OhGizmo Review: Nooka Zen-H

By David Ponce

Being able to tell the time like a regular person is very 20th century. Simply looking at your watch and instantly registering the hours and minutes is boring. At least that’s what you’d think considering the recent onslaught of stylish timepieces with cryptic displays, like the stuff from Tokyoflash.

Well, there’s another funky watchmaker in town (they’ve been around for a while, but you know). The name is Nooka, and they make a line of elegant, sophisticated and simply stunning watches. Their stuff is so cleanly designed and beautifully crafted that they’re being sold at the MoMA store. And just recently the company announced a set of new models, including the ZEN and ZOT series.

I received a ZEN-H for review a couple of weeks ago. They decided, for some reason, to send me a white model that, while quite striking, would unfortunately not see the light of day on my wrist. Fortunately for me, I’m still on good terms with my ex-girlfriend and I didn’t need to try too hard to convince her to wear it for a while.

The verdict? Well, if you’re a respectable gentleman (or gentlelady) turned off by the flashy, slightly PIMPy good looks of the Tokyoflash watches yet are still in the market for something different, something that will start conversations, then this is the watch for you. It doesn’t pack as much “oomph” as some others, but for the right crowd, (e.g. the geek chic CEO) this is a good thing. Come inside for all the details.

Out here, you get the link to Nookawatches.

The first thing that gets your attention, of course, is the packaging. Unlike traditional watchmakers who send their stuff in nice boxes, Nooka chose a simple black, rectangular “envelope” made from what looks like the same material used in scuba suits. This allows them to ship the watch flat, which is supposed to be a good thing as their bracelets are made from quality Italian Leather and would otherwise adopt the shape of the round holder. In practice however, this turned out to be a bit of a problem, at least for me.

See, the thing about leather is that when it’s new, it’s stiff. You have to break it in. So the watch would have a tendency to not mold itself to my wrist unless I strapped it really tight, which I dislike doing. On the tiny wrist of my test model, this effect was even more pronounced. It wasn’t a big deal, though. A few minutes of vigorous massaging fixed it.

The watch itself reeks of quality craftsmanship. The back plate is held in place with four tiny screws. The faceplate is flat and is flush with the casing. The buttons, on the sides, do not protrude excessively and are just the right size. It is about a quarter of an inch thick, which is actually perfect. It’s just big enough to convey a nice solid feel, yet not so thick that it gets in the way of things.

A big selling point with these watches is that they merge artistry with craftsmanship. And sure, to a point, all good watches do this. But Matthew Waldman is particularly skillful at striking the right balance between the different elements displayed on the faceplate. The lines chosen and the way they interact is very pleasing to the eye (at least to my eyes) and the unique way of telling the time make the watch modern, simple and clean.

Time is told as follows. The two top rows represent the hours. First row: 1 to 6 and second row 7 to 12. Then, the third row shows the minutes and finally, the fourth, the seconds.

The minute lines are a bit too small to count effectively. You’re meant to be able to tell the time by seeing what proportion of 60 minutes has elapsed. For example, if you see that the minute column is about two thirds full, you know it’s about 40 minutes passed the hour. If you have to be exact, you can look closer and count. There are markers at every 15 minutes (and submarkers at every 5), so you’re not totally in the dark in that respect.

There’s a backlighting function which allows to read it in the dark. And it looks very purdy in the dark, too.

There’s also an alarm feature, which is good. Only problem is… it’s a pipsqueak. You’d have to be one hell of a light sleeper for this to wake you up. Perhaps its intended use is in reminding you of things, like appointments, or when the parking meter is due. In any case, it’s nice that the feature is there, but a little more volume wouldn’t have hurt.

Other features include the date, and a chronograph.

All in all though, it’s a really great watch. And at $250, it’s not entirely unreasonable. Get them here

Pros: Amazing good looks. Time is displayed in innovative way. Will start conversations.

Cons: Leather strap a little too stiff, but this is normal for leather straps. Alarm is too low.

3 thoughts on “OhGizmo Review: Nooka Zen-H”

  1. I just dropped my new Nooka watch because the band broke. The band broke and fell off my arm, about a 5 feet drop. The watch ceased to work after that. What a F#CKING waste of $260. Unless you just plan to look at this watch, don’t waste your money, it has the durability of paper plane. I am a digital watch collector and I have never come across such a fragile good looking rip off.

  2. got the Nooka Unisex Zub Zan white one, super cool while brand new, but the strap got dirty very quickly and that polyurethane rubber is impossible to clean. Now after just 6 months the strap look dirty and ugly. I don’t recommend to by light colors. It’s a waste of money.

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