Revolutionise Your Horological Game: Going Hands-on With The Show-stopping Alexander Shorokhoff Levels
Editor’s Note: We recently got the opportunity to acquire the Alexander Shorokhoff Levels AS.DT03-3 timepiece courtesy of the brand. Here’s our honest two-weeks-on-the-wrist hands-on review of a timepiece I am pleased to say surprisingly my wife has stolen from me and now it’s become her go-to piece these days. Surprising because at 46.5mm, Levels is not exactly a ladies watch. But a stunning watch it is…
In A Nutshell
The Alexander Shorokhoff Levels features a 46.5mm diameter and 12.5mm thick stainless steel case that houses two very distinctive features: the dial with ‘four’ levels and the presence of a rather rare way of including the GMT complication, that is, with two separate automatic movements. The hand-engraved and refined calibre 2671.AS (derived from the trustworthy and reliable namesake ETA movement) provides for a decent 42-hour power reserve and the case features a daily-wearable 50m water-resistance. But these specs fade when in the presence of the multi-levelled dial that steals the show.
As a package, retailing for only $6’050 AUD, the AS Levels is an unbelievable deal. And the blue dial with guilloché and azurage textures sets the scene for the Alexander Shorokhoff masterstroke.
Limited to only 99 pieces, the Levels is a timepiece that presents the world with a completely different level of horological showmanship.
The Unboxing and The Brand
We recently reviewed the Alexander Shorokhoff Kandy Avantgarde 2 ref. AS.KD-AVG-2 and spoke about the unboxing experience in detail. You can read about it here, but briefly, similar to the Kandy, the Levels timepiece is presented in a packaging that speaks volumes about the brand’s commitment to create both luxurious and unique experiences. The Levels comes inside a high-gloss black lacquered wooden box case with the branding, logo and colourful tagline. This package is further nestled inside a black cardboard box.
In regards to the brand itself, again, we have spoken about it in detail here, but for those who may not know much about them, they are a 25-year old independent Russian-German luxury watch manufacturer that create avant-garde timepieces. They have three collections at the core, Vintage, Heritage, and Avantgarde, and the timepiece we are reviewing today is part of the latter collection. They also do bespoke timepieces and are the recipients of many design awards and accolades.
Love At First Sight
Stepping up the horological game by offering a unique watch with 2 time zones and many levels are Alexander Shorokhoff.
My first impression was simply of being left speechless – you gotta understand, for around 6k AUD, this amount of quirkiness and excellent finishing is something that dreams are made of, not reality. To see the Alexander Shorokhoff Levels in person in an experience in itself. There is so much going on with the dial, and yet, it is legible to the degree of crime.
Film Director Derek Jarman once said: “Blue is the universal love in which man bathes — it is the terrestrial paradise”.
This could not be more true in the case of this particular version of Levels. These watches come in four (coloured) variations, petrol-blue, grey, brown and silver, and this petrol-blue version we are looking at today, is simply evocative of the richness of mysterious blue waters.
The dial is like ripples in a blue lake, testing the time, a drop ticking second by second.
I realise that the dial is the star here, but frankly, the first thing you notice is the complementary pairing of this blue dial with the brown ostrich leather strap. This albeit large ostrich leather (24mm inter-horn lug spaced) strap is one of the most comfortable, soft and supple leather straps I have ever seen or worn. It is simply a beauty, feels ‘broken-in’ from the start, and is just very, very comfortable.
The next aspect that grabs my attention is the combination of various dial features, especially the circular and semicircular red gold-plated applications. The brand describes these as “rose gold-plated ‘skyscrapers’ built on a guilloched ‘basement’”, but given the texture and colour of the blue engine-turned dial, I find the dial to be reminiscent of bridges over waterways.
In-fact, my gut reaction was to place minute cars on the rose-golf plated bridges and see them drive through this wonderful maze. Perhaps Alexander Shorokhoff can come up with an automated version of this, something along the lines of what Jaquet Droz offers. The dial not only is wonderful as it is, but it also has the potential to give way to a whole new world of horological discovery.
There is just so much going on here that it’s impossible not to fall in love with it the moment you set your eyes on it.
A Just Nomenclature
The watch “Levels” gets its name from the different levels of the dial. The brand says that there are four levels to this dial, though I reckon there are five, counting the monocle style date-window magnifying glass.
Level one is at 4’o clock which represents the home time featuring an azurage sub-dial with an added sun-ray pattern marking ‘Home Time’ on the dial.
Level two is the GMT location at 10’o clock, again featuring the same concentric circles.
Level three is the first ‘bridge’ with the “Alexander Shorokhoff” branding at the top of the dial, and the fourth level showcases the second ‘bridge’ at the bottom of the dial with the texts “Limited Edition” and “Made in Germany”.
Finally, the fifth level has the magnifying glass impressively built-in directly into the sapphire front glass that covers this magical composition.
The most impressive part is that all the levels are of differing height, so not only is the dial three-dimensional on its horizontal plane, but also on its vertical axis.
