Kudoke 2 Nocturne: A New Edition With Handcrafted Movement, Artistic Dial, And Sensational Value
Stefan Kudoke’s time has arrived. All the long years of learning, obsessing, wondering, and hard work are now paying off for the German watchmaker and engraver, whose gorgeous Kudoke 2 won the Petite Aiguille award for watches with a retail price between CHF 4,000 and 10,000 at 2019’s Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève.
The competition in this category is very hotly contested – think about all the Swiss finery you can get for CHF 10,000 – so the fact that a virtually unknown independent German watchmaker prevailed among the esteemed jury grouping still pleases me greatly. Despite all the great knowledge amassed in that room, very few people in it had ever heard of the soft-spoken Kudoke. Which means that this watch did a marvelous job of the heavy lifting on its own pure merit.
Today, after winning the much-deserved prize, Kudoke is better known than ever in watch circles. And that is one of the great services that the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève provides to the watch industry: bringing high-quality work to a broader consumer consciousness – even without a famous brand name.
Being an independent watchmaker means that one’s chances of becoming a famous brand name are one in a gazillion, but that’s not what’s important here – or important to Kudoke. What is important is the ingenuity, craftsmanship, and quality of his work. Kudoke loves his solitude, which stimulates his quick hands and original, offbeat imagination. And we who appreciate what he does agree wholeheartedly with this method of working.
A talented and imaginative creator of interesting timepieces, the AHCI candidate’s Kudoke 1 and 2 watches were extreme departures from his normal style. But the simple beauty and obvious quality of these two watches speak for themselves – and have spoken to a wider circle than usual over the course of the very successful past year.
Kudoke 2 Nocturne: just as enchanting
The front of the Kudoke 2 was captivating in its design and apparent simplicity, and Kudoke’s new 20-piece limited edition in a darker dial color is all that and more. Kudoke reports that the dark color changes dramatically between light grey and black/white depending on the ambient lighting conditions. The interplay of contrasts between the elements on this minimalist dial are truly outstanding.
The simple dial is striking in its simplicity and perfect proportions, which are so different from Kudoke’s chiefly skeletonized work up to this point. Usually, his designs are so uber-decorative that you must search for the time-telling hands. Here, that is definitively not so.
The galvanized, finely frosted silver dial encircled by a rhodium-plated, brushed-steel minute ring sets the stage perfectly for the elements that really grab the attention, starting with the eye-catching shapes of the polished 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 – yellow gold, black rhodium, and white rhodium – it is this artistic subdial that allows the full force of Kudoke’s creative personality in, though in a relatively restrained scope.
A gold-plated triangle points to the hour on the small 24-hour scale, while the half of the subdial with the engraved, yellow gold-plated sun announces the daytime hours. Likewise, the half of the subdial with the engraved white rhodium-plated moon announces the nighttime hours. This subdial revolves along with the time display, thereby always plainly depicting the correct half of the day.
The strict clarity of the minimalist dial combined with the surprisingly unique and decorative subdial filled with Kudoke’s personality are what makes this watch so appealing.
The Kudoke 2 is a true independent watchmaker enthusiast’s watch. The beauty of the minimalist dial and movement only enhance that impression.
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 the expense of realizing that idea can be the slippery slope toward endangering a small company.
Nonetheless, Kudoke took the chance, and the result – 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 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, which was in a warm yellow gold color achieved by plating in the 2019 version. The 2020 Nocturne limited edition, as a worshiper of the night, has a new look thanks to rhodium plating instead of yellow gold plating. But the rest of the movement remains the same – except for the engraving of the unusually shaped balance cock, which was rather ornate in the previous edition.
In the Nocturne edition, this engraving has been entirely pared back to emphasize the infinity symbol and the frosted finish as well as the strict hand chamfers and anglage. Achieving this well-defined look was no less work for the German artisan than the ornate scrolls of the 2019 edition, though this design is far less traditional (and therefore more unique).
All of the finishing on the movement is done manually, no machines involved. This includes, among other elements, the beveling and chamfering of the large, more than two-thirds plate (the two-thirds plate came in Glashütte history before the now-ubiquitous three-quarter plate), its grained surface texture, the beautifully tempered blue screws punctuating the silvery sea of mechanics, and the engraved balance cock.
The Kudoke 2 is priced at just €8,665 (without taxes), which, considering the work and quality involved, should lead to thoughts of sheer disbelief.
I know that line of thought because it occurred to me just ahead of Baselworld 2019, when I received the press release for the Kudoke 1 and its superb Kaliber 1 movement priced at just €6,996 (without taxes).
Here’s the magic trick behind the relatively affordable pricing: Kudoke was helped with the movement technology by the masters of understanding how to make an in-house movement while keeping costs down and quality high: Habring2.
But Habring2 is not involved with the finishing and decoration of this watch. That is pure Kudoke magic. The hand-finishing is superb, and the modified Habring2 movement reinforces the independent quality of the watch in all the right ways.
The price of this new 20-piece limited edition remains the same as the unlimited model with light-colored dial and yellow gold-plated movement.
In a world of mass-produced watches with perfect, machine-made components, this is a unique timepiece featuring distinct traces of handmade charm and artistic personality.
This timepiece in either of its iterations – night or day – is a real treat. One that would proudly rest alongside the most famous names in watchmaking in any collector’s box.
For more information, please visit www.kudoke.eu/HANDwerk-en.
Quick Facts Kudoke 2 Nocturne
Case: 39 x 10.7 mm, stainless steel
Movement: manually wound Kaliber 1-24H (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
Limitation: 20 pieces
Price: €8,665 (without taxes)
Availability: from October 2020