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Thread: MKII watches

  1. #1
    The counter has stopped MHe225's Avatar
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    MKII watches

    A side-comment plus picture in I-B's "I just bought a PAM"* thread prompted a series of questions and I decided to start a separate thread for the discussion of MKII watches instead of further contaminating I-B's original thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by I-B
    Ron,
    why is that sub-hommage so special? Don't tell me you had to break the piggybank for it?
    I tought you allready had enough watches from the funnylooking "W"-brand?
    Tell me more about these sub's?...
    Ben, quite often, the "puppies" in my office walk in for a "quick question". I often tell them that the questions indeed are (quick), but the answers mostly are not. Your questions are perfect examples of just that.

    Rather than me typing a lengthy reply, maybe even coloring the facts with my perception and enthusiasm for the MKII brand, why not let the man himself, Bill Yao, tell you what his company and brand is all about. Check the MKII website - there's a lot to read.

    As I mentioned, I currently have 3 MKII pieces and 2 more in the pipeline. These are extremely well built, Mr. Yao is a perfectionist and it shows. At first there was a small following, but the popularity of the brand is on the rise and so are the prices.

    MKII sold 100 very generous 1st Stage Plank Order Kingston's kits for $700. These lucky early adopters received the watch plus a full complement of spare parts including
    • Second bracelet as a spare
    • Gasket kit
    • Spare case body complete with crown, case tube, crystal and bezel (please note that this does not include a movement ring or second case back. These parts are available at no charge to you if you send your original parts back for exchange should you need to perform a repair)
    • Spare dial and handset (if there is more than one dial/hand set option available your spare set can be different from that installed on your watch.)

    The 2nd stage pre-order, also 100 units, was also $700 but did not include the Plank kit / spare parts; these could be purchased for an additional $200. Finally, 100 more pieces could be purchased during General Order at $875 with no option to purchase the spare parts kit. So 300 pieces in total.
    There were hick-ups and delays along the way and the huge number of possible configurations caused a bit of a (logistical) nightmare for Mr. Yao / MKII. The watches, however, were extremely well received and gained almost immediate cult-status. Prices have come down a little since, but original Plank-kits were resold for as much as $3,500

    The Kingston was followed by the Nassau - essentially same watch, but with fewer configurations to choose from and more "ordinary" hand- and dial options. Some small differences, like a smaller crown (7 mm vs. 8 mm on the Kingston). MKII received defective crowns (stems were too long / short, don't recall the details anymore) and Mr. Yao to build 25 Big Crown Nassau's, using left-overs / spares from the Kingston production run, to fill orders for returning Kingston owners. BC Nassau's are also much sought after and resell at substantially higher prices than regular ones (which resell for substantially more than the original purchase price of $895).

    People have discovered MKII as a solid investment and are jumping on the band-wagon, frustrating the loyal and true fans who sometimes end up empty-handed when ordering slots open (2x 25 slots filled both times in ca. 1 minute). But not everyone has the stomach for the long waits for these new projects, leading to heated discussions and sometimes even name-calling.

    Ah, I didn't even mention that early adopters are asked for input. It's not "Design by Committee" but Mr. Yao asks for input and solicits feedback. He does listen and has made changes, steered in different directions, etc.

    Hope this gives you all a glimpse in the world of MKII - there is much more: Mr. Yao didn't start as a watch-builder, he holds an MBA and worked in a large corporation. His hobby of modifying watches (mostly Seiko) grew out of control and he started doing that for a living, also selling parts to mod watches, etc. One thing led to another and he started building complete watches from scratch. A new micro-brand was born.


    * the actual title is a wee bit longer and also a wee bit different; I just summarized it with this new and more descriptive title

    Quote Originally Posted by wschofield3
    We need pictures please!
    so .........


    Last edited by MHe225; Feb 17, 2015 at 01:19 AM. Reason: added a few pics borrowed from the web
    IWL member 90

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  3. #2
    Member wschofield3's Avatar
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    We need pictures please!

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  5. #3
    Loves to yap about quartz I-B's Avatar
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    Great thread Ron, i never heard of the brand untill this point.

  6. #4
    Member Steppy's Avatar
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    Don't like the brand at all. Making watches on the backs of designs of others. Just not my thing. I much prefer brands to try an original design.

