Review: Tokyoflash Star Performer and Zero-G watches

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Katana and Watchizaki
You must have heard of Tokyoflash. They’ve got the coolest watches on both this and that side of Japan, and also make the best of those binary-time watches that puzzle you whenever you see them. I have two specimens of Tokyoflash gear right here with me — are they as solid as they look on the site?

I chose these two watches which I thought represented the more accessible portion of their stock. There are flashier, more obscure watches available for sure, but I think if you’re a first-time buyer you’d probably head towards one of the more subtle ones. I thought the Zero-G had a very elegant way of showing the time, and the Star Performer is just a bold piece of hardware.

Build quality + mass
First, I should say that the watches are definitely serious watches. These aren’t cheaply made; they’re built to last and they feel like it. Both are fully metal except for the displays, and the metal itself is an attractive gunmetal sheen, brushed but not dull. The Star Performer particularly is built like a tank, and the weight of it is reassuring on your wrist but not so much that your left arm is going to get all buff from checking your watch. The links have an armadillo-ish look to them; they’d probably stop a bullet. The Zero-G is less sturdy, but it’s also much smaller, and the band is, as advertised, about as thin as a dime. Build quality is excellent, so if you’ve held off on one of these because you felt it might be of “novelty watch” quality, lay your worries aside.

Flashy + functional
And how do they operate? Well, the Zero-G is the quickest and easiest to read; the hour is represented by a virtual watch hand, and an arc extends to where the minute hand would be. Once you get past the initial difficulty of the hour hand not getting closer to the hour you’re approaching, it becomes a very quick and straightforward way of checking the time. I only wish there were a way of making it display a Pac-Man. I know it’s possible. The two buttons are strictly for setting the time; I would have preferred one, I think, it kind of looks like the watch has buck teeth, but they’re solid and setting the time was easy. If you press the right button it does a little show for you.

My only problem with the Zero-G is that the band will occasionally grab hold of my wrist fuzz when it’s sliding up or down a bit. This can lead to screaming and swearing in inappropriate situations. The solution is to shave your wrist, but that’s insane and also carries the risk of accidental suicide.

“Epoch” Fatness
The Star Performer is more complicated, as you can see from the pictures. It’s blank most of the time, but when you press its big button, the numbers flash and settle on the current time. Press again while it’s displaying for date and then year. It also flashes the LEDs randomly, which freaked me out for a while (OMG ghost). In true Japanese style, the watch uses weird little graphics to represent things. You make money year after year, so the dollar sign (why not yen?) represents the year. Drinking is usually done in the evening, so a martini glass indicates PM. I could have done without the icons at all, but they add a little flavor and make it even more of a conversation piece. I found that the button was hard to depress, and was actually hurting my finger until I figured out you didn’t have to press it that hard. It’s still a little stiff for my taste, but it feels like it will never, ever break.

The displays will get greasy, and it’s noticeable because of the dark background, but I had no problems keeping them clean just with my sleeve – the display casing is thick and well-seated, no risk of it wobbling around.

Depending on your taste in watches, it really goes without saying that you might find one too small and one too large. You can see in the picture above that they do differ quite a lot in size, and if you have smaller wrists like me, the Star Performer might be a bit much.

In the end
These are some solid watches. The Zero-G is elegant and subtle, the Star Performer big, brash, and blue. If you’re in the market for something other than a cheesy silver-and-gold thing like everyone else has, you should definitely check these out. They’re a bit expensive, but $100-$200 is the going rate for high-quality watches, and these are definitely in that category. I wouldn’t call them a bargain, but I think you’re getting what you pay for.

And: keep your eyes out for the contest we’ll be running in just a little bit, you’ll have a chance to win a Tokyoflash watch, no purchase necessary!