Time and time again various attempts have proven it is extremely difficult to launch a new, exciting new brand from scratch, regardless of the technical complexity or segment of the market is focussed on. The most challenging thing is perhaps creating a distinct enough product and reaching out to the right clientele at the right moment, in order to get some traction. Two young men from Delft, the Netherlands, are attempting to have a cracking start, one of which we know quite well already. We go hands-on with the surprisingly cool and accessible Delft Watch Works Oostpoort collection.
A watch is more than the sum of its parts. It’s not just a dial, hands, movement, case and strap. It is the combination of all of that, and more. What that ‘more’ exactly is, is hard to define. It is about evoking emotions, creating a soul in a watch, which is not something you can simply design and build. It takes careful consideration of what you put into a product, and perhaps more importantly not put into a product. That being said, getting to grips with the Oostpoort collection by young Dutch start-up brand Delft Watch Works has us ticking off quite a few of the aforementioned boxes.
Co-founders Twan Briels and Michiel Holthinrichs
But before we kick-off with the watch itself perhaps we should take a little time to introduce the men behind Delft Watch Works. The brand is launched by Twan Briels and Michiel Holthinrichs, with the latter needing no introduction for MONOCHROME readers. The men have met at the beginning of the studies in architecture at the Technical University in Delft, and have found a shared interest in watches. Of course, Michiel is known for his own brand, Holthinrichs Watches, which incorporates 3D printed case in either steel, gold or platinum, in the Ornament collection. Alongside the complex yet striking 3D printed cases Michiel offers various finishes and designs, including vast bespoke options.
The Eastern Gate, Delft (NL)
There is a distinct connection to the city of Delft, despite both men not originating from it, and that is in part due to both of them studying at the city’s university. As a tribute, they decided to name the watch Oostpoort, or Eastern Gate, after one of the most iconic historic buildings in Delft. Michiel also has his Holthinrichs Watches atelier in the historical part of the city centre, the place where Delft Watch Works watches are also assembled.
The Delft Watch Works Oostpoort
The Delft Watch Works Oostpoort collection, when compared to Holthinrichs Watches, is from a different league in watchmaking but to me no less interesting. It offers up a lot to get excited about, for instance, the case. I dare to state that there are very few watches that are designed from the ground up, and offer such a distinct look and feel, in the sub-1k market. And yes, one can argue some design elements are slightly inspired by other watches, but how is that a bad thing exactly?
The case for the Oostpoort collection measured 40mm in diameter, a decent size fit for almost every wrist. It features brushed and polished finishing on various surfaces, most noticeable on the concave section on the caseband. These sections are the most distinct design element of the Oostpoort case and set it apart from the vast majority available in this segment. It has a bit of a Moser-esque feeling to it, although the profile differs between the two.
Adding another design element to the case, there is a small ridge between the bezel and case with a small step in each lug. A small touch but again one to enhance the Oostpoort’s case. It also helps in servicing if the bezel is damaged and needs to be pulled off. It minimizes the risk of damaging either the bezel or case when being disassembled. The shape of the bezel follows the domed shape of the sapphire crystal and creates a soft profile. The simple yet effective crown at 3 o’clock is a screw-down one, with a laser-engraved Oostpoort logo. The caseback has another sapphire crystal, offering a full view of the movement with another laser-engraved ring surrounding the crystal with details on the watch.
Moving from case to dial, this is where the Oostpoort yet again offers quite a lot for your money. The dial is a three-part construction, loosely inspired by vintage watches like a Universal Geneva Polerouter. The dial has a circular brushed silver outer ring and black minute markers to start with. That hour ring is also fitted with applied, polished hour markers. A nice touch is that part of these hour markers float over the inner part of the dial and thus create depth in the dial. That inner dial is done in matte grey for our review watch but can also be ordered with a sunray brushed blue dial, hinting at Delft Blue pottery. A third option is the Oostpoort Transparent Date which has a blasted, transparent inner dial showing part of the movement underneath. This is the only version that is fitted with a date window at 04:30 o’clock. Centrally mounted, polished steel hands indicate the hours, minutes and seconds. Again though has been put into the proportions, and as a result, the hour hand hits the middle of the hour markers.
Powering the watch is the automatic STP 1-11 movement, which is essentially an ETA 2824 clone. Twan and Michiel decided to opt for a top-grade decorated movement which means Perlage on the plates and Côtes de Genève on the rotor. Two versions of the Oostpoort and thus of the STP 1-11 are available. For the Oostpoort Royal Blue and Radial Grey have a no-date movement as opposed to the Oostpoort Transparent Date. Other than that, the two are alike. The movement provides about 44 hours of power reserve, plenty to have it in rotation with others and keep it running, although I found it hard to put it down really.
Delft Watch Works also offers the chance to create a personalized version or small numbers for a special edition, in either an engraving on the rotor or even a unique colour for the dial. Their limited edition for the Dutch Watch Forum, for instance, has a red oxide dial with a choice of open or lume filled hands. The logo and HFLE signature are luminous too, and each of the 62 participants has their number laser-engraved in the rotor.
Availability & price
All in all, the Oostpoort by Delft Watch Works is a very solid watch, especially considering its sub-1000 euro price. It is a perfect entry into the world of watches for beginning enthusiasts but also wouldn’t stand out on the wrist of a more seasoned collector. It is very well constructed, offers some very pleasing features and design elements and simply put is pretty hard to beat in terms of bang-for-buck. Prices start from EUR 749.
Orders can be placed as of now. Personalization options are available upon request. For more information on the inaugural Oostpoort Collection, visit Delft Watch Works.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.