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With the Kieser tragwerk.T, bionics is conquering the watch world. Can we follow nature’s example and build watches that are even more robust and lighter? Matthias Kieser has an answer to this question with the tragwerk.T and provides this test report with a very special timepiece…
How Kieser Design wants to shake up the watch market
Matthias Kieser wants to revolutionize the luxury watch market. He hopes to succeed with a design that the industry has never seen before. For his radical design, the founder of Kieser Design has taken direct inspiration from nature. The keyword is bionics: the construction and design are reminiscent of a dragonfly. Thus, the advanced features of the insect’s body can also be found in the genes of the timepiece. I find the idea bizarre and at the same time incredibly exciting.
tragwerk.T is the name of the first watch with which Matthias Kieser has introduced to the market in October 2021. When it was released, the founder already had three years of intensive planning and development behind him. For Kieser, who holds a master’s degree in management and technology from the Technical University of Munich, the journey actually began as a hobby, as a balance to his demanding office job in the financial industry.
From hobby to own brand
tragwerk.T literally means “structural framework”, a technical term from architecture for load-bearing parts of a structure, referring to the robust case of the watch. In addition to the technical meaning, it is a play on words that alludes to the fact that you wear a watch movement on your arm (German “Trag” = wearing and “Werk” = movement). This is because the tragwerk.T is designed for everyday wear: super comfortable, extremely robust and durable, and never becoming boring. By the way, the “.T” stands for titanium.
In the meantime, he has overcome the first hurdles and passed major milestones. About a year and a half after the market launch, the strict business plan is paying off with a company that is as solid as its own watch. Quality products with plenty of room for individual design, good service and a lean corporate structure with short lines of communication are the key to success.
Matthias Kieser himself keeps the reins in his hands. In addition to his duties as managing director and designer, he is the one who actually makes the watch parts in his workshop and finishes them by hand, buys the materials, and is the personal contact for his customers and prospective customers: tasks that are usually taken on by a multitude of people in traditional companies. In addition, Kieser works with a network of external partners from the trade: Suppliers, technical consultants, a master watchmaker, a photographer and whomever else is needed.
A look behind the scenes is always incredibly interesting for me, which is why I’m describing the founder’s story so intensively here. How transparently Kieser Design shares its journey and creative process deserves recognition.
Still, a watch brand is rightly judged for its final product, which we haven’t really talked about yet. The tragwerk.T makes a few promises. There’s the amount of individualization options which are meant to surpass the competition. While others have two or three other dial colors in the program, Kieser Design wants to give the customer design options for the case as well.
The case construction is also supposed to stand out from the rest. An exoskeleton, which Matthias Kieser borrowed from the dragonfly, is intended to protect the wristwatch even more effectively from external influences. Using ideas from nature to solve technical problems – that’s what we call bionics.
But can the ambitious goals be achieved in reality? That’s what this watch review aims to clarify.
The case and its exoskeleton explained
Matthias Kieser wisely patented his unique case. Describing the unusual construction is not easy. The inner case (made of titanium grade 5) resembles that of common watch models. However, it is surrounded by an exoskeleton (also made from a raw piece of titanium), which shields the case from external impacts, such as shocks and scratches. This is primarily intended to extend the life of the watch. I like the filigree, futuristic-looking design of the exoskeleton, which at first glance doesn’t look like protection at all, but rather like a decorative element. But the impression is deceptive: the exoskeleton proves to be extremely functional.
Because Kieser Design manufactures the tragwerk.T case exclusively from titanium, the manufacturer can realize a low weight of just 47 grams! True to the motto “everything from our own hands”, Kieser Design manufactures the case (as well as the dials down to the smallest index, hands, rotors and clasps) in-house in a workshop in Frankfurt am Main. Numerous pictures and videos document that the founder has acquired a broad range of processes and techniques which he uses in manufacturing all the components of the tragwerk.T.
I am thrilled with the quality of the materials and manufacturing. Kieser Design has reached a level that can easily compete with established luxury brands.
