It has always been a bit of a dark horse. Instrmnt 01-B RG/B launched as one of three models in our original 01-Series back in 2014. The 01-A, with a classic tan leather strap and gunmetal casing took preference with most early buyers, while the 01-C with a simple black leather strap and silver casing was a hit with minimalists. The 01-B sat in the middle of the two with it’s venerable brown leather strap and modern rose gold casing.
But while it perhaps didn’t garner as much early attention as its counterparts, over the prevailing years it has ended up garnering support from critics at the likes of The New York Times, Dezeen, The Sunday Times, Wallpaper, and High Snobiety amongst other publications, and is consistently one of our top selling models. Most importantly though, it is probably the watch which sums up our ethos most clearly: subtle, androgynous and considered.
Today we’re going to put it in the spotlight: here is everything you need to know about our 01-B RG/B watch.
Firstly some stats: as standard, the 01-B features:
a Swiss made Ronda 585 3H movement
PVD coated steel casing
sapphire crystal glass
5 ATM water resistance for outdoor performance.
Functionality is as important as aesthetic to us, and - while we don’t suggest getting the leather strap wet in the shower or sea - the ATM rating makes it ideal for urban commuters or cyclists.
You also can’t forget the packaging. The core purpose of this timepiece is to offer interchangeability and the power of customisation for the user. The layout of Instrmnt 01 is maybe the most intriguing part – it comes unassembled, neatly arranged with the necessary tools and instructions so that each customer can build their own watch. It means that at a later date, customers have those tools and that knowledge to change a strap or update their watch should they wish.
Environmental degradation, overproduction in the fashion and design industry, and planned obsolescence are all systemic concerns that Instrmnt want to challenge, and the means by which we sell our product is a first step in addressing them.
The chocolate brown leather strap is one of our favourite colour options we have specified so far. It has been expertly manufactured in Germany by a workshop who have been making leather products for over 80 years. The family business has been passed through generations and we firmly believe they are one of the finest in Europe. Instrmnt are lucky to call this workshop a close partner, and that is a testament to the professionalism of our in-house product development team, and the workshop’s willingness to work with young companies who they see potential in.
As with every model in the 01-Series, the 01-B is based on our original functionalist concept of designing around proven, timeless technology: in this case a Swiss-made Ronda watch movement, as mentioned. The idea was to highlight the engineering quality and durability of the internal components by making the visual language as clean meaningful and unobtrusive as possible. It involved a process of designing in reverse, stripping the idea of a watch back to only its necessary components and building carefully from there.
The aesthetics of Instrmnt 01 are simple, elegant and unpretentious, drawing inspiration from industrial design movements seen in the mid-century. Paired with premium Swiss components, the main focus here is utilitarian function and quality. It is modern, but still channels a classic look that has been inspired partly by the world of men’s vintage watches. There is a hint of 1950’s Omega or Rolex dress watches in there, perhaps.
You will likely have noticed that no logos or overbearing brand marks are used on the dial of Instrmnt 01-B, only a few subtle cues that are now iconic of the brand. One of those is the ’00’ dial marking, which is a nod from the design team to the dials of industrial analog instruments such as ammeters and voltmeters, popular in laboratories and workshops during the mid century period.
Instrmnt’s broader inspiration ranges from modernism in architecture and art - the classic lines of Mies Van Der Rohe or geometry of Kazimir Malevich - to the revolutionary minimalism of Dieter Rams and Dietrich Lubs during their time at Braun, to the more mundane functionalism of industrial products designed only for the task in question. Modern brands that inspire us range from Vitsoe to Aesop, Acne Studios to Monocle Magazine. Not all of the modern brands who inspire us design products or offer services of exactly the same aesthetic or style, but all share a similar ethos of quality, considered design thinking, and building from the ground slowly.
How to wear the 01-B watch.
The sandblasted PVD coating on the steel casing - an abbreviation for Physical Vapour Deposition - gives us the silky, flat Rose Gold colour. When we say our watches are androgynous, we are usually thinking first and foremost about this colourway. It works well for both men or women: worn smartly to work or casually at the weekend. The brown and rose gold mix is really quite transitional, working between seasons and occasions and matching a variety of outfits and colours.
The casing features a thin chamfered edge where it meets the glass, allowing more space for a large clear dial. It means the dimensions of the casing are a relatively modest 40mm in diameter while still feeling expansive and uncluttered, and allows the watch to slip under a shirt cuff or jacket.
Dark brown leather complements the modern wardrobe, taking you all the way from winter to spring. If you style the 01-B with a sharp suit, the classic colour will enhance navy, charcoal or light grey for formal events or the office. Alternatively, wearing it with selvedge denim jeans and a an ecru sweatshirt works just as well. Whether your wardrobe narrative centres around a vintage Mackintosh raincoat or cycling sports luxe, the Instrmnt 01-B won’t fail you. With that in mind, it’s an accessory that syncs really nicely with our City Bike, a design collaboration with master bike builders Freddie Grubb (sadly that’s sold out now.. but you can read about it here
So that’s the 01-B: quietly assured within the 01-range. What followed was the K-Series (featuring a vegan rubber strap), and the T-Series (featuring textured leather straps). Each range has their own style, preferred features, and idiosyncrasies between models, but the 01-Series’ B seems to have managed to keep a low-key popularity amongst the widest range of customers. Quite the dark horse.
How to look after the strap on your 01-B.
The most important thing to communicate about leather watch straps is that they do need to be looked after, there are no two ways about it. A strap is the part of a watch that gets the most abuse: it’s a delicate piece of veg tanned leather that goes through a lot on a daily basis: getting stretched, knocked about, exposed to temperature changes, splashed when hands are washing, etc. The list goes on.
In an ideal world we would suggest purchasing a new strap every 9 to 12 months. If you are careful though, your strap should last for many years. Be careful not to expose it to or immerse it in water, and if you do, try to dry it out quickly. Using a specialist leather cream on a monthly basis will help to let the leather patina naturally and develop a rich out layer. Sun exposure is not recommended, but shouldn’t cause long term changes to the strap colour unless it is in the extreme. It is also important to remember that leather absorbs the sweat and dirt from your skin, so cleaning the straps every so often also mitigates any long term image from this.
Check out the Instrmnt 01-B right here.