I almost entitled this article as an “Introducing” piece, but that would be a bit misleading, as the Mark Carson Ka La GMT has actually been available for some time – it’s just taken me awhile to get it bubbled up to where I had time to write about it. And, as long as I’m “fully disclosing” things, I’ll be up front and point out that the man behind Individual Design, Mark Carson, is also a team member over at aBlogtoWatch. That said, he did not even bring this one up with me to write about, it was just one that I ran across and was interested in. So, with that, let’s have a preview look at the Mark Carson Ka La GMT.
If you only know one thing about my watch preferences, it’s that I am a big fan of GMT and 24 hour complications. I tend to prefer these as an additional complication, rather than a 24-hour scale watch (as on this Ocean7), just for the simple fact that there really is not a learning curve in reading the display. Add in the fact that, while I tend to own traditionally-designed cases myself, I do like to see new designs coming around, then it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that the Mark Carson Ka La GMT.
If you recall from our prior Mark Carson / Individual Design review, Carson relies on a central disc to indicate some elements of the time. While the disc is certainly still here, the second hand extends out from it, and of course act as a ” design DNA” tying the watch to the brand, along with the case. Here, of course, it’s covering the connection point that the four hands make to the movement (in this case, an automatic ETA 2893-2). For me, the hands are a bit of a mixed bag. For instance, the minute hand is a perfect size, and instantly discernible. The hour hand, though definitely different (in being a large triangle), just feels too short – it needs to reach more to the hour track.
Then, let’s have a look at the seconds and the GMT hands. These both have very similar designs (small arrow heads) and you have to rely on which track it’s pointing at (either the GMT scale or the outer edge of the dial) to know which is which. In practice, the one that you see moving will also indicate which is which, but still. I think some more attention, in general, is needed for the handset shapes and sized. Though I feel like there are some issues to be addressed, I will point out that the hands are instantly visible against the dial, which has the minimum of printing on it. That combined with the white-on-black color scheme makes for a very crisp watch. So, even with those quibbles about the handsets, it should be eminently readable, day or night (courtesy of the SuperLuminova).
I also need to give Carson some kudos for getting a dark date wheel in there as well – and this one goes a step further. Along with the black background, the numerals are printed in blue. This picks up the blue in the outer track and the strap stitching, and it also makes sure you won’t mistake that numeral for the GMT indication, which is a nice touch. Topping all of this is of course a sapphire crystal which is set into the 43mm case. That size spec is a bit misleading, as the way the lugs are designed on the case definitely gives it a bigger visual presence from top to bottom (55mm from lug to lug).
In terms of wearability, I’ll have to defer to our prior Ka La review until such time as we have one of these in for review. For now, it’s fairly safe to assume that this will wear like the other Ka La watches, and the overall design keeps things quite readable. If you’re interested in picking up the designed-in-Hawaii Mark Carson Ka La GMT, you can get one directly from Individual Design at a starting price of $1,900 on a black rubber strap with deployant. Sure, that means we’re getting into entry-level luxury watch territory, but this is one rather unlike anything else you’re likely to have seen. markcarson.com
- Brand & Model: Mark Carson Ka La GMT
- Price: $1,900
- Who we think it might be for: You want your Swiss GMT movement housed in a design unlike what the “big brands” are producing
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Hard to say – I’d really need to see the handset in person
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: The handset (all but the minute hand) need some tweaking
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: It’s the first GMT watch I’ve seen that really gives the feel of a 24-hour watch while keeping the more familiar 12-hour format
Tech Specs from Mark Carson
- Dual Time Zone display via a 24 hour “GMT” hand.
- Unique high visibility design.
- Designed in Hawaii by Mark Carson
- Assembled in Hawaii by a WOSTEP trained watchmaker
- Unique serial number on each watch
- Swiss made ETA 2893-2 Dual Time/GMT movement
- Automatic winding
- Stop-seconds time setting (hacking)
- Date display
- Domed top Sapphire Crystal with anti-reflective coating
- 43 mm Stainless Steel (316L) case (55mm by 47mm overall)
- 12.5 mm thick case
- Exhibition Back with Sapphire Crystal
- 50 meters (165 feet) water resistance
- 1 year warranty – parts and labor