Watches are just expensive toys and jewelry nowadays. The cellular telephone does everything a watch can do! So they say. They’re wrong. For example, the SKMEI 1095 is an inexpensive toy with a fairly unique party trick – it’s a watch and a toy! Much more than meets the eye . . .
I learned this reading Hodinkee’s piece on a photo of 80’s era Madonna wearing a transforming robot watch. She was great in “STAR” – almost as great as her metallic Japanese Kronoform. Nowadays one can only get a plastic Chinese SKMEI. Plus a cleavage pic not used by the Clymer crew.
KMEI – a brand of Guangzhou SKMEI Watch Co., Ltd. – is known for loose lookalikes of mass market favorites. From F-91W clone to Mudmaster, they’re not afraid of derivative styling. I encourage you to visit their website, if only for the Engrish. Their corporate slogan: “Wish you beautiful every moment.”
The SKMEI 1095 comes packaged in nothing but an environmentally/cost-conscious cellophane sleeve. The instruction manual is one side of a half sheet of letter size paper. At least that’s how it came from the eBay seller. Authenticity and resale value are irrelevant, so this is fine.
The only two buttons are placed where the robot nipples would be. The rest of world has standardized function button placement on the left. Here it’s on the right. Makes sense! We read from left to right, so the order of operation follows this. Except not here.
A running gag in cheap digital watches: they allow you to set the seconds and date with no convenient way to see them again without risking setting loss. A single push on the right nipple – I mean button – leads to an alternating time and date display. No seconds ever show. After tiring of this, one must cycle through the entire setting process again to show the solid time.
As the (ahem) buttons stand proud of the watch, they’re frequently depressed accidentally. This is why everyone else puts pushers on the side, or recesses them on the front.
The size of the SKMEI 1095’s LCD screen – found on the robot belly a la Teletubbies – hints at the fact that telling time is a secondary concern. The screen’s tiny, maybe 12 characters per inch. (The diminutive Casio F-91W reads about 50 percent larger.) This watch is clearly meant for young eyes with undiminished focusing ability. And less distance from eyes to wrist.
The SKMEI 1095’s screen is recessed enough to limit viewing angles as well. Back light? The wearer is not expected to be up past dark, so no illumination for you. You can tell time well enough by day, better than one novelty watch I can name. Time to play with the toy!
The deployment system takes the form of opposed pushers, as seen on most watch bracelet clasps. It’s a bit awkward to reach underneath to eject the robot, but it prevented accidental discharges.
There’s little catch knob protruding from the robot’s back. Break that and wrist rides are over. ‘Til you set him free, it’s all that keeps him hangin’ on. Unsurprisingly, the captive robot has a little play, make that wiggle, in the holder.
The robot sits in some yoga pose with his/her/their/its legs spread eagle and his/her/their/its head facing backwards. It’ll fit with the face forward, non-Exorcist-style, but that gives the game away. Not that Ms. Ciccone or the manufacturer site seemed to care.
There are bitty robot hands that can be slid out from the back with a fingernail. They protrude a whopping 1/8″ or so. I’m pretty sure they’re spring-loaded, or were supposed to be . . .
I was on the next to last hole on the red resin band with my 6.5 inch wrist. Regular size adults might have problems with this. The fit, that is. Amazingly, there appear to be not only spring bars but
drilled lugs molded access holes. Lug width is a common 16mm: the band can be replaced. It posed no issues for me: the keeper even kept.
The outer case holder back lists the brand, model and battery size. Timex also stamps battery info on the back. Almost everyone else thinks it’s funny for the owner to open a dead watch just to find out what replacement cell they need. Ha ha, jerks. This glorified Happy Meal toy cares more about user serviceability and convenience than you do.
Two little screws on the back are a strong hint that water resistance is 0m/0 ATM/0 ft. Keeping the SKMEI 1095 on during hand washing felt reckless and daring. Mark your calendars; today’s the day I admitted that a watch’s water resistance is a cause for concern.
Disturbingly, I went through half a week wearing this bright blocky toy until someone finally mentioned it. I became an unwitting brand ambassador to someone who wanted deets on how to order an SKMEI 1095 for their grandchildren. Everyone else either thought I was deranged and/or wished to avoid a robot transformation demonstration.
Like robots who don’t go rogue, the SKMEI 1095 serves a purpose. Fun! It’s a fun watch at a fun price. Like most toys, it won’t get played with much. But I don’t think people really spend all that much time gazing through exhibition case-backs either. Know what I’m sayin’?
Case width: 55mm
Case width: 55mm
Case thickness: 15mm
Lug width: 16mm
Band: Polyurethane (?)
Buckle:Resin double buckle with prong
Weight: 35 grams (1.23 ounce)
Water Resistance: 0
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Design * * *
Unique and fun 80’s retro, as angular as a DeLorean DMC-12.
Legibility * *
Despite total misallocation of viewing space, it does the job with little fuss. That job is hours and minutes, maybe a flashing date, in a well lit area. Legibility’s not the point.
Comfort * * *
Surprisingly good for a Lego brick. Wear it loose and it bangs the back of the hand, of course. But comfort’s not the point.
Overall * * * *
Possibly the best not to mention only transforming robot watch on the market today. Cheap, cheery, chunky, funky and not total crap. Surprises and delights with non-disposable features.
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