Celegin Draken vs. Hodinkee Collaboration

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Celegin Draken money shot

HoDinkee’s about to launch the UNIMATIC X HODINKEE. It will sell out in a femtosecond. And then hit eBay for a price premium. Baaaaaaa. Yeah, you heard me. Anyone who somehow manages to secure the UNI-HO should self-identify as a sheep. Someone who buys a watch that everyone wants to buy because everyone wants to buy it. It’s a horological circle jerk. In contrast, the Celegin Draken . . .

Breitling Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43

At first blush the Draken’s yet another pilot watch in a world of pilot watches. Take a closer look at the image at the top of this post.

In my considered opinion the Celegin Draken evokes the old joke about how Michelangelo made his David: he bought a block of marble and removed the bits that weren’t David.

Try and see what’s not wrong with the Celegin Draken. How its masterful minimalism puts the not-ugly but more-than-somewhat-overwrought Breitling Aviator 8 B01 Chronograph 43 to shame.

Notice the Celegin Draken’s subdial symmetry; both dials have three sets of numerals, identically placed. Check out the unobtrusive numerals on the right-sized ceramic bezel. The way the midnight blue/black bezel complements the strap. The contrast between the arrow-tipped second hand the syringe-style main hands. The balance between the top text and the Swedish fighter jet. Ah yes, the jet . . .

Celegin Draken and J35 Draken

The Dragon is a pilot watch with a timekeeping function (bicompax chronograph) with a clear salute to perhaps the most beautiful fighter aircraft ever: Swedish Saab J35 Draken. The starting point for the design comes from classic pilot watches from the 60s and 70s when the Dragon was active.

Aside from the image on the dial and the crown engraving, the Celegin Draken doesn’t evoke the jet that serves as its inspiration. But the chronograph is definitely in tune with lagom – the Swedish “not too little, not too much” mindset that informed the J35’s design and capabilities.

As you’d expect, given that Leonard Celegin is a Gothenburg-born designer (MSc from Chalmers University of Technology) turned business director.

Celegin Draken vs. UNIMATIC X HODINKEE

Unlike HoDinkee’s skinny jeans and latte corporate drones – who don’t deign to show you the Italian designed watch they’re pimping with a Japanese sports car – the Swedish watch guy’s motivated by “wanting to give the buyer the best possible experience, the one I’d like to have as a buyer myself.”

So no hovering over your keyboard at T-minus zero to try (and fail) to beat thousands of aspiring buyers desperate to get in on a UNI-HO. You want one of the first-run, 100-watch limited edition $500 Drakens? Drop Mr. Celegin an email (tid@celegin.se).

Celegin Drakon ST 1901 movement

Hang on, you say. Five bills? Yes, the Celegin Draken is made in China, running off a hand-wound ST 1901 movement, on full display behind a transparent caseback. And?

As much as I hate China’s human rights record, there’s nothing wrong – and a lot right – with Sea-Gull’s quality and quality control. I believe Lenny when he says he’s selling the 100-piece limited edition debut model at cost, to launch the brand amongst “influencers.”

Bottom line: Celegin is one of many independent watchmakers offering unique (if minimalist) products for a fair price that you can buy without engaging in an online bunfight.

Before you go chasing the latest thing – as determined by large, faceless organizations that treat you like a supplicant (i.e. dirt) – consider the advantages of following Fleetwood Mac’s advice and go your own way.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Did anyone else find the use of that Z car strange? To me, it came across as a choice made by non-car guys. “Hey we need an old school fast car, here’s one”. A plain Jane 240/60/80 Z. It’s not dramatic enough for the overall tone the commercial (I think) was trying to achieve. A Safari Z would have been better. Something modified to look a bit more… interesting. Maybe it’s a special edition Z from the 70s?