Also, as we will see a bit later on, even the case is not one big monolith but is comprised of subtle levels as well.
“I never get tired of the blue sky,” said Vincent Van Gogh.
The beauty of the Alexander Shorokhoff Levels best reveals itself when the timepiece is touched by natural light. The sunnier, the better. As the strokes of the sun caress the guilloched dial, one witnesses the various nuances of the dial, immersing in the never tiring world of these gorgeous blue strokes.
The wave-shaped spiralling blue guilloche is of-course very prominent, but look a bit closer and the concentric-circles of the two time-zone sub-dials begin to shimmer under changing light. One hasn’t even had the time to pause marvelling at this and take a breather when the eyes get set on the multi-coloured stripe in the middle that complements the similar coloured globe-map at 10’o clock.
This use of an indefinite form stripe lends the Levels with an unmistakable Alexander Shorokhoff-esque design language, one that I found quite adoring in the form of the Kandy timepiece.
Talking about unmistakable AS design language, the Levels also retains the stereotypical ’60’ at 12’ clock of the home time sub-dial. The curly, quirky seconds hand is yet another talking point, and if you observe, has different coloured yellow and orange end tips.
In my opinion, details like this that transcend the entire collection further help elevate the brand’s status as a formidable manufacturer.
The Levels is a serious piece of watchmaking, but the brand has managed to enthuse it with a sense of quirkiness and delightful bursts of colour that will set this timepiece apart at any watch get-together or inside any watch collection box.
Author Munia Khan wrote that “let the blue of the sky and ocean take your blue away when you feel blue”. Something I have realised owning and wearing Alexander Shorokhoff timepieces is that due to their designs and use of colour, it is rather impossible to feel sad. No matter how stressful life was otherwise in the past few weeks, every time I looked at these watches, I couldn’t help but smile. I know this is more of a personal revelation, but in today’s high-paced, stressful life, these timepieces are a welcome breath of fresh air.
Let’s address the elephant in the room before we wrap this review up, the 46.45mm case diameter. It’s big. Especially when it comes to our team’s wrist sizes, which essentially read 15 and a bit to 16cm. Now for those who have larger wrists, the Levels is a no-brainer. It is an excellent offering that unlike many conventionally extra-large watches, has a distinct personality of its own.
In the case of those with slimmer wrists like us, the 46.5mm can be mammoth. My personal sweet spot is 39mm. But here lies the take-away: it works well on my wrist. The reason: lug design and dial power.
Lug & Case Design
The lugs are quite short and tapered, not adding much more to the dimensions of the watch. The overall lug-to-lug comes to only ~53mm. This is pretty doable for a majority of wrist sizes. The relatively thin 12.5mm thick case also assists in making this a more wearable watch.
Plus, the way the case has been structured and layered, it helps to bring the size a bit down visually: looking from the top, there is a top layer of raised sapphire crystal housing the blue dial that measures in at ~41mm, below which is first bezel layer measuring ~42mm, below which is the second, stepped down bezel layer measuring ~44.5mm. Additionally, the case side is brushed whereas the top casing, bezels, and lugs are polished, and the way the light shines, at least to my eyes, makes the watch wear smaller.
The Dial Power
American poet Audre Lorde once said: “Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat”. The Levels follows this dictum; the dial may have a lot of contradicting elements — 3 different guilloche patterns, 5 levels, about a dozen colours, different style of hands — but credit to the designer that they all operate in harmony, keeping the timepiece legible.
In terms of sizing, the gold-plated ‘bridges’ add a certain visual nuance, driving the gaze onto them, and as a by-product, making the dial seem even smaller.
Besides, the dial of the AS Levels is genuine work of art, and one that requires a large canvas to showcase its beauty. I know 46.6mm is large but besides maybe reducing it by mm or two, I don’t see the point; the various nuances on the dial need space to breathe to ensure legibility. The thing is, once the watch is strapped on the wrist, owing to smaller lugs and a very comfortable strap, it doesn’t feel overbearing. True, it’s theoretically big for slimmer wrists you can tell from the pictures, but the dial is so attention-grabbing that the size becomes irrelevant. Herein lies the true beauty of the timepiece.
Long story short, you wish to have a genuine conversation starter of a timepiece, wear the Alexander Shorokhoff Levels. And if this doesn’t convince you, here’s a personal fact: my wife, and our photographer, despite having slimmer wrists than mine, has already ‘stolen’ this watch from me.
She is someone who wears maximum 36mm watches but the charm of the AS Levels has been the one exception on her watch box. And yes, it is one of those watches that have in the past two weeks we have had it for, has gotten her the most compliments from strangers out and about.
Needle In A Haystack
Usually, when I undertake reviews, I like to paint the landscape and compare watches to place them in some context. And similar to my experience while reviewing the Kandy, I was again hard-pressed to find similar watches to the Levels.
