlessly rendered lugs are immaculate. The caseback screws are misaligned, but that’s the only nit I can pick.
Everything else – from the tiny rubber tops covering the six case crews (standing slightly proud of the case) to the knurling on the crowns – reflects Jason Wilbur’s vision: watch as race car, with its central “chassis” components supported by various “sub-frame” structures.
On-wrist the 2020 Launch Edition has two distinct layers – and only two distinct layers. Off-wrist it’s a fully-three dimensional see-through timepiece, a watch that embodies Mr. Wilbur’s race car ethos. And a watch that literally and figuratively suspends time.
You could say that the Wilbur Watches’ on-again, off-again 3D effect is an aesthetic shortfall. Or you could say it’s a hidden delight. I’ll just say the 2020 Launch Edition works better as a piece of wall art – hung against a backlit white surface – than a watch. For me. And I’m not kidding.
Just as there are some people who could never-in-a-million-years open carry a firearm, there are watch enthusiasts who’ll never “get” the Wilbur Watches 2020 Launch Edition. And then there are those who do.
To paraphrase Edward Lewis, Pretty Woman’s whoremonger with a heart of gold, once someone notices the 2020 Launch Edition, their reaction is dramatic. They either love it or hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.
Model: Wilbur Watches 2020 Launch Edition
Case: 316L 9-Part Full Modular-frame stainless steel
Dimensions: 44m X 46mm X 16mm
Dial: Patent-pending “suspended” dial and movement structure
Crystal: front and rear sapphire, anti-reflective coating
Movement: Modified Seiko NH35, custom rotor
Functions: Time and date Function. Hands and Hour Indices.
Weight: 6.2 ounces
Water Resistance: 100m
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Design * * * *
Temporal sculpture that’s not for the faint of wrist. Best viewed backlit and off-wrist, but it’s got presence a plenty.
Legibility * * * * *
Surprisingly easy to read.
Comfort * * *
Heavy AF but not a horological hair shirt – thanks to a rubber strap that could double as a fan belt.
Overall * * *
Faultless craftsmanship in a bold design that’s NMT (Not My Thing). Doesn’t make enough of the “hockey puck” movement suspended in the case, but a fully realized statement piece nonetheless.
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Wilbur Watches loaned us the watch for review.
No further considerations were provided.