German independent watchmaker Stefan Kudoke is known for his extravagant designs with intricate hand engraving and skeletonization. However, in 2019, Kudoke surprised many with a minimalist approach in his latest collection, the Handwerk, which includes the time-only Kudoke 1 and Kudoke 2, the latter of which has an additional day-and-night indicator.
Thanks to their restrained style and thoughtful executions, Kudoke’s best-known watches today are perhaps the Kudoke 1 and Kudoke 2. Now, after four years since the collection’s inception, Kudoke has unveiled the all-new Kudoke 3, featuring a double-layer dial that showcases a new fan-shaped hour display.
Although technically the simplest of the Handwerk collection with just hours and minutes, the Kudoke 3 is arguably the most attractive and unique in the line-up, thanks to the new time display.
The Kudoke 3’s centerpiece is its fan-shaped hour display, composed of triple scales and a three-armed hour hand. As the hand completes one circle every 12 hours, each arm passes through the fan-shaped scale once every four hours. The length of each arm corresponds to different scales, with the shortest for the innermost scale of two to five o’clock, and the longest for the outermost scale of 10 to two o’clock.
Interestingly, none of the scales starts with a logical number, such as one. For example, the innermost scale starts with a seemingly random number two. This arrangement gives the watch a quirkier look, but there is a reason for it — the positions of numerals on the outermost scale are identical to those on a standard watch, which is a delightful twist.
While the fan-shaped hour display may appear novel, its fundamental mechanics are identical to a typical hour hand. It also brings to mind the Daniel Roth tourbillon watches from the 1990s, which had triple-arm seconds display along with triple curved scales. However, what sets the Kudoke 3 apart is the execution. The watch is replete with premium details, such as the thick, solid plates for the hour scale, which add a tactile look. The double-layer dial with an opening enhances the visual depth, while the fan-shaped scale and curved opening also create a beautiful play on geometry, adding flairs to a straightforward, time-only watch.
In addition to the intriguing display, the Kudoke 3 has been revised in other minor details, such as the hands and chapter ring. The new hour hand’s arms have a pointed tip that resembles a fountain pen nib, a signature of independent watchmaker Vianney Halter, while the new minute hand features a counterweight in the shape of an infinity symbol, a trademark feature of the Handwerk collection. The chapter ring does away with Roman numerals, which have always appeared bulky against the thin ring, replacing them with dots of alternating sizes for a more harmonious look.
Inside the Kudoke 3 is the Kaliber 1, which was developed by Stefan Kudoke together with Austrian independent watchmaker Habring. The Kaliber 1 is used in the Kudoke 1, and it shares the same attractive features including a frosted plate and hand-engraved balance cock and nameplate, both of which are uncommon at this price range. And indeed, the Kudoke 3 has a compelling price that starts at €9,350 in steel.
The Handwerk collection is a testament to German watchmaker Stefan Kudoke’s ability to craft clever, simple designs. These watches adhere to classical formulas while also possessing unique details that set them apart, for example the large, engraved nameplate against a sparse frosted dial is an instantly recognizable feature. Designing a clean watch with personality is no easy feat, but Kudoke has succeeded in doing so, setting themselves apart as one of the greats in independent horology.
The Kudoke 3 is the most compelling proof of Kudoke’s mastery of simple yet clever design. Its innovative hour display adds a technical appeal, while the twin-layer dial with a curved opening lends an air of elegance. Despite sharing mechanics with the Kudoke 1, the Kudoke 3 stands out due to its clever design. It is fascinating to see how Kudoke has taken a basic concept and transformed it into an interesting timepiece.
Movement: Kaliber 1; manual wind; 46 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours and minutes
Case: 39 x 10.3 mm; steel or 18k rose gold; water resistant to 50 m
Strap: Leather or Alcantara strap
Price: €9,350 (excluding taxes)