A few do ring a bell:
- The Armin Strom Masterpiece 1 Dual Time features two separate movements and is a horological masterpiece in its own right, but retails for a whopping $425’000 AUD
- Similar to the Armin Strom offering is the F.P. Journe Chronomètre à Résonance with 2 x linear escapements. But again, it is a completely different timepiece, being perhaps the only watch that features acoustic resonance. It also retails for a price-tag nowhere near the AS Levels
- Talking about F.P. Journe, a homage watch called the Joshua & Sons Stainless Steel JS-05-10 Moon Phase Automatic comes to mind; it features two separate automatic movements but neither do I have experience with the brand nor as far as I know these are luxury or expensive watches. Still, talking about two-movement watches, these have existed at some point
- While we are on cheaper watches, Diesel makes them by the dozen, with the Diesel Mr Daddy 2.0 multi-movement being one of them. Spoiler alert: these are quartz watches
- Another dual-movement watch that comes to mind and one that somewhat in price and finishing compares to the Alexander Shorokhoff Levels are the Hamilton Jazzmaster Face 2 Face watches
- The Glycine Airman 7 is another well-known offering and makes use of the same dual movements, the calibre ETA 2671, but features an even larger 53mm diameter. There is another niche watch brand called Bernard Richards Manufacture or BRM watches, and they in the past have offered some watches with dual movements as well. Alain Silberstein Karavan Moon watch also features dual movements, the ETA calibre 2671 and 2678 if I am not wrong
Watches or brands that use two mechanical movements in one dial are far in-between. It’s not like they don’t exist as we can see from the above examples but compared to say dive watches, are very rare indeed. The Alexander Shorokhoff Levels stands out because not only just a few hand-picked brands feature automatic watches with two movements, but also because the combination of quality control, the level of finishings, the quirky and immediately identifiable design language, and the presence of a dial with multiple guilloche patterns is simply like finding a needle in a haystack.
French actress Emmanuelle Beart said that “usually, when people say you are beautiful, it is when there is a harmony between the inside and the outside.” The Alexander Shorokhoff Levels achieves that beautiful state by combining the outside beauty of the dial with a trustworthy and hand-engraved movement that ticks to satisfaction on the inside.
Just like the modifications found in the Kandy models, the calibre 2671.AS used in the ref. AS.DT03-3 most strikingly features a hand-engraved and refined rotor. The ETA calibre 2671 by default is a smaller 17.2mm diameter and 4.8mm thick movement that is comprised of 25 jewels, beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’000 vph) and (normally) features a 38 to 42-hour power reserve. The 2671.AS features a 42-hour power reserve. Owing to the small diameter, it is often used in ladies watches and features a rate small date display. The latter makes it a good reason for Alexander Shorokhoff to include a magnifying lens on the date window aperture.
The Alexander Shorokhoff Levels is a GMT watch in theory, and instead of featuring the usual bezel and a fourth GMT hand, makes use of two ETA 2671 derived movements.
The benefit of this besides the unique design is that in standard worldtimer (or GMT watches), lots of timezones that lie on 30-min or 15-minute gaps cannot be calculated, For instance, Delhi is not calculated by the majority of watches.
Time To Buckle Up
Allow me to wrap this review of one of the ‘most-fun’ timepieces I have in my collection by again referencing author Munia Khan: “You can never be lost when you learn to get lost into the blue of the sea…”
The dial of the Alexander Shorokhoff Levels evoking the blues of the vast oceans is simply a wonderland of emotional and horological amazement. Besides the slightly large size, I can’t fault anything with theses watches, and that’s rare for me. And even the size part is highly subjective.
Lots of watches do not photograph well, but this was a breeze. My photographer’s exact words were “gorgeous” and “so tastefully done”. She also found the presence of two “cute-little” movements rather alluring.
The texture of the waves guilloche is ‘smooth’ and ‘soft’, like layers of butter, and is really pleasing to look at. The fan, sun-ray pattern really highlights the home time sub-dial, making it instantly recognisable and readable. That applied strip of random colours when matched to the earth design adds volumes to the dial, by enthusing life to the ‘water-ways’ and the ‘bridges’ on the dial. The presence of two different colours of lume on the four hour and minutes hands further brings in a sense of colour play even under dark lighting. Everything works so nicely even though there are a plethora of different elements; the dial as a whole evokes a sense of being ‘alive’, an almost kinetic world of elegance that sparks emotions.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man,” said the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. Every time you gaze at the dial of the Alexander Shorokhoff Levels, you discover a new element to marvel at; it’s not the same blue ‘waters’ you witnessed earlier. That is the charm of the Levels.
And for a GMT or dual time watch, personally, having time zones right on the main dial without the need for calculating is a genuinely nice travel hack. It’s time to buckle up and take your senses for an exciting ride with the show-stopping Alexander Shorokhoff Levels.
To find out more about the Kandy and other Alexander Shorokhoff watches, please head to their website here. You can also check the entire Levels collection here. The AS timepieces come with a 14-Days Return Policy and a 24-Month Warranty. All images are ©Watch Ya Gonna Do About It unless otherwise stated. If you liked this, be sure to check out our Kandy Avantgarde 2 review here. We would like to thank Inga Duffy-Shorokhova and the rest of the Alexander Shorokhoff team for assisting with this review.