What is the bare essence of a watch, the minimum required for a watch to actually be, well, a watch? Historically, timepieces went from being able to tell you the hour of the day during the day (sundials tend not to work at night), to the hour at any time, day or night, to the part of the hour, and so on to the modern chronograph that can split a second into parts far smaller than the reaction time it takes to push the button. So do we need sub dials to time events where our reaction times are the limiting factors? Do we need second hands? Do we even need a minute hand?
The Uno Automatic by Botta Design (http://www.botta-design.de/en/one-hand-watch-uno-automatic.html) answers that question with a resounding no. One hand, a beveled chapter ring with major ticks for the hour, and ticks of decreasing size for the half, fifteen and five minute marks, a clean font for the numbers, a date window and a clean logo: that is all that is on the dial. It is minimalist but still readable, probably as accurate for the user to tell the time as a watch without minute marks, maybe more so.
As an engineer, this has the look of any one of 100s of types of gauges that I may come across to monitor a piece of equipment. Speed, pressure, temperature, even time, these are all frequently measured by single hand dials, so this design is one I am used to reading. I think it also gives a unique look for someone who might glance at your wrist, a momentary question of how you would read such a dial. The long hour hand, breaking with tradition and stretching to the chapter ring, makes the lone hand look even less like an hour indicator. The way the strap is attached behind the watch with hidden lugs lends to the instrument feel of the watch, as if it were mounted to you arm, and not strapped around it.
Under the hood, the watch is powered by the ubiquitous ETA 2824-2 (there is also a quartz version, if you love the look and want to save some money). It is water resistant to 3 ATM, which lends to the watch being able to come in at 9.8mm tall in spite of the hidden lugs, and an modern, medium 42mm diameter. There is a sapphire crystal up front and another for the exhibition case back. For options on the watch, Botta offers a white and black dial in a brushed stainless case, or a black dial in a PVD case. All three come on black leather straps with contrasting stitching, with an option to purchase a black rubber strap. The stainless case is 740€, and the PVD adds another 50€ ($840 and $960 from the US distributor [http://www.rufuslin.com/german-made-watches-en/botta-en/uno-automatic.html], but ordering from the US allows one to deduct the 19% VAT, putting it about on par with the US distributor’s price.
Botta is not the only company making single hand watches, though they are fairly rare in the marketplace, and this design is my favorite. It seems like a number of versions are coming out of German watchmakers, which makes sense with the single hand design tracing its roots to the portable, spring driven clocks that originated in Nuremberg. Frankly, I really like this design, and should anyone be in the mood to gift me with the nearly $1,000 watch, I will be happy to provide contact information.
Matt Himmelstein – Contributing Writer
Engineer, weekend warrior and mechanical watch enthusiast. He prefers value oriented brands because, well, those are the ones he can afford while still paying for all his weekend warrior hobbies. New watch makers are also an interest because you can get often get a unique look, and the watch now comes with a story. His favorites in his small collection are a Christopher Ward altimeter style and an Anstead dive watch from a Kickstarter campaign.