Kudoke 2 By Stefan Kudoke: Handcrafted Movement, Artistic Dial, Sensational Value
Watchmaker and engraver Stefan Kudoke lives and works in eastern Germany, relatively far from the next biggest watch centers Dresden and Glashütte, but not so far that he couldn’t collaborate with suppliers and other artisans if he so desired. Kudoke loves his solitude, which stimulates his quick hands and original, offbeat imagination.
A talented and imaginative creator of interesting timepieces, in Kudoke’s early days of watchmaking, the AHCI candidate was apprenticed to two very experienced watchmakers and completed his watchmaker education singled out as the best in Brandenburg, earning him a scholarship from Germany’s national gifted support program. And that despite having found his watchmaking vocation with no family background in it.
Kudoke refined his skills in the complication and prototype workshop of Glashütte Original. After earning his master certification at the age of 22, he completed a university economics program to later dedicate himself to his own little company. A stint in the Swatch Group prestige brand service department in New York completed his comprehensive education.
Kudoke is also a self-taught skeletonizer and engraver.
Stefan Kudoke’s watch concept
Individuality is Kudoke’s uppermost maxim, which is why he does not usually create serial watches as such, but chiefly unique pieces.
His “serial” models are in actuality timepieces that serve as a base for customers to personalize; prospective clients are freely encouraged to realize their own special wishes.
Each of Kudoke’s timepieces mirrors the uniqueness of its owners and can well be seen as a representation of their respective personalities.
Past timepieces that have landed on the radar of watch lovers looking for something special include the Real Skeleton, the KudOktopus, and the KudOkTourbi. The artful appearances of these unique timepieces were sculpted out of ETA Unitas 6497 movements, a large-scale-produced pocket watch caliber that engravers adore because of its expansive bridges.
Kudoke Kaliber 1
The idea of using a movement exclusive to Kudoke or even developed by him was attractive. As it is to most watchmakers. But it is realizing that idea that can be a slippery slope toward endangering a small company.
Nonetheless, Kudoke took the chance, and the result – his Kaliber 1– is worth any sleepless nights he may have experienced along the way.
Kaliber 1 was conceived to power Kudoke’s HANDwerk collection, a line that finds inspiration in the vintage production of Glashütte- or Dresden-based old masters, whose work shares similarity with some of the old English masters. We can also find homages to this type of movement for example in Tutima’s Patria line and Hommage minute repeater.
What first hits the eye and takes the breath away – at least it did for me – is the extraordinary finishing of the movement done predominately in a warm yellow gold color achieved by plating. And all of the finishing steps are done manually, no machines involved. This includes the beveling and chamfering of the large two-thirds plate (the two-thirds plate came in Glashütte’s history before the now-ubiquitous three-quarter plate), its grained surface texture, and of course the engraving of the balance cock among other elements.
If you have already scrolled to the bottom of the article and looked at the pricing of the Kudoke 2, or if you’ve already googled and found that the other piece in this new line, the Kudoke 1, comes in at €6,303 (without taxes), you may be asking yourself how in the world that price point is possible. Which might lead to thoughts of sheer disbelief.
Those are the thoughts that I had when I received the press release for these two watches and their unbelievable Kaliber 1 movement base just ahead of Baselworld 2019.
Here’s how the pricing wizardry is accomplished: Kudoke was helped with the movement technology by the masters of understanding how to make an in-house movement while keeping the costs down and quality high. You may not be surprised to learn that Habring2 is involved.
But Habring2 is in no way involved with the finishing and decoration of this watch. That is pure Kudoke magic.
Kudoke 2: front or back, which is more magical?
That question is a tough one to answer. I love mechanics, so beautifully finished movements will generally capture my attention more than a dial if visible.
However, the front of this watch is also so captivating in its design and seeming simplicity that it gives Kaliber 1 a run for its money in the attention-grabbing department.
The clean dial is striking in its simplicity and perfect proportions, which are so different from Kudoke’s work up to this point. Generally, his designs are so uber-decorative that you must search for the time-telling hands. Here, that is definitively not the case.
The white-colored finely frosted silver dial encircled by a brushed steel minute ring sets the stage perfectly for the elements that grab the attention, starting with the blued steel hands. The hour hand perhaps even more so with its stylized infinity symbol – a symbol also engraved into the balance cock visible on the flip side of the watch.
But the dial’s star is undoubtedly what Kudoke calls the “sky disk” positioned at 12 o’clock. Hand-engraved and electroplated in three colors, it is this artistic subdial that allows the full force of Kudoke’s personality in, though arriving in a relatively restrained scope as the case may be.
A gold-plated triangle points to the hour on the small 24-hour scale, while the half of the subdial with the engraved sun (yellow gold plated) announces the daytime hours. Likewise, the half of the subdial with the engraved moon (white gold plated) announces the nighttime hours. This subdial revolves along with the time display, thereby always plainly depicting the correct half of the day.
The clarity of the minimalist dial combined with the surprisingly unique subdial filled with Kudoke’s personality makes this watch extremely appealing.
But when you turn it over and see the gorgeous movement through the sapphire crystal, it’s all over: you’ve fallen in love.
For more information, please visit www.kudoke.eu.
Quick Facts Kudoke 2 by Stefan Kudoke
Case: 39 x 10.7 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manually wound Kaliber 1 (Habring2 A11B base), 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 46-hour power reserve, amagnetic escapement with Carl Haas balance spring
Functions: hour, minute; day/night indication, 24-hour indication
Price: €7,807 / $8,870 / CHF 9,670 (all prices without VAT)