Axia Kairos

Review and photos by Mike Razak

This is a review of the Axia Kairos. The offering is thus: a time-and-date high-polish dress watch with modest proportions. And I’m going to get into the review in a second, but I first want to talk about microbrand dress watches—or the lack thereof.

Axia Kairos


The modern dress watch is a peculiar beast. The current watch market is perhaps irretrievably saturated with divers—from big and small brands. But especially in the microbrand world, the default for any brand seems to be to enter the market with a diver and focus mostly on sports and tool watches thereafter. This market segment (non-fashion, high quality, affordable timepieces) is lacking any substantial dress watch presence. There are a few things behind this, as I see it. First, most people who buy a watch are buying one, maybe two watches, and they want as much versatility in those watches as possible; a high-polish, time-only watch doesn’t do much there. And it’s hard to justify spending what many would consider a large sum on a watch you anticipate only wearing a few days a month, if that. On the business side, the consumer reluctance means it’s far less likely that a dress watch will make its money back, so a new brand operating on tiny margins may not feel safe dedicating capital to such a timepiece. And let’s face it, the world seems to be getting more casual, not more formal. There are people [read: monsters] who would wear a Hublot with a tuxedo, for Christ’s sake.

Axia Kairos

Back to the Axia. The New Jersey-based brand has an assortment of non-tool watches, plus one diver. But their “thing” is that they offer university watches, wherein you can order any of their models with one of the Ivy League’s logos, and in some cases, the case and/or dial will be coordinated with the school’s colors. It’s a great idea for a graduation gift, or for die-hard fans of New England Academia. The Kairos is, in my not at all humble opinion, their best looking watch. Let me explain why in the next thousand or so words.

Axia Kairos

The 40mm case of the Axia Kairos is a simple 3 piece case wherein every surface is highly polished. A rounded fixed bezel sits atop the midcase, which features 20mm lugs with a polished chamfer. One of the few criticisms I had of the watch is this chamfer. It would’ve brought some life to an otherwise uniform case if it were lightly brushed—a fine grain to add a counterpoint to all the refinement. The lugs themselves are chopped off at the end, adding an oblique facet where many watches continue to complete the downward curve.

Axia Kairos

A subdued push-pull crown at 3 o’clock features the Axia logo and is easy to grip and operate (the watch has 50M of water resistance, certainly sufficient for this style). With modest dimensions (only 11.3mm thick and a lug-to-lug of 46mm) this watch is going to look at home on any but the very smallest and very largest wrists. As you can see, it sat perfectly on my 7" wrist.

Axia Kairos

The dial, seen through a slightly domed sapphire crystal, is the real prize here.  A deep sunray blue bursts from the center to add some soft texture to the dial (it's also available in black or silver, plus the university options). The polished, beveled hour markers and silver minute/second track sit on a raised level of the same blue. The Axia logo is applied at 12 o’clock and looks great. I could have done without a date window, but it’s inoffensive and the polished ring around it makes it more than just an afterthought. Polished alpha-style hands round out the dial; they are unlumed, which is appropriate for this style of watch.  In its totality, the dial is an exceptionally clean watch face with some extra character, allowing for some versatility to an otherwise dressy watch.

Axia Kairos

Flipping the watch over, a display caseback is fastened in by screws and shows of the decorated Sellita SW200 movement. You can’t go wrong with this ETA 2824 clone, and it’s a staple among microbrands seeking that “Swiss” moniker. The polished caseback is sparsely populated with watch details and the watches number of 500 units.

Axia Kairos

Finally, we come to the bracelet and strap options. On the site, the Kairos is shown with one of two bracelet options: oyster style or 5-link. Neither will cost you extra, though I also think neither look great. Dress watches look weird on bracelets. That’s what I’ve got to say about that. If anything, just get the bracelet so you have it as an option—they usually cost more to buy later, and you can always take it off and swap proper straps. I received my Kairos on a very comfortable brown leather strap with a butterfly clasp. The clasp made for easy sizing and less stress on the strap itself, meaning it will last a bit longer. Further, the watch paired well with multiple straps in my arsenal, as you can see.

Axia Kairos

While I’d put this watch squarely on the formal side of the Watch Style Spectrum™, there are places it diverges from the archetype of a classic dress watch: the date window, the minute track, the layered dial, the lug chamfer. They all serve to add a bit of pep to a typically staid watch style, and I'm a fan. At $649, the watch is priced at the high end of fair market value. However, right now they’re on sale for just $449, which is a great deal. If you’re in the market for a dress watch that has a bit more versatility than your Calatrava, the Axia Kairos may just be it for you. It’s available here, now.
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