The UPPERCASE watch…
LIV watches. If you’re a watch fan, you must have come across the brand at some point. They are very active on social media and they do have a compelling back story. Chaz, the owner and founder, worked with big brands in Switzerland and eventually started his own. What I found interesting was that there was not one single review around from any major watch blogs. I mean come on, you can even find reviews for Invicta and Diesel watches…so what’s the story?
Go on their website and various 3rd party sites and there’s literally an avalanche of 5 star reviews relating to both the customer service and watches. The materials, movements and quality assurance used are reported to be of a very high standard and that’s hard to argue with when reading the specifications.
LIV watches are large, loud and make a statement. Is this why they are dismissed by the serious blogs? Well, if that’s the case, why do we constantly come across so many other over the top watches (I’m looking at you, Richard Mille, HYT, Urwerk or even indie darling Helm). Still doesn’t make sense to a new(ish) collector of automatic watches.
This is a brand that is strictly direct to consumer and they have used Kickstarter very well over the years with several successful campaigns, the first one broke a few records.
Since this is the case, I’m going to write about the watch I backed but also the Kickstarter experience and dealing with the company directly.
On Wednesday 30 May 2018, four watches were launched on Kickstarter. There was one that spoke to me, a bit more restrained, a dial clearly inspired by the Omega Seamaster. It had, amongst other great specs, a ceramic rotating bezel and an ETA movement. The campaign was very successful once again and backers were excited for the stated delivery time of November 2018.
It’s safe to say that very few Kickstarter campaigns ever deliver on time, this is just a chance that you take on the platform. It’s another safe statement that if you want to see the worst of humanity on social media, Kickstarter campaign comments and YouTube comments is the place for you. LIV were quite good in updating backers on the challenges. They had particular issues with the ceramic bezels. There were a number of updates through November (‘18), Jan, March, April & May with more production issues, followed by some extremely irate customers around the world who perhaps did not understand what you’re in for when you back a campaign on Kickstarter.
I started to get ready for the fact that this perhaps was going to put LIV out of business and the watch was never to arrive. In early June 2019 a new update ‘Urgent matter for 44mm Diver’. After finally receiving the first batch of Divers, the team was gearing up to deliver (presumably a massive sigh of relief). Final inspection however, revealed the bezels were fixed and did not rotate. On a Dive Watch. 1 year in the making.
At this point, I actually felt sorry for the team in addition to just getting incredibly fed up with the whole thing. I certainly wasn’t the only one that wondered how the @%$# this bezel thing could happen, of all things. Who was the supplier, Clowns inc? Had no one ever touched a dive watch?
Some backers elected to receive the watch as is, others elected to wait for the rectified model. I do want to state that the LIV team were amazing to deal with throughout all this. Always service minded, friendly, enthusiastic and professional. God knows, they must have been in some dark places in that time.
I took delivery of the LIV GX Swiss Diver’s Automatic 44m w Cyclops, Black and Silver, on 30 September 2019, 16 Months after backing the project.
So, how were my first impressions? Very good in fact. It was well made, fitted my wrist pretty well and the dial was reasonably nice and clean. I could definitely see why fans were so complimentary in their reviews. I’d say that if this was your first introduction to a ‘proper’ watch, you’d be very pleased with the result.
The dial had the laser cut wave patterns nailed and this design best complements the overall design language that LIV use (big numbers and lots of branding). Some of their dials with more complications just look a mess to me, but this one works. I elected to have the ‘cyclops’ to enhance the date. I figured, why not have a date complication that I can actually read for once.
Unfortunately, I didn’t research this properly before committing. I had always assumed that this sort of feature would be part of the Sapphire crystal, but in fact there are some options here that watchmakers use.
You can have the cyclops over or under the crystal and in this instance, it was a small rounded ‘above’ used. I hated it. But, my own fault. Live and learn.
Turn the watch over and everything looked great. Plenty of specs engraved in the back and a branded rotor on the nice ETA movement. The black and silver combination looked very attractive.
Double injected and made from high-grade silicone. Made to feel soft and firm and give you LIV watch a more sporty feel. Perfect for water activity, just an all round solid strap.
On to the case itself. As per the pictures, it is very solid and angular around the perfectly round dial. I think it looks good. The signed crown sits nicely between some solid looking crown guards and when unscrewed, pops out nicely. It does feel almost weapon like in its construction and banging this in to a piece of furniture or a wall, my money would be on the watch…
Now on to what seems like LIV’s arch nemesis…the bezel. It rotates. Check. Does it feel good? Yeah, perfectly acceptable and it importantly aligns properly at the 12 o’clock. Phew. Clowns Inc. clearly did a good job rectifying this comedy mistake.
The lume on the watch and bezel is very impressive. Easy to see and lasts a good amount of time. It did seem to me that the bezel lume is a slightly different shade of blue (lighter) but that could just be me or the slight difference in material used.
If you’re going to order yourself a LIV Watch, then I’d 100% recommend the silicon straps. They are nicely fitted and are designed to minimise the size of the watch. They’re also really good quality in my opinion. Not as soft and pliable as what Seiko uses on their dive watches but comfortable and good looking all the same. The little stripes design features that LIV use on their straps, look good. I do have some experience with their inhouse leather options, enough to say – avoid.
I’m a newish collector (a few years). Something happened to me over the last 2 years and my tastes basically changed. The large wrist presence watch is not where I’m taking my collection and that leaves the LIV watch out. I enjoyed the watch for a while, I couldn’t really fault it and there were some colleagues that complemented the look. However, I sold it at a loss and I don’t miss it.
Did the overall experience with the Kickstarter campaign dampen my enthusiasm for the brand and watch? Yes, I think it did. No disrespect to the team and staff (as stated, they were great) but the chain of events just made me appreciate the quality assurance of established brands and it certainly made me do some more research before backing other watch brands on Kickstarter.
I’ve had many other positive experiences on that platform. I now check historical campaigns and the creator's overall web presence before committing serious money. That was my biggest lesson learnt here, and it was worth it.
The watch itself, if you’re in to this type of watch, like the brand and want something that makes a statement on your wrist – then I think you’re in safe hands buying from LIV’s website directly.
Did you enjoy this review? Coffee fuels my night time ponderings.