    Homage watches tend to split people on our forums - some like them, some don't. some aren't bothered.

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  8. #5

    MKII watches

    Quote Originally Posted by Steppy View Post
    Don't like the brand at all. Making watches on the backs of designs of others. Just not my thing. I much prefer brands to try an original design.

    Homage watches tend to split people on our forums - some like them, some don't. some aren't bothered.
    I can appreciate that he puts out a quality product, but most if not all of his watches are almost entirely based on the designs of others. I wish he would put all of that energy and attention to detail on new designs. Inspired by the original is great, but when I have to look for the brand name of logo on a watch to differentiate the two, then it is no longer inspired for me.

    (My apologies if this comes off as too harsh. I work in intellectual property so I sometimes take a very hard line approach when it comes to original design.)
    Last edited by FuzzyB; Feb 16, 2015 at 02:54 PM.

  9. #6
    Moderator - Central tribe125's Avatar
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    Bill Yao's watches are excellent, if you're prepared to pay and then wait for a considerable time.

    Good original designs are a rarity from any company, so I can easily accept the re-working of classic designs.

  10. #7
    Just to be evil:





    Sorry...

    I confess I prefer Timefactors' stuff as a rule.

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  12. #8
    The counter has stopped MHe225's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steppy
    Homage watches tend to split people on our forums - some like them, some don't. some aren't bothered.
    Quote Originally Posted by FuzzyB
    I work in intellectual property so I sometimes take a very hard line approach when it comes to original design.)
    Quote Originally Posted by tribe125
    Good original designs are a rarity from any company, so I can easily accept the re-working of classic designs.
    No surprises here - I'm not going to defend MKII or argue any of the opinions expressed here, because they are just that, opinions.

    It would be interesting, though, to have a discussion or debate on original design in the broadest sense:
    All 3-handers are copies of the very first one, no?
    Same can be said for 2-register chrono's.
    And 3-register chrono's.
    Adding a Helium Escape Valve to a diver (Doxa invention and patent .....),
    screw-down crowns, etc.
    And what about companies that take off the shelf movements, stick them in a case (of their own design) and sell those?

    MKII does indeed re-work classic designs (put very eloquently, Brian) - check the site and look for the iterations of the Project 300 case. How much easier would it have been for Mr. Yao to just take a caliper, measure the classic Seamaster 300 case and simply replicate it? Mr. Yao has reinvented the (almost lost) art of creating gilt dials, .... (sounds like I'm defending MKII after all).
    There are other small players / micro-brands operating similarly: TimeFactors reworks classics, Stowa does the same and adds some original designs, ....

    As a side-bar: it's funny how our government and insurance companies essentially promote this m.o. - where even straightforward copying is allowed- when it comes to healthcare: more often than not, there is a "penalty" for brand-name medications, whereas one gets fully reimbursed for generics ......

    Please take no offense and take this thread for what it is: answering I-B's question about a micro-brand he wasn't aware of and "educating the general public".

    PS - moderators, I'm trying to walk a very fine line here; please let me know if I overstepped and maybe need to edit / remove my post(s). Last thing I want is to cause controversy.
    IWL member 90

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  14. #9
    I made this comment elsewhere but there is a difference between those homage-watch makers that source materials that would otherwise be used in the counterfeit trade and those that create their materials from a blank page.

    That isn't a/ny comment on where I stand with regards to the design but more just that I see some merit in the methodology.

    Perhaps it's because I'm a bit of a scale modeller and I can kind-of see it as making a model except in 1:1 scale.

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  16. #10
    The counter has stopped MHe225's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drunken monkey
    Perhaps it's because I'm a bit of a scale modeller and I can kind-of see it as making a model except in 1:1 scale.
    Very interesting view; thanks for that.

    Forgot to mention: there are quite a few (happy) MKII owners who also own the original e.g. vintage Rolex and wouldn't dare wearing said vintage piece, but are very happy to have a modern, near identical watch that can be worn worry-free and can be used as original intended. No person would / does dive with a 40+ year old $50k+ Rolex, but MKII's are "taken down" (pun intended).

    Maybe I should leave it at this and let this thread run its course. As I wrote, I'm not planning on defending MKII and the likes, yet I seem to be doing just that in both follow-up posts. Let's see if I manage to keep quiet.

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