If you had to distill Adsum’s design ethos into a single sentiment, it’d be something like “simple is best”. The Brooklyn-based brand excels at making easy-wearing menswear staples stripped of extraneous details, with a focus on fit and fabric instead. Its pieces skew outdoors-y but steer clear of over-the-top gorp aesthetics—shorts that can handle a grueling hike as easily as a Sunday morning coffee run, say, or swishy rain jackets that don’t scream “last chance at REI”. Over the years, the brand’s remit has extended to include almost every part of the closet, though it’s never risked a foray into the watch market. But with the help of the horology experts at Timex, Adsum’s first timepiece is officially here—and true to the brand’s guiding principles, it’s about as low-key as a hotly-anticipated watch can be.
For its first ever partnership with the legendary American horologists, Adsum looked to the MK1. Originally produced for the U.S. Marines in the ‘80s, the model was discontinued after only a few months because of a caseback that made repairs next to impossible. Suffice to say, it quickly amassed a cult following among the type of watch enthusiasts that prize scarcity above all else. Timex eventually introduced an updated version of the MK1 in 2016 (this time with enhanced repairability and a more durable build), and in the time since it’s been iterated upon by brands like YMC, Goodhood, and Todd Snyder.
Adsum’s rendition features a quartz movement wrapped in a 36mm stainless steel case with convenient glow-in-the-dark hands and water resistance to 30 meters, but otherwise, it’s remarkably unremarkable. It’s entirely devoid of the kind of dazzling complications and dials that make watch geeks foam at the mouth, and it’s a far cry from the wrist-sized supercomputers you can use to track your health or text your friends. (It also swaps out the watch’s usual typeface for Adsum’s preferred Helvetica font, a nod to the brand’s New York home base.) Save for a tiny logo at the bottom of the face, you might not be able to tell it was the result of a collaboration at all.
Which is kind of the point. With so many stimuli constantly vying for your attention, it’s refreshing to glance down at your wrist and see a watch that revels in its simplicity. Like Dieter Rahms’ work at Braun or, ironically, any slew of Apple products, Adsum’s MK1 is plain and simple in the best sense. It’s not a stealthy hunk of aluminum you fish out of your pocket with a groan, or a mechanical marvel equipped with more complications than you’ll ever need. Mostly, it tells the time and reminds you to be present, whether you’re exploring the outdoors or merely imagining you are while you finally clear out your inbox. Existential bliss—or, at least, a tantalizing glimpse of it—rarely comes this cheap.