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Panda chronographs are an extremely striking type of style: a bright, white dial offset by two bold, black subdials like a pair of eyes staring back at you.

I certainly find them a pleasure to look at; and I know I’m not the only one. Yet, I don’t come across them too often. I’m happy, however, to have one in my hands for this review.

Leyden Watches, based in Leiden in Holland, launched the Velox on KickStarter in December 2016. Now, their operation is in full swing and the watches are on their way.

Costing €295 / ~£255 it seems like a pretty sweet deal for a racing themed chronograph. Let’s take a closer look to see if it really is worth it.

The specs

The case

The case is a completely brushed, standard barrel shape. The highly angled lugs keep a close profile to the wrist and therefore a good hug for a 42mm diameter timepiece.

The case is nicely machined, however I personally think it could do with a little more refinement; for instance the shoulders on the top of the lugs could be a little sharper. It seems to be a hard wearer though, which should stand the test of time.

The watch features a ceramic bezel insert, with really good toothed grip around the outer edge. The mechanism has a little bit of backwards plays but it has a smooth action and accurate positioning. There’s also a little bit of wiggle around 6 which you can feel when pushing on top of the bezel, which is a shame.

Sitting on top of the case is a sapphire crystal – tapping it reveals that it’s solid and thick, but I think it could do with better anti-reflective coating. However, for the price of the watch it does just fine.

I am a fan of the pump-style pushers – a charming automotive concept which runs throughout the watch.

The screw-in crown presents the Leyden twin keys logo engraved on the top. It features deep grip, allowing easy unscrewing and adjusting.

The screw-in caseback has the same logo as the crown engraved within the centre, alongside the brand and model names. It’s a very simple affair, which could do with some watch specifics surrounding the centrepiece.

The dial

As already mentioned, the dial is in the “panda” style – a white base offset by two black subdials. The left subdial is the 60 minute chronograph hand, and the right is the 24 hour indicator. Both subdials have an extremely subtle concentric circular pattern that you can only see up close – an indication of close attention to detail.

I think the omission of a date window is a good thing; it keeps the dial clean and symmetrical.

The pitched polished hands are polished in appearance, in a baton-like shape with a pointed tip. They’re well made and finished. The chronograph seconds hand is a slightly flared red stick.

The printing is clean and crisp throughout: the logo is in the centre of top half whilst “Velox”, “chronograph” and “200m / 660ft” can be found within the bottom half.

The lume is extremely poor – it barely charges and doesn’t show up in the dark. This is one of the major disappointments of the watch; let’s hope this gets improved.

The dial employs attractive applied triangular hour markers – they’re a similar colour to the dial so are rather discreet. I believe these would have been even better if only the lume was good enough.

There’s a black tachymeter on the rehaut which frames the white dial well.

The strap

The strap is made of genuine leather, with obvious sporty connotations thanks to the red highlights and carbon fibre style top.

It’s most definitely a stock strap that’s been slapped on the Leyden Velox – it has a plain, unsigned brushed tang buckle, and no printing on the underside. Of course, it’s a shame there no customisation on it – a stamp on the leather and an engraving on the tang buckle would have made a positive impact.

It’s nothing outstanding, but certainly acceptable enough quality to keep on the watch and not have to replace immediately. It fits well with the watch, is comfortable and does the job just fine.

The movement

The movement used is a popular one amongst microbrands – the mecha-quartz chronograph Seiko VK64. It can be found in the Tusenö First 42, Melbourne Watch Co Carlton and G. Gerlach Enigma.

It utilises the best of both quartz and mechanical worlds: the timekeeping is quartz as normal, and the chronograph is mechanical which is also powered by the battery. The key tell is the mechanical “sweep” of the chronograph seconds hand, which runs at 5 ticks per second.

The specs include: 3 year battery life, the usual good quartz accuracy of +/- 20 seconds per month, date indicator (although not used on the Carlton), 24 hour indicator (the subdial at 3), and of course, the chronograph function. The fact that it’s a Seiko movement means that it’s going to be a well-made, reliable movement.

Final comments

Well done to Leyden for firstly getting funded through KickStarter and fulfilling all their pledges. It’s also good that they’re now ready and willing to start spreading their wings a bit.

Whilst there’s some obvious flaws with the Velox (such as the terrible lume, bezel wiggle, aftermarket strap), I still think it’s a reasonable buy at the asking price.

There’s not many affordable racing themed chronograph available for cheaper (the closest alternative I can think of is the MHD chrono which is more expensive), and the Velox ticks all the right boxes in terms of specs: sapphire crystal, ceramic bezel insert, Seiko mecha-quartz movement.

It’s also quite the looker, so for €295 / ~£255 the Leyden Velox is a pretty tempting proposition.


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