I saw the “Watch It” show announced on Instagram, but due to me being based in London and the show falling at a particularily busy time for me family wise I was unable to attend.
So the first “Watch It” show, a spin off of the Watchitallabout watch blog, was held on November 9th in Rugby. The idea to being to offer an event for watch enthusiasts in the Midlands. And by all accounts was a great success. I am therefore pleased to have found a report of the event by the very amusing gentlemen from the Scottish Watch blog.
During this edition of the podcast there are some interesting short interviews/chats with a few of our favourite British brands (Pinion and Zero West) as well as several more I was less familiar with. Definitely worth a listen.
For a couple of months I have been the proud owner of a rare first series Pinion Atom, which are now no longer available. For those of you not familiar with the Atom, it is the first watch from Pinion to use a Japanese Miyota movement.
At £790, this watch offered a lower entry price than that usually associated with Pinion, whilst maintaining many of the qualities and design elements for which the brand has become known .
As the owner of a Pinion Pure Bronze I was very keen to compare the two watches.
Next to the Pure the obvious difference is the case material and size. The Atom having a 41mm bead blasted steel case. Then their is the movement, the Miyota 9015 being an automatic. The Atom case is slightly shorter than the Pure and has 20mm lugs rather than 22mm. Despite these differences the two watches are very clearly from the same parents. Which given the price difference is by no means a small achievement.
I am a big fan of manual movements, I am attracted to the apparent simplicity and the ritual of winding the watch in the morning. So initially hearing the movement of the automatic rotor in the Atom was a little disconcerting. I have seen other reviews mentioning this, but once I compared the Atom to other watches in my collection in particular a Seiko 5 it is fair to say “they all do it”.
The other difference to many of my watches is the date window. This is a feature I personally unnecessarily clutters the dial, as without the aid of glasses I am usually unable to read.
So getting these minor gripes over with I would like to cover the overall experience of living with the Atom. The dominant feature is clearly the beautifully finished black dial with a gillouched machined centre and the sword hands, This shape hands being a first from Pinion . The detailing belies the apparent simplicity of this field watch style dial, with numerals in the Pinion style and the two different levels of black. The small date window placed above the 6, the numerals of the date wheel also use the same Pinion font. Details that become evident if you give this watch more than a quick glance. Finally, for those with very good eyesight the word England appears beneath the six.
The 41mm bead blasted steel case that possibly represents a new direction for Pinion. The Atom being the first to feature bead blasting. This has now been followed by the Atom ND, and the recently announced TT (Twin Time). In my hands this finished has proved to be very resilient. I use this watch as my “doing things” watch and there are still now signs of scratches or blemishes of any kind. The lugs are the now almost standard 20mm which is a godsend for habitual strap swappers like myself, although I wondered whether a slightly larger 22mm might not have suited the watch a little better.
For anyone who dedicate less time to strap switching than me this watch was supplied with a lovely rugged brown leather strap with a neat looking branded buckle which rather than the more usual spring bars is attached with little screws.
Turning the watch over you find a solid case back. I have never been a fan of display backs, especially on tool watches. As you see the Atom case back is tastefully decorated with an Atomic design.
Then should you need any more convincing that this is a practical watch, instead of coming in a beautifully designed box, for which you have to find cupboard space for, it comes in a beautiful handmade watch roll.
I think Pinion have managed to pull off nicely the idea of a well designed and finished watch at a lower cost. It will be very interesting to see where this watch leads. As mentioned above we have already seen some indications of this direction with announcement of the TT and the short run of Atom NDs (No date).
The original batch of Pinion’s entry level watch should by now all be sold. For anyone that was not able to get hold of one all is not lost I recently received a newsletter announcing a release of a further 30 Atoms, These watches will differ slightly from the original principally by not having a date window. a feature that will not be missed by those of us who have difficulty in reading date windows on the vast majority of watches. As you will see the dial design will also be returning to the familiar Pinion use of only 12,3,6 and 9 numbers.
Whilst I am writing about this new watch I thought it might also be a great opportunity to reflect on my experiences with my original Atom.
This watch has now become my goto “doing things” watch. It enables me to wear a British watch in riskier situations than would feel comfortable with other watches. It has effectively taken the place of my Hamilton Khaki that previously filled that role. The Atom is suited to this use for several reasons. It has 10 ATM water resistance, the case is slim so less likely to be bashed and of course the bullet proof Miyota automatic movement. Japanese automatic movements have always given me the idea they can take more punishment than their European cousins.
For the summer and to increase the “doing things” suitability I have chosen to swap the really nice original strap with its great buckle with a variety of fabric straps. Although this strap is too nice not to return in the autumn.