  2. The Ho with a dinkee, or hooker with a penis, can frig right off. Does anyone really think when they sell so many of the same watches they review that those reviews mean anything? well, probably, some people aren’t super critical thinkers. Same folks probably believe that Dr. Fauci holding major stock in vaccine manufaturers doesn’t cause a conflict of interest at all when he’s promoting them and encouraging even kids to get them, when kids are so rarely ever impacted by COVID. I wonder why?
    Maybe just as Fauci isn’t the best one to listen to when making the decision whether or not to get vaccinated for covid, also Hodinkee ought to maybe not be the place you read your reviews!

    In my trade (electrician) it is the same, the code book, which mandates every four years a new expensive and unnecessary style of breaker or wiring method, IS DESIGNED BY A COMMITTEE STAFFED BY REPS OF THE MANUFACTURERS! Seems like a common practise these days.

    • Design by committee while never the cutting edge of anything is far better than letting every egoist out there press on to make their own unique mistakes and then pleading that they didn’t realize the consequences of their actions. As the writer of this initial post wishes to politicize this discussion, answer the the following. Who would you chose to be the face of a government that frankly is in uncharted territory and accruing mistakes with wins.? My vote is for listening to those that have the education and experience behind them ( sort of like when I hire a licensed electrician to do the work I deem above my pay grade as a homeowner)

      Those electrical standards you speak of as coming from the manufacturers seeming as a plot to sell ever more expensive devices. Who would you expect the research and information to come from? perhaps a government that issues edicts based on their own testing and research and then issues standards to manufacturers to create new products? actually that’s kind of the way the auto industry works because over the years innovations in safety and emissions has not been driven by corporate innovation although the speed at which standards are adopted and applied belie the suspicion that the answers were always there in corporate lab but the drive to maximize shareholder value will always win. It’s in every corporate charter. If standards were not upgraded continually you might still be driving a car with substandard brakes, a none safety windshield, no signals – a collector car of the way things were, not the way they can be.

      So the takeaway :

      The evil Dr. Faucci ( sounds like a character in a 18th century opera) should not be taken seriously because others lacking medical degrees and rigorous scientific training know better. You do remember science – the stuff that came after the world got tired of being driven by superstition, ignorance and burning their old girlfriends as witches?

      When I hire my next tradesman, I should not be concerned that he/she has passed and certified rigorous testing in their field?The electrician that knows more than those that write national standards and codes, the plumber who is less than rigorous in compliance when installing a gas heater because he got years of experience and never bothered to update . The civil engineer who doesn’t think the full recommended time for curing concrete is just another way to extend out the job and raise costs. I would take them off my list. I don’t mind paying a bit more for the training acquired.

      Call me old fashioned, but there is a reason I and millions like me worked and studied hard to obtain advanced degrees in our fields, whether a doctor or ASE certified auto technician. In a complex world I will put my trust in those that have some supporting work in their chosen field to back up their statements and work which can be rejected as freely as accepted, as opposed to what seems to be growing ignorance of the mob in search of Darwin Awards.

      Ultimately, the great complaint of the 21st century comes from those that are being left behind usually because they feel they cannot meet the challenges of a complex world and changing attitudes. It’s has happened in every era on a global basis. Remember that guy who bragged he would never use email? Most did not have a great long term outcome. Complain all you want but if you want others to listen, before you fall off the bar stool, have an alternative plan. All views are welcome and needed

      • I can’t think of a time when hiring a self-taught “amateur provided anything but excellent service at a fantastic price, while credentialed “professionals” have proven to be expensive wastes of time numerous times over.
        I think it’s Suzuki who said ~”In the mind of a beginner, there are many ways, but in the eyes of the expert only one.” What’s that quip about science advancing one funeral at a time? It’s not funerals of patients or test subjects, but of ossified minds that reject challenged to the orthodoxy in which they are invested.
        Sorry, I’ll go with the individual egotist over the egotist that has a corrupt cartel backing him. The former stands a much chance of being honest and competent, or at least exposed if not.

