#33. Kartel: Affordable, Minimalist Watches.

Up until my family trip to Mexico, around fourteen months ago, I had never worn a watch; no G-Shock, no Timex, not even those solid straps of sugar you slowly gnawed your way through as a kid, bead by bead, leaving a loose string and a diabetic dial on your wrist – I hated those. No, I was, oddly enough, never even slightly keen on watches. I’m going to attribute that to the sight of bulky metal straps and ugly digital timepieces that wrapped themselves around the people around me as I was growing up. That’s not to say that bulk and metal can’t be beautiful, I might add – *cough* Rolex, if you’re reading this, you make the cut – however, the lack of simplicity in watches, in my experience, is what really drove me away from them. I didn’t realise that a less pronounced timepiece, with a slim leather strap and uncluttered face, would contribute to my sense of style rather than obscure it. That was until I saw that Giorgio Milano watch, which, no doubt, you’ll have seen on my Instagram, in the window of a jewellery store in Mexico, which I was later gifted as a 20th birthday present by my parents. That gift opened up the world of watches to me, and now I can honestly say I was a fool not to appreciate the sugary beauty of those sweet strings. That, and I now actually find myself appreciating even those watches which I had abhorred as a kid. Again – Rolex, hit me up.

Anyways, having been gifted a stunning watch by the guys over at Kartel, up in Scotland, I thought I’d take the time to offer a little review on it. It was such a cool surprise, and I’m really grateful for their gesture. My blog is still in its infancy (yeah, you’ve got years of me left), and so, it’s always unexpected when a brand takes an interest in what I’m doing. So yeah, thank you Kartel for that, I appreciate it massively.

The watch I picked out was the Haig, in rose gold stainless-steel with a smoked graphite leather strap and faint dusty-grey dial. It caught my attention on the website because of the unusual strap and dial combination, and as I’m sure you are already aware from the biker jacket post, I adore grey leather. It arrived four days later, in a slim but robust blacked-out box the length of the watch, in-keeping with their timeless branding.

At first glance, I could tell that the watch would be lightweight and more wearable than my Giorgio Milano, which features a tougher and heavier leather strap. The Haig’s strap is soft genuine leather, but very much durable, and wrapped around my wrist with no resistance, unlike what you find with most new leather, which tends to take some wearing in. The back of the strap is a beautiful light caramel nubuck, with clean branded stitching. There was very little weight to the watch whatsoever, meaning that it can be worn all day (like I did yesterday) without it feeling cumbersome – in fact, after a while you forget it’s there, until you look down at your wrist and catch a glimpse of the subtle, sophisticated face.

Kartel manage to create minimalist magic, mingling timeless design with novel nuance; the warm and soft clouded-grey of the dial provides unique contrast with the darkened strap, unlike many minimalist watches, which tend to feature clear white or matte black dials. Of those more conventional timepieces, Kartel have a whole bunch to pick from, too. The large 40mm face feels smaller on the wrist than I’d expected, thanks, no doubt, to the sleek craftmanship of the casing and strap; it seems like the Haig would sit perfectly as a dressy day watch.

I’ll be styling it in some outfit shots this weekend (90% sure on that), so look out for those. However, I’ll just mention that this watch would, of course, pair well with a more monochrome look, sparing the greys and sticking to plain black and white staple pieces, with grey suede for the footwear or on a belt to compliment the watch. If you wanted to spice up the colour palette a little, the dark-grey of the strap would work with muted, mossy greens and deep wine or burgundy, which, in my head, looks like the perfect Christmas Day look. Don’t overdo the colour though; I’m thinking a mossy-green jumper over a plain white t-shirt, paired with black jeans and burgundy brogues, and accessorised with the Haig and a grey suede belt. As for formalwear, a medium-brown skinny suit, like this one by ASOS, would dress up the watch – just switch out the brown waistcoat for one that matches the strap.



I’m very much grateful for the generosity of Kartel, and for their interest, and so, hopefully this review will prove a reliable resource for any potential customers of theirs. Go check them out at www.kartel.co.uk. I saved price until the end because it is genuinely the best bit; what baffled me when pouring over their website was their pricing. At first sight you think, “these can’t be high-quality, or durable, or look as great as in the photos, when they cost less than £100”, but you would stand corrected. “You get what you pay for” tends to be a rule of thumb for most matters in life, but Kartel overdeliver and underprice. If you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas, or even to just treat yourself, their range is very affordable and equally charming.

I’d also like to say that I wasn’t asked to write this review by Kartel, nor asked to do anything at all, not that I would ever write a review I didn’t agree with. So yeah, go give them a quick browse. Hope you guys have enjoyed this post. Since we’re on the subject of watches, I thought I’d throw another clue out there for my first brand collaboration; they did extremely well with their Kickstarter campaign. Keep the guesses coming. And go add me on Snapchat for more details: @nikpxtxl. Cheers.


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