The Lytt Labs Inception V1.1 is undoubtedly cool and unique, but it doesn’t exactly look like a comfortable watch from the photos. It’s big, it’s square, it’s on a strap that flails around when handling it… but if ever there was a time to throw in a cliche about judging a book by its cover, now would be the time. Simply put, this watch is very comfortable on the wrist all day long! It’s more than that, it’s satisfying – and a guaranteed conversation starter.
Although square-ish, you’ll notice that the case is curved along each side. It is also curved from the bottom to the top. The means that the edges of the square won’t dig into your arm or wrist. Another nod towards the comfort factor is that the lugs are positioned near the bottom of the case, which allows the strap to be more flush against your wrist.
For watch enthusiasts that rock their timepieces on the left wrist, the crown position can be the tipping point of discomfort. While the Inception’s crown is by no means small at 10mm diameter, it’s also curved and garnished with a rubber ring around it, careful not to distract from the aforementioned comfort attributes of the case. The push-pull style of crown doesn’t lend a hand to increase the 50m depth rating, but this is obviously not a watch you’d go diving in.
The Inception measures out to be 45mm x 45mm (about 50mm with the crown). The most narrow point of the case tappers in to about 41mm wide, and the strap meets the case at about a 27mm lug-width.
This difference in width ensures that the Inception stays popped out of your shirt cuff at all times. If you like your watches to be seen and not tucked away under your cuff, this piece will do that for you. No more cold days with your watch buried in the sleeves of your coat and sweater, the Inception will have no problem staying on the outside of your winter gear for easy access to the time.
The flat top sapphire crystal on the Inception is treated with a quadruple anti-reflective coating, giving a clear view into the dial from all angles. It’s nice to see a crystal that isn’t round for a change.
It’s clear that Lytt Labs didn’t just spew out a case on the fly, thought was put into this design to make it as big and bold as possible, while also being manageable for daily wear.
On the back of the watch is a QR code that when scanned, takes you to Lytt Labs website to validate the serial number and confirm the authenticity of the piece. Along the edge of the watch in this review is an etched reference number LLICT-02-02, although the actual reference number app Lytt Labs website.
The strap that comes on the watch is a black silicone material. Silicone is soft and pliable, which makes it look flimsy and loose. Some watch brands put low quality silicone straps on their products, knowing they are going to have to sell a replacement strap down the line. Even if you’re not a fan of silicone straps for that reason, you really have to give the strap on the Inception a fair chance. It beats all expectations of what a high quality silicone strap should be and it lends to the overall comfort factor of the watch.
Firstly, they reinforced the silicone with stitching along the perimeter of the strap. The thread matches the color of the case, so the rose gold or steel models will have a similar colored stitch. The all black strap that is on the watch being reviewed here would look great on all of the models.
The buckle is a double prong tang style that gives the strap more stability and allows it to be slightly wider. The construction of the buckle matches the slopes of the case design and is signed with minimal Lytt Labs logo engraving. One of the two catches is held in place by holders and the bottom of the strap has a grip pattern to help keep it in place on your wrist.
The silicone strap really beat all initial expectations, but there are two things that some collectors won’t like: silicone tends to attract dust and lint, and the dark color makes it easy to see. Also, the way the band connects flush to the case means that strap addicts are limited to how they can configure this piece. Luckily, Lytt Labs sells some pretty sweet strap options, such as croc style and distressed leather.
Additional straps include a heavy duty tool for removing the screws that attach to the lugs. It is super easy, and for a proprietary system with screws, it was a very satisfying strap change, again beating all expectations.
The case is fluid and there is no visible way to gain access to the movement within. To do so, your watchmaker would first remove the four screws that hold the strap, then another four screws that hold the case together.
The top half of the case contains the crystal and lifts up along with parts of the dial that have the hour and minute indicators. From there, a plate is held by screws, and needs removed. The movement cannot lift out of the bottom half of the case because the crown and stem are still attached… now is where confusion sets in. How can you get the stem out without access to the stem release lever on the back of the movement?
All of the Inception versions are powered by the well-known and solid performing Seiko Instruments (SII) caliber NH35A base movement. This affordable automatic workhorse helps keep the price down, as well as giving preferred functionality such as hacking seconds and hand-winding. You can learn all about the NH35A here, but keep in mind that Lytt Labs made their own modifications to meet the needs of the Inception’s design.
On a regular watch, the dial is stationary and the hands move to tell time against the backdrop of the dial. The concept of the Inception is like the opposite of that. Instead of the traditional three hand layout for telling the time, the Inception conveys this through the use of arrowheads. This is achieved by using discs with hour and minute markers in place of hands. These discs rotate clockwise in relation to the passage of time, while the arrows (part of the dial) are in a fixed position.
Only one out of three arrows moves, the other two are actually stationary elements of the dial. The larger arrow in the upper left corner points to the hours, while the secondary arrow on the right signals the minutes. The central arrow continuously spins clockwise to indicate the smooth running seconds.
Yet again, Lytt Labs is putting you in a “don’t judge a book by its cover” situation with the Inception. It looks complicated to decipher the time, but it’s almost as easy as reading the time on a digital clock. The time is displayed left to right with a quick glimpse of the numbers the two arrows are pointing at. The cool factor here is that when a colleague at a meeting or a passenger sitting next to you on the train tries to sneak a peak at the time on your wrist, they won’t have a clue what they are looking at. For that reason, the Inception V1.1 is an almost guaranteed conversation starter.
The retail price at the time of this review is $849 USD for the V1.1, but you can find the V1.0 for $749 USD. The main difference between the two models, aside from color offerings and improved legibility, is that the updated V1.1 has lumed hands and markers. We’d highly recommend the V1.1 as the cool lume design is well worth the extra 100 bucks.
The packaging and presentation was impressive. Many other microbrands lack in this area, but Lytt Labs has a heavy dark grey box with a lid that slides upwards from the base to reveal a felt wrapped watch holder. The holder would actually look nice on a dresser or shelf when the watch is not being worn. The cards are all printed on matte paper with well-designed graphics and imagery. Also included, was a Lytt Labs logo keychain. Extras like this are always nice!
And if the Inception V1.1 isn’t enough for your unique watch appetite, stay tuned for the upcoming 8:20 review of the Inception Prodigy! For now, enjoy the teaser comparison pic above!
*Original article courtesy of KEEPTHETIME Blog