The Series Z Box Set
One of the first surprising aspects of the Series Z watch by CIGA Design is the box set that accompanies the watch and which you interact with before ever laying eyes on the timepiece.
The main presentation box, or rather “booklet”, is delivered in a cardboard box. Inside the cardboard box is the aforementioned “booklet” which has a sleeve possessing an embossed image of the Series Z. Remove the sleeve, open up the front and you’re greeted by the watch head and two straps, each of which is secured in a slot that is essentially cut into the booklet.
This presentation is really quite commendable. Often, box sets are experienced once and then stored away forever (if not lost). Perhaps this one will fare the same fate, yet, I was quite pleased with this presentation as it highlighted the brand’s effort input, not just on the watch but the product as a whole.
The Series Z’s Steel Case
The Series Z being a sporty watch, I chose to go with the silicone strap first. It took just a couple of seconds to attach it to the case as each of the straps has small metal “tabs” on the backside that completely mitigate the need for strap-changing tools.
Looking over the case of the CIGA Series Z, it’s not difficult to see the idea behind the watch’s design. This tonneau or “barrel-shaped” case is one that has become very well-known in recent times thanks to the popularity of the insanely-priced Richard Mille models.
However, more experienced collectors recognize that it is also one that has existed for decades and, previous to the last 5 years, was a case profile popularized by many other brands including Hublot (with the Spirit of Big Bang) and Franck Muller.
When it comes to dimensions, the Series Z’s stainless steel case measures 40.8mm across, 48mm lug-to-lug, 12.5mm in height, and has a strap size of 22mm. The case is crafted entirely from stainless steel that has been precisely CNCed to produce the tonneau shape; it also boasts chamfered, polished edges that smoothen out the face of the watch.
On the flanks, one side has been etched with the brand name while the other possesses the crown guards and textured crown.
A substantial detail of this case are the bilateral channels cut into the case by the sides of the dial. These extend the skeletonized theme encountered on the dial into the case itself.
These channels also contain two screws each that at first seem completely cosmetic but which act as hour indices (2, 4, 6, 8). Within one of these channels, one can also see the crown tube that has been presented in red, matching the accents on the hands.
Overall, the case is solidly built and unique in its design, clearly offering a sleek sports look while also integrating with the skeletonized look of the watch.
Series Z Watch: Skeletonized Dial
On to the highlight of the CIGA Design Series Z, the skeletonized dial. Indeed, most of the dial has been completely skeletonized which gives the watch its snazzy look. Additionally, many of the elements of the movement have also been skeletonized which allows for a largely unobstructed view into the inner workings.
The hands at center have likewise been hollowed out and possess red accents as well as a bit of lume. For improved legibility, there’s also a minimalist minute track surrounding the entire dial. At 12, one can even get a look at the mainspring within the barrel and observe as it coils up as the movement is wound.
It can be difficult to appreciate what CIGA Design has done correctly with the Series Z without being familiar with what a bad example looks like so allow me to elaborate.
I scrutinized the dial from up close and found no rough edges; further, the entire dial surface has been satin finished. Watch movements will regularly leave the factory in unsightly conditions if they’re not going to be visible, but a lot of time (and money) has gone into making sure this dial and movement look the part.
The brand has taken care to finish the movement and dial to a very high standard. Clearly, the folks at CIGA Design understood the face of this watch was going to be admired from up close and it needed to be free of imperfections. Considering the price point, this is an even more impressive feat.
Silicone & Leather Straps
I was glad to see that the Series Z box set included two accessory straps in silicone and leather, each of which has its own CIGA Design-branded steel buckle.
The silicone strap has small dots on the top and bottom surface; the second has alligator scale patterns on top but is not genuine alligator hide and I was not surprised by this given the cost associated with the material.
So far, I’ve spent the most time with the silicone option as I find it fits the look of the watch the best. Also, I’m dreading the break-in period of the leather strap. Nevertheless, I did put the leather strap on for a couple of the images and the watch still looked good, it’s just not my preferred option.
CIGA Design Customized Movement
Powering the Series Z, and clearly visible through the front sapphire crystal and rear exhibition caseback, is a customized Seagull ST2553JK. This movement is time-only but has automatic winding and a 40-hour power reserve.
Much of the customization on this movement has gone into hollowing out as much of it as possible. This allows one to get a really great look at all of the components such as the balance, escapement, mainspring barrel, and more.
As mentioned previously, these are all components that tend to not be decorated as a cost-saving measure. Yet, this ST2553JK has all of its screws and gears mirror-polished, edges chamfered, and surfaces finished. For those with an interest in the mechanical aspect of timepieces, this movement offers not only a clear view into the inner workings but also one which has been made more satisfactory by a well-finished caliber.
Review Of The CIGA Design Series Z
All in all, I was quite surprised with the Series Z. Aesthetically, I was able to appreciate the effort that the brand put into creating a detailed and cohesive product. From the box to the watch to the minute details in the movement, CIGA Design wanted to put forth the best experience possible at this price and I think they achieved it. Considering my personal experience, it’s not a surprise that Series Z won a German Design Award in 2020.
As far as wearability, the watch was quite comfortable to wear, especially on the silicone strap. It did stand a bit tall on my wrist which is something I’m not completely accustomed to, but I know that the bulkier, slightly oversized look is inherent to sports watches such as this one. That being said, I’d only wear this in the most casual of settings as I have other timepieces that would be a better fit for formal occasions.
All in all, if you find the Series Z attractive on paper, I’m sure you’ll be satisfied once it’s on your wrist. And given the current price point of $259, I highly doubt you’ll be able to find this look, manufactured at this level of quality and with as much attention to detail, with any other brand at all.