By Mike Stuffler
Previously, I had only seen the brand’s watches on Instagram which then made me to took a closer look at www.elkawatch.ch. Whilst filling in the form for accreditation I flicked through the INHORGENTA exhibitors list and found ELKA Watch Co. listed.
On this list all exhibiting brands had the possibility to introduce themselves. ELKA Watch Co. did it in one sentence“ "ELKA watches are inspired by the times when a product was kept for life.“ Another fact that made me curious about ELKA.
So I did my homework and learned that the young brand was founded on 15 November 2022, after ELKA had a successful start on Kickstarter (June 2022). The Kickstarter campaign doubled its goal, and the first watches were shipped in autumn 2022.
I also learned that ELKA WATCH Co. is going to exhibit at Geneva’s „Time to Watch“ (March 28 to April 1, 2023).
ELKA is a well-known and well-sounding name from the good old days, read 1960s, among watch lovers but the new brand has no connection with the old and defunct Amsterdam brand.
Hakim El Kadiri told me that the brand’s name was chosen because friends and acquaintances often had difficulties with his name and so he chose for the initials of his last name EL KAdiri.
The old and defunct brand, known as Elka Watch Co. or Elka Watch Cy., Elka Watch & Clock Co was founded in 1877 in Groningen/NL by Ernst Louis Kiek Amsterdam.
In 1925 a member of the Kiek family patented the so called „unbreakable acrylic crystal for wrist watches“ and founded the "ENOHI" („Eerste Nederlandse Onbreekbare Horlogeglazen Industrie“).
They exported their crystals to all countries until WWII broke out.
They were also known for producing "simple" pin lever movements for blind people. Furthermore they were known for using generic A.Schild movements in many of their „in-house watches“.
One of their branches in the Kalverstraat, Amsterdam, was one of the first Rolex concessionaires in the Netherlands, they also sold brands like Ulysse Nardin, Vulcain, Heuer, Minerva, later Breitling, Universal, Jaeger-LeCoultre and Blancpain.
Another branch was located at Leidschestraat 21, Amsterdam, where affordable watches were sold and there was also an atelier of ELKA to be found under this address. For decades it was home to ELKA and - funny detail - its home of the Ben Joseph Family (Ace Juwelers / Ace Boutique) since 2000.
But from history back to the new ELKA Watch Co. which now is a Swiss Brand located in Neuchâtel.
It is worthwhile to mention that the new ELKA models pay homage to Ernst Louis Kiek`s brand and the „Zeitgeist“ of the 1960s. Two series are available up to now, named D- and X-series.
The beautifully shaped, remarkably flat case of the "Elka D Series" is inspired by the shape of a pocket watch. An absolute eye-catching feature of the ELKA D Series is its fine sunray finish.
The box-shaped sapphire crystal further accentuates the subtle vintage appeal. The dials are slightly domed as well.
The core collection comprises of 3 dials with baton markers (silver, blue, or charcoal grey), housed in 41 mm cases. They are typically distinguished by their dense, close-knit construction formed from steel springs which give them a smooth, fine surface making them breathable and highly comfortable to wear.
ELKA X Series
The Elka X Series takes inspiration from a flight instrument designed by Heuer for the defunct Elka brand.This is a sportier design with Arabic numerals marking the minutes at intervals of five around the perimeter of the dial.
The watch case is identical to those of the Elka D Series, but the similarities end here. Case diameter is 40,8mm, height 11,85mm, lug width is 20mm.
The lugs are as short as possible and and guarantee a comfortable wearing.
The dials of both the Elka X & D models are curved with curved hands.
All X-series models are fitted with a „Chevé Box“ sapphire crystal. They have the appearance of Hezalite glasses of the past.
The X series is reminiscent of the field watches from earlier times, the numerals on the dial are reminiscent of the design language of the WW II B-Uhren, Baumuster B.
This flight instrument inspired version comes with a choice of Nato straps. Originating in 1973 to supply the British Ministry of Defence with a highly durable strap. Also available are leather straps which are dyed to match the color of the dial.
The NATO straps will be beige or sand (with a black or beige dial), and blue (with the blue dial).
The X-Series feature a solid stainless steel back, the watches are rated water-resistant up to 30 meters.
3 dials are available
Hakim El Kadiri chose for the La Joux-Perret G 100 automatic movement.
- +black dial with numbers and hands looking like being coated with old radium, ELKA: „looks like burnt Tritium“
- +dark blue dial, white Superluminova numbers
- +a beige/sand dial with black numerals and an orange minuterie
With a 68-hour power reserve and 24 jewels, it oscillates at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour. The rotor runs on ball bearing.
The automatic G 100 by La Joux-Perret is not only more cost-effective, it also features an increased power reserve.
|Diameter / height||25,6mm / 4,45mm|
|Frequency||28,800 a/h / 4 Hz|
|Power Reserve||68 hrs|
|ETA 2824, SW 200-1|
MLJP claims that the accuracy of the G100 Standard version is adjusted to 3 positions with an average accuracy of +/-12 seconds per day with a maximum deviation of 30 seconds per day. A higher grade version is tested in 4 positions and times out to an average of +/-7 seconds per day with a max deviation of 20 sec/day.
At the beginning I quoted the slogan "ELKA watches are inspired by the times when a product was kept for life" and in fact the design of both model series is aimed at the past. Modern technology and design elements from the legendary 1960s are combined in an admirable way. I have no doubt that ELKA WATCH Co met the current zeitgeist and their watches are - again - made to last for a lifetime.
There’s a lot of „understanding“ and „knowledge“ being put into these watches. That’s not a big surprise when you know that ELKA Watch Co. founder Hakim El Kadiri has a long history in watchmaking. Hakim El Kadiri was „Head of Products’“ for Rado Watches. Previously he was head of product management for Swatch Group subsidiaries Hamilton Watch and Endura AG.
The ELKA X 02 (sand dial) was to be found under the competing watches of the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) 2022 Edition.
For prices/information/news on ELKA Watch Co. please check www.elkawatch.ch.
I am sure its worth to check their website from time to time, novelties are already in the pipeline.
For those interested, Watchisthis interviewed Hakim EL Kadiri, just follow the link: Interview Hakim El Kadiri – Founder of Elka Watches - Watchisthis.