Undercover Chrono

By Gary Girdvainis

The seamless D Loke Dress Chronograph integrates two levers into its customized case.  

Full disclosure: I’m not afraid to say that presenting this particular watch is a real treat for me, so I might not be entirely objective. 

I’ve known Don Loke first as a client when he represented Parmigiani Fleurier in their first foray into North America in the 1990s and as a friend for more than twenty-five years since then. During these decades I’ve learned much of my technical watch knowledge looking over Don’s shoulder as he repaired and restored some of the most complicated vintage and modern watches ever made. 

Whether minute repeaters, perpetual calendars, or even a triple chronograph pocket watch (never even knew that existed) Don can breathe life back into them all and make them live again. Need a balance staff; he’ll make it. Need a new retaining spring; he’ll fabricate and temper it. Geneva stop works, no problem.

To be sure I’ve learned more about the mechanical side of watch making from Don than any other source in my thirty years as a reporter on watches. This, in part, is why I chose him as a member of the iW advisory board. 

Full disclosure aside, and with Don’s credentials as a master watchmaker (Bowman School, WOSTEP, and more) confirmed, he’s also been in charge of service and establishing North American distribution for prominent watch brands including Breguet, Audemars Piguet, Daniel Roth, Gerald Genta and Parmigiani Fleurier, among others. Loke is a former Technical Director of ETA (now part of Swatch Group) Industries for the U.S. Market. He also served as the Director of the American Watch & Clockmakers Institute (now AWCI). Clearly a resume few can equal.   

Like so many other watchmakers, Don has wanted for years to bring his own watches to life and I am absolutely thrilled to premier the first of several D Loke watches that will be released in the coming years. 

Having kept this a secret for far too long, I am finally allowed to present the D Loke Dress Chronograph. 

OK – so where are the buttons? Clearly there are sub-dials that allude to interval timing capability, but how do they work? Sure there are two crowns, but one is for adjusting the time and setting the watch, the other for rotating the inner elapsed-time bezel – close but no chronograph. 

In this case (pun intended) the chronograph is actuated by two integrated levers that are seamlessly engineered into the profile of the case. Look closely at the crown at the 3 o’ clock position and you can just see the seam where case meets pusher. This clever design creates a clean and balanced profile while disposing of the sport-watch look of a typical chronograph. Did I say Don was a designer as well as a watchmaker?

Of course a real watchmaker will want to ensure a better-than-usual set of components, and the D Loke Dress Chronograph exhibits this tendency. 

A 43.5mm grade 5 titanium case with both brushed and polished finishes is water resistant to 50 meters and protects a 25-jewel Concepto Cal. 8100 (quality 1) decorated movement regulated by Loke to chronometer

standards. The pure white dial is crafted in enamel with applied and faceted blue markers and two sunken sub-dials, one for the chronograph minutes, the other for the accumulated hours. 

Look closely and you’ll notice that even the hands are custom designs with a leading edge that forms a full tip when exactly in line with the five-minute markers. Held in place with a superb and nicely padded navy blue alligator strap with blue stitching, you can own one of only twenty-five of each variation for $9,900 by contacting Don Loke at loke.dr@gmail.com or arrange to see one at our Leading Watch Retailer partner Armstrong Rockwell in Hartford, Connecticut.