The Kieser tragwerk.T on the wrist
How does a watch with an exoskeleton wear? Very well, due to the light weight – you hardly feel the watch in everyday life. With a diameter of 42 millimeters, the tragwerk.T doesn’t exclude anyone size-wise. However, I find the lug-to-lug dimensions more surprising. This is – hard to believe – also only 42 millimeters. It is achieved by the curved exoskeleton, which replaces bulky lugs.
Kieser Design states a water resistance of up to 10 bar, with which you can swim without any problems. I would rather advise against diving. Anti-reflective, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal was installed both on the front and back.
In the configurator
It is often seen with companies that they are too focused on what they can make rather than what the customer needs. At Kieser, the customer has a vast number of options in the configurator to design the tragwerk.T according to his own ideas. It almost reminds you of car brands. The best place to start is the dial. Matthias Kieser was inspired by the compound eyes of insects and developed an organic-looking 3D honeycomb structure. A brushed dial is also available as an option. Both versions are available in six color variants. Next, we turn our attention to the second hand and second ring. Dial and indices are made of titanium. SuperLuminova luminescent coating makes for good readability even in the dark.
The black DLC-coated inner case on my test model can also be anodized in four different colors or kept raw. Even the crown can be ordered in titanium or black, just the way you like it.
Movement and strap of the Kieser tragwerk.T
Each Kieser tragwerk.T is powered by a top-quality Sellita SW200. In the premium quality level, it impresses with a rate accuracy of -4/+4 seconds per day – an outstanding value. The automatic movement with 38 hours power reserve is modified by Kieser Design. A completely new rotor is built in-house. To save weight, it is made of titanium and 18kt gold (how could it be otherwise). The view through the glass back is impressive. And here, too, the customer can (let) lend a hand. Rotor, case screws and movement retaining ring can be color-matched to the inner case or the seconds ring. Also another of the six colors is possible. There are no limits here. Disappointing “This only works with this and that” packages? No way!
Handmade Cordura straps allow for high wearing comfort and can withstand quite a bit. Their inside is lined with soft calfskin. You can already guess: there are hardly any restrictions here either. You can set off the stitching in terms of color or bring colored Cordura into play. A clasp made of titanium – also from Kieser’s own workshop – ensures a secure fit and a design that matches the case. Kieser’s straps have ordinary spring bars and can be replaced within seconds with the help of a standard tool.
If that’s still not enough, the high degree of individuality can be taken to the extreme. Matthias Kieser also implements customer wishes that even the configurator cannot fulfill. As examples, he cites special colors for components, special engravings in desired places, and straps made of special materials. Of course, this drives the price up even further, depending on the effort involved.
My final conclusion on the Kieser tragwerk.T
You think you’ve seen it all: and then you come across this watch! In my opinion, the tragwerk.T is one of the most exciting watches in the luxury segment. Matthias Kieser is not the first to make the “custom watch” presentable. However, this project seems more mature than I have ever seen anywhere. It starts with the concept of bionics, which challenges previous wristwatch constructions while creating a spectacular design with high recognition value. If I had heard of an “insect design” a few weeks ago, I would have suspected creepy things. However, the tragwerk.T is anything but bizarre, but a serious luxury watch.
This is guaranteed not only by the carefully selected and processed materials. You can tell that Matthias Kieser manages all areas himself, which guarantees high quality and a coherent overall look.
Then there are the numerous configuration options, and it still amazes me how they can be produced in a single workshop in Frankfurt am Main.
However, good quality, a high degree of self-determination in design and close contact with the customer come at a price. By that I don’t even mean the amount of money you have to pay for the Kieser tragwerk.T. Similar to a self-configured car, ordering a tragwerk.T involves waiting times. Logically, the demand is high and Kieser Design stands for many things, but certainly not for mass production. Only about 50 watches are manufactured each year.
Prices usually start from 5,400.00 euros. The configuration as you can see on my photos currently costs 6,540.00 euros.
As always, you can find all the important info and links below.
More about Kieser Design and the tragwerk.T
Here you can configurate your own tragwerk.T