The way Bhavin Patel tells the story, his upcoming Kickstarter campaign for the Comet Chronograph was born when a 1940s Pierce Chronograph caught his eye on eBay. The quirky appearance instantly stood out to Patel – a vertical bi-compax setup with tachymeter and telemeter, along with conspicuously placed text that flies in the face of modern watch design standards.
Patel, a fan of vintage watch revivalist Dan Henry, saw potential for a myriad of combinations. The Detroit-based artist began designing a fantasy watch based on the Pierce and other similar chronograph designs from the 1940s and 50s. His Instagram account started filling up with interesting dial combinations he designed. It was the Intagram account that initially caught my eye – the color combinations were just so intriguing and there were dozens posted. With a new combination coming seemingly every other day.
To achieve the correct bicompax setup, Patel settled on the Miyota 6S11, a quartz chronograph movement featuring a sweeping chronograph seconds. To the uninitiated, the sweep looks like a low-beat automatic. Still, Patel braced for backlash from the mechanical purist community and has enthusiastically defended his choices in various online watch groups.
For the campaign, Patel settled on 10 dial combinations. The one we’ll be looking at today is silver with a green tachymeter area, and teal subdials.
Make no mistake, this watch is all about the dial. At 41.5mm, the timepiece wears large because of the absence of a bezel but becomes the perfect palette for Patel’s multi-colored vision. Beautiful retro fonts achieve their nostalgia-inducing function. While there’s a familiarity and sense of period achieved with aesthetics, the color combination adds a bit of pop art flair to the piece. It’s truly unlike anything currently on the market. (Note: a link to a newsletter signup showing all the color combinations will be found at the bottom of this review).
The Comet logo itself is very reminiscent of 50s logo art – fitting perfectly with the space-age era of design. Lume junkies should temper their excitement. The dial numerals are not lumed and the application on the hands could be described as weak but adequate. But this is not a sport watch requiring blazing luminosity. I would like to see the lume color match up a bit better with the numeral color. And using lume for those numerals would certainly be a plus. Patel says he’ll remain open to suggestions and ideas that may impact the campaign. So, there’s hope for the lume addicts yet.
The case is very fitting of the watch’s overall aesthetic with long, slim chronograph pushers that give a satisfying auto-like click. The midcase is finely brushed while the minimal bezel is polished. The lugs bend slightly toward the wrist, making for a comfortable fit despite a lug-to-lug size of 48.5. (My wrist is an average 7.25-inches in circumference). The caseback features a radial sunburst finish with engraved logo in the center. Specifics and serial numbers are engraved on the outer portion. The prototype does not feature a signed crown, but Patel said this is one of those details that may be considered during the campaign.
There are several details that watch nerds will inevitably get caught up on: The quartz movement, the absence of sapphire crystal, and the size of the watch versus the 36mm diameter of the original Pierce chronographs. Patel has already addressed some of these concerns in forum and group discussions. The size was chosen to make the dial appearance closer to the original design, the K1 mineral crystal was simply a cost-saving measure and one could argue that the original chronograph used either an acrylic or glass crystal. The cost savings allowed the use of a beautiful domed crystal – something that would have doubled cost for a sapphire lens.
Some people may pass on a watch like this because of the specs. And that would be a real shame. I’d like to propose a notion: This is not a typical watch enthusiast timepiece meant to break new horological ground. This is a fashion watch for watch enthusiasts. The watch is about achieving an uncompromising vintage aesthetic for a reasonable price. It allows for multiple color combinations with a reduced production cost.
The Comet Chronograph will launch on Kickstarter on Aug. 27 at 1 p.m. EST. You can see full specs and more photos at Comet’s newsletter landing page. Launch price will start at $199 and additional options are available. Check link for full pricing info.