An upcoming product called The Duo will let you wear a traditional watch and the Apple Watch at the same time.
The company behind the product, watchmakers Original Grain, sent one over and I’ve been playing with it for the last week. So I decided to share my thoughts for those considering contributing to the crowd funding campaign launching today.
I love my Apple Watch. Even more so than I expected leading up to the device’s launch. But despite wearing it everyday since I received it in early May, I’m already starting to feel like I’m neglecting my mechanical/traditional watches that I bought to enjoy wearing and much prefer from a design/fashion standpoint, but now sit on a shelf each day I opt for my more feature-filled Apple Watch. After a few weeks, however, and with the novelty of the Apple Watch almost gone, It’s getting harder to keep ignoring my other watches, and that’s the reason Original Grain’s new DUO product is something I wanted to get my hands on.
The idea is simple. Original Grain aims to make high-quality, hand-crafted traditional watches and last year raised around $400k through Kickstarter to do so. The watches use a Japanese Miyota Precision Quartz Movement, but the real draw is the use of natural and reclaimed materials— American Oak Whiskey Barrels, Indian Rosewood, Maple, and Green Sandalwood— alongside stainless steel and more traditional watch components at an affordable price. Now it’s introducing a model that allows users to use an Apple Watch and a mechanical watch simultaneously to avoid having to make the decision I’ve been making each day. It’s accomplished it by creating a custom band that allows users to attach an Apple Watch face to the band opposite the company’s own watch face, allowing users to have the Apple Watch on their inner wrist while a passerby only sees the traditional Original Grain wristwatch on top.
The company has a new collection, The Barrel Collection, featuring six designs using different materials and a mix of hardwoods and stainless steel. I got to checkout the Rosewood and Chrome steel model (pictured above). Since the design of the watch from a fashion standpoint will depend a lot on your own style— personally I thought my model had a great wrist presence, but I’d probably lean more towards the maple wood and matte black steel model, which I think looks excellent— but there’s no denying the build quality of the watch is impressive considering a $250 retail price ($129 for a limited number of crowd funding backers). With the fit and finish, and small details like an embossed crown, quality clasps, and the wood inlays, the watch feels closer to a $500 – $1000 watch in your hand. I’ll let the various designs of the collection speak for themselves:
It’s definitely a large watch. With a 47mm face it’s on trend for men’s watches these days, but personally the face felt a bit big on my wrist after wearing the 42mm Apple Watch for weeks before doing this review. But Apple’s 42mm is actually closer in size to a 35mm traditional watch face due to the difference in how Apple measures the device compared to most watchmakers. While it’s on the large size for watch faces I’d normally prefer, it actually works well to hide the Apple Watch hiding underneath your wrist.
My Barrel DUO came with a 38mm Apple Watch attached, which feels like the right size for the product in order to have the Apple Watch blend in as part of the strap and clasp. The Apple Watch attaches to band using a custom clasp that hooks into the watch without any tools and still lets you take the band on and off without removing the Apple Watch. Here’s a look at how it attaches:
Two Watches In One:
I think the idea is something that will initially appeal to those in the same predicament as I am. Do I wear my Apple Watch today? Or that pricey, beautifully designed traditional watch? But what’s it like to actually wear two watches at once?
While the DUO is a bit on the heavy side compared to the stainless steel Apple Watch with Milanese Loop I’ve been wearing in recent weeks, it’s not anything that bothered me after an hour or two of getting used to the larger watch. It’s also not heavy compared to other watches with large faces like the 47mm diameter and 11mm case thickness of the Barrel collection. It’s at 150 Grams with the attached 38mm Apple Watch. Compare that to the 42mm steel link band Apple Watch at 125 grams, or other approx. 47mm traditional watches at around 120-200+ grams.
Actually using the Apple Watch with The DUO surprised me as well. I actually liked using the Apple Watch on my inner wrist maybe more so than on top. To me it feels more comfortable to expose the under side of my wrist compared to the way in which you have to raise and turn your wrist to activate the Apple Watch display normally. Some people have taken to wearing Apple Watch on their inner wrist for security, making it easier to discretely check alerts and keep the watch itself out of sight.
And I didn’t feel like a hipster weirdo wearing two watches at once. The Apple Watch mostly seems to disappear during normal use and most people that I’ve tested don’t even notice the Apple Watch until I point it out.
Should you buy one?
There are still many cases when I’d prefer one or the other. If I’m working out or being active, I’ll probably take my Apple Watch with Sport band for both comfort and fitness tracking features. If I’m going to a formal event, one of my pricey traditional watches will likely get a night out. But there are many cases when you might want to track your fitness or receive notifications throughout the day while still in situations when you’d like a more formal design like The Barrel DUO. So the decision will ultimately be how much you like the new collection from a design standpoint, and if it fills a need for your particularly lifestyle and Apple Watch use.
I’d like if Original Grain made a more sporty model, maybe with a slightly smaller watch face diameter. That might allow me to wear a product like The Duo in the majority of the situations described above. Better yet, make the product easy to swap out the traditional face too in order to use it with my other watches. That’s something Duo isn’t made to do and would require some DIYing. But The Duo is definitely an early look at what I expect will be many other similar products arriving from other companies that will aim for this market. We’ll have to see whether or not traditional watchmakers can attract some of these customers away from Apple Watch and products like The Duo by implementing more sensors into straps and mechanical watch designs, something they’ve already started doing in anticipation of the Apple Watch.
If you’re interested in checking out The Duo Barrell (or just a Barrel without The Duo strap), you can get more info through the crowd funding campaign. With The Duo strap, the Barrel collection will cost $169 for early backers and $269 at retail. The company plans to ship in October.
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