  3. Ooh, I finally spotted a rendering, thanks to the band stitching. This is oddly tasteful. The blue jet is stealthy on the black dial. The 9&3 numerical indices are cleanly omitted, and the replacement lume dots don’t call attention to themselves till the lights go out. I’m undecided whether the three Swedish words on the dial (Dragon, Mechanical, Sweden) are part of the charm or sort of twee. The website https://celegin.se is in the native tongue too, so the national identity aspect is probably not just gimmick.

    • Thanks Oskar! The international name of the airplane is in fact Draken. For the choice of Swedish words on the dial (and back) – it’s a feature that some will appreciate, others won’t.The theme for all Celegin watches are connected to Swedish traditions in military, aviation and industry. See it this way: there are many other (almost all?) watches with English written, but no (to my knowledge) full in Swedish. 🙂

  4. There are a number of well designed watches using the ST-19 movement, but I can’t get myself to be into a Chinese movement.

    It is a bit of a unique situation because China bought the Venus 175 tooling and design from Venus, it’s not just a knock-off. And it is a great looking movement, the only thing that comes close for less than $10,000 is the Speedmaster Professional movement.

    There are nice chronographs from Hamilton and Tissot that can be had grey within a couple hundred of this price, interestingly enough based on another Venus movement, the 188, which Valjoux acquired along with Venus and evolved into the ETA/Valjoux 7750.

    • Appreciate your thoughts on the ST1901 and agree that it’s not a straightforward choice. For a new microbrand, there are few viable options. Entry level, it’s either the ST1901 or a mecaquartz. The SW500 series (Selitta’s equvalent of the Valjoux 7750) is a completely different ball game price-wise. What I like with the ST1901 is that it’s robust, proven and looks quite nice through a display caseback.

      • Appreciate the response. Agreed it is a great looking movement, even with some features like damaskeening (Tianjin stripes?) that is not the best and maybe stamped.

        Honestly the closest thing on the market, a classic architecture hand-wound column wheel chronograph movement made to 1960s standards, is the Omega Calibre 321
        Chronograph. And that is $14,100 if one can get it at retail. For someone that can afford the Omega it offers much better build quality, materials, and finishing and adjustment. But for someone that cannot the ST-19 gets damn close.

        On one hand a watch is optional, so I see it as a way to avoid China. On the other hand that optionality makes it the kind of thing for which China is best used.

        Reliance on China for components to and final assembly of smart phones, computers, and cars gives China a lot of global power and ability to threaten supply chains. US automotive production has been severely impacted by reliance on TSMC chips from Taiwan (part of China according to geopolitical expert and pathetic coward that was reminded who finances his films John Cena).

        The ability to make mechanical chronograph movements to 1960s standards, on the other hand, gives China exactly zero power or critical supply chain control.

        The point: What really matters is boycotting phones, computers, and vehicles that rely on China. Not mechanical watches. Unfortunately, good luck.

        • FYI I’ve been chasing contacts to tell me which high end Swiss brands use Chinese parts. Everyone in the biz is afraid of retaliation. Which makes me even more determined to put them. Truth.

          • I’m guessing that at Rolex and Swatch Group the cost savings are coming mostly from automation and robotics, but I’m sure there are some surprising to many people high end brands that don’t have the scale for that automation and are relying on China, especially for things like bracelets and cases.

          • That’s easy to say all use Chinese parts, but that’s only speculation unless specific parts in specific watches are named.

            There are a number of watch companies, especially the fashion and jewelry houses, that very likely leverage China, and on the other end there is Rolex, which would be idiotic to leverage China given its own scale, resources, reputational risk, IP risk, and pricing power.

            Definitely the watch companies that had supply chain issues when Covid shut down China, and well before there were any issues in Switzerland, are suspect.

  5. Let’s not do the Chinese thing, shall we?

    All the money that goes to China will eventually come back in form of oppression, random weird viruses, surveillance tech, and all the crap you see over there, funded largely by us.

    Why make watches part of this? Unlike iPhones we can buy watches without funding a global nightmare.

  6. Hmm, so in other words, China has become and continues to become more of a global economic and imperialistic power. Sound familiar?

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