Ikepod Megapode Date
$2500-3500 USD (APPROX)
Founded in 1994, Ikepod is a Swiss watchmaker founded by Oliver Ike (an entrepreneur) and Marc Newson (a designer that needs no further introduction). The name of the brand is a combination of Ike’s last name and earlier work by Newson called the Pod Watch (1986) and Pod Clock (1989). This explains the conceptual similarities between Ikepod's lineup and the Pod timepieces. The history of Ikepod is a complex one full of difficulties. In 2003, Ikepod went bankrupt and was later taken over by a New York art dealer, Adam Lidemann. At this point, the company started producing more exclusive pieces at higher prices and lower quantities. Although some of my favorite pieces were produced in this resurrected period, the company still had issues and Newson eventually left in 2012. Ikepod is still operating as a company but there haven’t been any new products or developments since then.
Although some of Newson’s work is questionable, there is no doubt that he is one of the most interesting and ingenious designers of the modern era. When it comes to form in particular, he is exceptional and has been making some truly enduring work in the past decade. The Ikepod watches are of this nature – they’ve been timeless thus far and I suspect they’ll stay this way. If there’s any product that I can call my favorite piece of design, this is it.
There are two Ikepod models that remain as the most iconic – the Hemipode and Megapode. Both watches were produced in a large range of styles, with the Hemipode dual-time chronograph being the favorite amongst fans. It too is my personal favorite and has been my dream watch for as long as I can remember. I found it hard to justify spending so much on a watch so I recently purchased a more affordable model, the Megapode Date. The standard Megapode is the better known variation but also more complicated. It features time, date, chronograph, as well as a slide rule which I think leaves the dial looking a bit too complex. The Megapode Date is a far simpler 3-hand watch with a date window.
The Megapode Date was manufactured from 2002 to 2003. It’s worth emphasizing this because I find it incredible how modern the watch looks despite it being 13 years old. It’s not just progressive for something a decade old - it still looks forward thinking and futuristic today. The watch is water resistant to a depth of 50 meters and has a movement based on the ETA 2824-2. It is one of ETA’s most popular movements and while it isn’t prestigious or exotic, it has made its name as a workhorse. It’s used by countless brands, from Longines to IWC.
In terms of design, what defines the Megapode is the monocoque stainless steel case. It joins the sapphire crystal in a continuous way, creating a pure and fluid surface. This clean form is further enhanced by having only one part line next to the bezel. The watch is assembled entirely from the front, which is unusual and does create complications for servicing. It's a price worth paying for its pure form though.
By making the watch disassemble via a single part line on the bezel, you’re left with a gorgeous, uninterrupted back. The back is easily my favorite view of the product. The voluminous form is complimented by an elegantly off-center window looking into the movement. There’s some nice detailing in the movement to marvel at too, particularly on the oscillating weight (engraved with a typically Newson pattern). Ikepod produced 9999 units in each dial version (was available in seven colors) with every casing numbered on the back. As you can see, this one is 0521/9999.
As far as I know, the Megapode is the biggest watch Ikepod has produced. At 47mm, it’s massive, but not crazy by today’s standards. Back in 2002 though, 47mm was considered to be more of a ridiculous size, and the Megapode was one of the first watches to start the normalization of large watches. Something to keep in mind though is that the Megapode has such a rounded form that the watch doesn’t look or feel like its size. On the wrist, you'd believe that it's just 44mm.
The icon (mascot?) of the brand is the button quail; a small, flightless bird that is remarkably unremarkable. It’s a member of the hemipode family of birds which brings a bit of sense to the watch with the same unusual name. This bird-based naming convention is continued by the megapode, which is a stocky chicken-like bird. In older Ikepod models, the quail is only present on the crown, but post 2003, the bird took a more important role and became a part of the logo, which was engraved directly on the crystal. You can always tell apart these later models by this little detail.
The Megapode Date came in seven different dial colors, with the grey one being my choice (model name MGD05). The grey dial is matte, complimenting the brushed stainless steel and it also pairs well with the orange second hand. The design of the dial is very clean with delicate markings and a slightly embossed logo which adds a nice detail.
The sapphire crystal is super thick, and extends about 4.5mm above the casing. The thickness really gives the sapphire a rich look, and I just love the way light falls off the crystal and meets the body. The crystal comes with an antireflective coating from the factory which I’ve found to scratch pretty easily. I suppose AR coatings weren't as advanced in 2002. After seeing a few scratches on the coating, I ended up just polishing it off to the sapphire.
I have been wearing the Apple Watch daily and while its impact on my life is questionable, it has definitely gotten me more interested in horology. The Apple Watch wet my appetite for watches with its pseudo Ikepod looks and made me wonder - why don't I just get the real thing?
Ikepod watches are best known for their “pod-like” form but the signature strap design is just as iconic. It’s an uninterrupted rubber strap that is free of clasps, using an ingenious pin-and-tuck closure system. I think this strap is one of the most creative designs conceived by Marc Newson, and it’s always a pleasure to see a new strap design because it's a rarity in the watch world.
While Ikepod wasn’t able to popularize their strap design, Marc Newson’s involvement at Apple has been able to bring it to the masses in a scale nobody could have imagined. The similarities between the Ikepod and Apple Watch bands are uncanny. It's fun to compare them and all you can conclude is that the Apple Watch bands are more comfortable, better made, and also more attractive than the original. It seems like all the lessons learned through the original design was applied to Apple's modern iteration. Practice makes perfect.
An interesting trait of the rubber Ikepod straps is that they’re vanilla scented. My straps are over a decade old but they still smell pretty strongly of an overly chemical, obnoxious vanilla scent. I don’t enjoy the smell but find it at least conceptually intriguing.
The sculptural form of the Megapode is truly embraced when put on the wrist. Most watches can be seen as a two-dimensional object: a face that sits on a wrist. But the Megapode is an enjoyable object from all views, thanks to the fluid form that removes distinction between the front and back. The form is also ideal for comfort as it minimizes contact with your wrist. Paired with the rubber straps, the watch is surprisingly comfortable despite being so large.
One of my favorite things about the Megapode is the lugless design. I think they're unsightly and crude, unless if they’re on a classic example. The way the Megapode's straps simply pierce the monocoque case is so fresh and modern. They're attached using tiny screws on both sides of the strap, hiding nearly all signs of mechanical attachment. This really reinvents the traditional watch form; it creates a bold aesthetic and brings harmony unseen in traditional watches. Sure, people say that you shouldn’t reinvent the wheel but nobody said anything about modernizing it.
Ever since I started studying design, I remember being mesmerized by Ikepods. The sleek, futuristic design looked extraordinary and unlike anything else I had seen before. I’m sure that them being unobtainable also had something to do with my fascination for them. To keep the watches exclusive, Ikepod restricted the list of dealers, which made them even harder to come by. Before acquiring my own, I had never even seen one in person. Now that I finally have one, I can really come to appreciate the beauty and nuances of it as an object. It is truly a magnificent thing and so well thought out, from the sculptural form to the immensely clever straps. Once you begin wearing a mechanical watch, you also notice a certain poetry to the art of timekeeping. There's a level of craftsmanship and engineering elegance that cannot be matched by digital devices. Thanks Apple, for making me fall in love with watches.