First Look: Kuoe Royal Smith 90-006

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First Look: Kuoe Royal Smith 90-006

Post by TheJohnP »

*Full Disclosure* - The fine folks at Kuoe were generous enough to allow me to pick whichever version of the Royal Smith I wanted to review and I wasn't required to return the watch.


This is a "first look" for this particular model. I will provide a more in-depth review, which I'll post later on our review blog, http://wristwatchtalk.com/

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INTRODUCTION:

The origin of the KUOE brand and concept dates back to 2010. Uchimura, the designer and founder, was a university student studying language in London, England when he just so happened to enter a shop that was handling antique watches.

There was a line-up of hand-wound watches from the 1940s – ‘70s. He was instantly drawn to them and their ability to keep time even after the rich accumulation of history in the decades that had passed. Although the watches were antiques, they somehow felt warm and refreshing, and were naturally appealing to wear on the wrist.

There, in that shop, Uchimura found the strong appeal of classic design, and realized that something that is truly classic is loved and revered universally around the world and across generations. Deeply influenced by this experience, he was inspired to create a classic design watch brand of his own.

After graduating university, Uchimura began working for a watch company in Kyoto –a city steeped in Japanese tradition. For a few years, he gained experience in the business and learned more about watches until he was ready to launch a sub-brand which was dedicated to his idea of introducing the classic design he had seen in those antiques in London into new models of wristwatches.

In 2020, he was finally able to establish his own classic watch brand, KUOE.


PRODUCT OVERVIEW:

The Royal Smith is the premium series in the Kuoe collection. It is designed with a traditionally smaller 35 mm diameter case, Breguet style numerals, dauphin hands, and dial with a Japanese traditional paper "Washi" pattern. And unlike the Old Smith collections, the Royal Smith features a Miyota 9039 automatic movement.

The watch comes in a more sustainable paper box, with a manual, warranty card, microfiber cloth, and reusable drawstring pouch.

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SPECIFICS:

Kuoe Royal Smith 90-006, with tan strap

https://www.kuoe-en.com/royal-smith-90-006

Price is $468

- Movement: Miyota 9039
- Diameter: 35mm
- Lug to lug: 43mm
- Thickness: 10.5mm
- Lug width: 18mm
- Case : Stainless Steel 316L
- Crown: Screw down*
- Caseback: Exhibition
- Crystal: Domed mineral glass
- Strap: Italian Leather
- Water resistance: 100m/10 bar*

(*- NOTE: Have been informed by Kuoe that newer versions of the Royal Smith will only have a push/pull crown and 50m of water resistance.)

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

The thing that Kuoe nails down better than most is the vintage look/feel. Many brands release vintage inspired or heritage models, but the majority of them seem to fall short. Either the dimensions are wrong or modifications to the design are made to appeal to a more "modern" consumer. But Kuoe seems to be the kind of watch that's been sitting in your grandfather's drawer for decades. And that's a good thing.

Let's just go ahead and talk about the size - 35mm. This is probably the most contentious dimension for the brand and the hardest for some to get past in order to try one out. But 35mm is actually large in respect to vintage dimensions. And as you'll see later, wears well or larger than the sizing would imply. The stainless case, gold tone hands and indices, cream colored dial come together to provide a nostalgic feel on the wrist. The Bregeut styled numerals and dauphin hands are a splendid choice and they catch the light quite well.

The areas of improvement from a historical aspect - stainless case, exhibition caseback, screw down crown, 100m water resistance, and a premium Miyota movement, are all welcome additions.

Where Kuoe doesn't hit the mark is the use of a mineral crystal. Don't get me wrong. The look is fantastic, but mineral is simply the wrong choice. Kuoe does offer an upgrade to sapphire for an additional $138. Which admittedly is better, however that'll put the watch over $600. What I really wish is that they offered an acrylic option. Not only would it be more period accurate, but I imagine it could also help lower the initial cost a bit. This is one of the few times, I wish a brand would offer a downgrade option.

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ON THE WRIST:

And looks really good on the wrist. And even at 35mm, has a solid wrist presence.

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COMPARISON TEST:

As the 35mm diameter does tend to scare some folks off. Thought I'd take an opportunity to compare the Royal Smith with some other similarly sized watches from my collection.

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Royal Smith - 35mm
Smith's - 36mm

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Royal Smith - 35mm
Stowa - 37mm

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Royal Smith - 35mm
Vostok - 39mm

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Royal Smith - 35mm
Seiko SARB033 - 38mm

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Royal Smith - 35mm
Baltany - 36mm

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Royal Smith - 35mm
Timex - 34mm

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Re: First Look: Kuoe Royal Smith 90-006

Post by TheJohnP »

Just a quick update/correction.

Kuoe have let me know that newer versions of the Royal Smith will no longer have a screw down crown.
Instead, they will have a push/pull crown and thus only 50m of water resistance.
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Re: First Look: Kuoe Royal Smith 90-006

Post by MoT »

TheJohnP wrote: Tue Feb 21, 2023 8:43 am Just a quick update/correction.

Kuoe have let me know that newer versions of the Royal Smith will no longer have a screw down crown.
Instead, they will have a push/pull crown and thus only 50m of water resistance.
That seems like a step down. Is there a corresponding price reduction? I would assume a non-screw down case is cheaper to produce.
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