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Trying to describe the design of the Botta CLAVIUS Automatic to someone is like trying to explain in words how to tie shoelaces – almost impossible. Visually, Klaus Botta’s black watch outshines anything you’ve ever seen before. What is behind the hands, of which you can just see the tip?
The reinvention of the wheel?
Actually, you could assume, designers of this world must have put every conceivable look on paper by now. But I would never have thought that the wheel would be reinvented after centuries. The brains behind the unusual design of my test watch today is once again Klaus Botta. The industrial designer invented the single-hand watch back in 1986 and made a name for himself with it. In addition to the UNO, the product range of the company from Taunus, Germany includes various models, intelligently divided into so-called time concepts. A few weeks ago, I was allowed to get my own impression of the quality that is displayed in the house of Botta and test the Botta MONDO GMT Automatic.
I liked the unconventional and functional world time watch a lot. But compared to today’s test model, the MONDO GMT can almost be called ordinary…
The mystery behind the CLAVIUS
The Botta CLAVIUS Automatic leaves me amazed and perplexed at the same time. A black watch reduced to the bare essentials, its dial lacks typical features like hands or even a proper center. At first glance, I couldn’t even have been more specific about what the Botta CLAVIUS Automatic is: analog or digital? A line appears every second and then disappears again. It circles the dial and represents the central seconds. Two green hand tips slowly circle around the center of the watch, minute and hour. You can’t get much more information from the dial either. Botta CLAVIUS Automatic is a minimalist and therefore radical watch that stands out.
Nevertheless, the signature of designer Klaus Botta is recognizable. Somewhere the silhouette of the CLAVIUS resembles that of the MONDO GMT. A large diameter, good readability, low height and many selectable straps characterize both models. In the further course, it will be interesting to see which similarities and differences the two watches have.
To solve the mystery right away: behind the mysterious dial is neither a hidden LED display, nor a revolutionary display technology, but an actually quite simple trick, which, however, achieves great effect. But more about that later.
Visually, the Botta CLAVIUS Automatic is very promising. It also feels valuable, as far as you can judge at first glance.
The Botta CLAVIUS Automatic on the Wrist
But first, I would like to get an idea of the wearing comfort and check how the Botta CLAVIUS Automatic performs in use on the wrist. After putting it on, I immediately get to enjoy the amenities that are typical for Botta. Let’s start with the luxurious feel. In my opinion, this is even better than that of the MONDO GMT. The reason for this is the very unconventionally shaped caseback. The CLAVIUS also looks different from the competition on the back. Flanks run from the flat center to the edge of the case, which are beveled. They prevent the watch from pressing uncomfortably against the skin in everyday use. As a result, you hardly notice that you’re wearing the watch.
44 millimeters is the diameter of the case. This may look a bit large if the circumference of the wrist is smaller. Due to the low height of only 9.3 millimeters, the Botta CLAVIUS remains sporty and flat. The value is remarkable considering the automatic movement including the rotor.
The same applies to the weight. At just 75 grams, the CLAVIUS remains pleasantly light. This also contributes to the first-class wearing comfort.
The case of the Botta CLAVIUS Automatic
In the watch review of the Botta MONDO GMT, I had praised the choice of materials. The world time watch uses the high-tech material titanium. Titanium has some decisive advantages over stainless steel. It is even harder, more flexible and lighter. The fact that the CLAVIUS is made of stainless steel instead dampens the euphoria somewhat. Of course, titanium would have been the crowning glory. To be fair, though, it has to be said that the Clavius is a whopping 700 euros cheaper than the GMT hand.
However, the use of stainless steel is not a knockout criterion. Especially not when the material is as well made as in this case. The case of the Clavius presents itself qualitatively on the highest level and is in no way inferior to the established luxury brands.
I like the double domed watch glass. It is made of precious sapphire, a durable and extremely scratch-resistant material. I praise the anti-reflective coating on both sides. It improves readability and contributes to the high-quality appearance. The Botta CLAVIUS Automatic is water resistant to a depth of 50 meters. Therefore, it should be clear: diving is a no-go. The minimalist watch is not designed for that. However, splashes of water in everyday life do not pose a problem.
The crème de la crème of premium movements
Once you take the CLAVIUS off, you should take the time to admire the wealth of detail on the back. Botta has finished the caseback with a circular viewing window, which offers a view of the automatic movement. There was no skimping on the quality of the materials. Like the watch glass on the front, the glass back is made of sapphire crystal. This care marks the premium claim.
What you can see in the watch photography under the sapphire crystal is a Swiss automatic movement. This is either a 2824-2 from ETA or the identical clone from Sellita, a SW200. The reliable automatic caliber from the Swiss manufacturer ETA is a bank. The movement is considered accurate and reliable. It is used in premium models of numerous brands. In recent years, however, it has become rarer. An expiration of the patent protection in 2003 has induced other manufacturers to produce 1:1 copies of the original. The SW200 is equal to the original on the data sheet and also in practice. At 28800 vibrations per hour, both movements have a power reserve of 38 hours.
Before being installed in the Botta CLAVIUS automatic, the calibers are regulated by a master watchmaker for higher accuracy. A first-class service that is anything but a matter of course in this price category.
Attention to detail is what makes the rotor stand out. It picks up the characteristic dial design again.
Dial and bracelet of the Botta CLAVIUS Automatic
But what is this all about? The solution to the riddle is a black disk, which is attached above the actual dial. It has 60 fine perforations. When the second hand moves around the dial, it appears every second under one of the rectangular perforations. It seems as if a digital display is at play here. The optical illusion is actually simple and yet ingenious. Klaus Botta has turned a classic three-hand watch into an unconventional designer piece without much technical effort.
The disc design was immediately used to skillfully hide the minute and hour hands as well. What remains are two tips covered with green luminous material. What already looks amazing during the day, comes into its own even better in the dark. No one should get the idea that the watch on your wrist is not digital, but analog!
As usual, you can configure your new CLAVIUS to your taste. The configuration options concern the selection of the wristband and the case color. I opted for a bio leather strap. This can convince me with its good wearing comfort and fits in my opinion perfectly to the design of the watch. Best, you click yourself once through the different variants!
My conclusion about the Botta CLAVIUS Automatic
The Botta CLAVIUS Automatic has what it takes to become a timeless icon. With this extraordinary three-hand watch, Klaus Botta’s team has realized a design idea that, in my opinion, is as innovative as the invention of the single-hand watch. An idea that seems so simple that you think you could have come up with it yourself. But the impression is deceptive. What the buyer of a CLAVIUS wears on his wrist is a true masterpiece.
Fortunately, the timepiece can also maintain the level of craftsmanship. The two calibers are top-class, the materials are selected with intelligence and processed at “Made in Germany” premium level. So it’s almost a little surprising that the Botta CLAVIUS costs “only” 1280 euros. I consider the price-performance ratio to be fair.
In everyday life, this three-hand watch is fun. This is not only due to its stunning appearance, but also the high wearing comfort. Good service includes the variety of bracelets. If you want to be on the safe side before buying, you can print out a scale paper model on the homepage and put it on. Here you can also find the PDF instructions.
Links to the watch, the instructions and other interesting pages I have linked to you below!