Below is my current favorite, a green MN from Erika’s Originals, The elasticity and the absence of the need to “fold back” making these straps for me the “thinking man’s” nato.
With these comments I am maybe getting my blog entries in the wrong order, a proper review of the original Atom should have come first. Be sure I am onto it.
Just in case you cannot wait here are the essential details of the original Atom.
Automatic Japanese mechanical movement
Time in hours, minutes
Push in crown
Stainless steel case back, engraved
20mm Handmade leather strap ( in various options ).
Japanese Miyota 9015
Frequency: 28,800 vibrations per hour
Power reserve: 42 hours
Winding: Automatic / self-winding
Case: 316L Stainless steel, matt bead-blasted finish
Glass: Sapphire, convex with anti-reflective coating on the inside
My posts have been a little infrequent of late. This is broadly as a consequence of real work, tax returns and another holiday. To try and put this right and buy myself a little time to write my next review I thought I would share my latest horological discovery – the “time4apint”podcast. Chris Mann produces these charming little chats on what seems like a monthly basis. They are an excellent way to pass a little dead time waiting for trains and other idle moments.
In particular and the most pertinent to the British theme of this blog was podcast 39 that was published last week, entitled “Jonathan’s Modern British watches” in which Chris discusses with collector Jonathan Hughes some of his watches. A Schofield, a Pinion, a CWC and a Bremont.
You can listen to it yourself following this link :
After what seems a relatively quiet time in terms of news from Pinion, Piers Berry has made several announcements recently.
The most imminent being the availability of the “new entry point to the Pinion family” the Atom.
The Atom inherits all of the design and production qualities seen in the previous watches in the Pinion collection, but priced at £790 (£658.33 ex.VAT).
The Atom is sized at 41mm diameter, with a slim height of 11mm and is encased in 316L stainless steel with a bead-blasted finish.
The design of the dial follows the graphic code established by earlier models and presents typographic numerals in white, coated with SuperLuminova and contrasting radium colouring. The watch is water resistant to 100-metres.
Unlike all other Pinion watches, the Atom uses the Japanese automatic calibre (Miyota 9015) which provides accurate timekeeping and a 42-hour power reserve. The reverse of the watch features a solid steel case back that is engraved with the Atom motif and individually numbered.
The Atom is built and tested in England. The watch is available from the Pinion website http://www.pinionwatches.com
Then coming later in the year will be a watch in a new material for Pinion; the TT their first watch in titanium which almost halves the weight of the case when compared to the steel models.
Weight aside the TT has the familiar design elements of the Pinion range, as you can see on this prototype above. A brushed finish 42mm case with an exhibition back. Offering 10 atm (100 meters) water resistance.
The movement inside being an ETA 2893-2 with a 24 hour hand (second time zone /GMT). The first GMT from Pinion. I am really looking forward to see the final version.
Then this week came the very interesting announcement. Pinion will return to offering bronze watches. After launching the Pinion brand in 2013 with bronze watches at the core of his range Piers judged that bronze was becoming too mainstream and decided not to offer them anymore. He has had a re-think, done a survey of friends and clients and decided to return to bronze in 2018 with a re-worked Axis II automatic. The interesting he will this time use a bronze, rather than steel, crown. This I remember being a point of discussion, personally originally thought a bronze crown was the the best fit, now after a year with my Pure bronze I am a big fan of the steel crown. I find it links visually very well with the hands and strap fittings. I will reserve final judgement until I have seen the new version.
2018 looks like another interesting year for Pinion.
I don’t think last week was officially know as “watch week” but that is how it turned out for me, a few events growing out of the Salon QP.
Although maybe “week” might not be quiet the right definition as for me everything started mid-October when I met Nicholas Bowman-Scargill for a catch-up. We had first met a year earlier, before he re-launched the Fears brand at the Salon QP 2016. Nicholas told me all about his first year and the three new watches he would be announcing at this years show. He revealed these in order of significance. The first being an additional colour to the existing Redcliff range this time a pretty striking Passport Red.
Next I was expecting a “mechanical Redcliff”, which seemed to be the obvious development. But no, the next watch Nicholas showed me was the quartz Redcliff Continental. The Continental version has a window just the “6” position enabling the wearer to display a second time zone. A very useful feature for international travellers or people with far flung families.
Then came the news I had been expecting the Fears mechanical watch, not however as I was imagining a Redcliff but a completely new watch – the Brunswick the first mechanical watch for the new Fears.
At this time Nicholas was only able to show me a drawing of the watch as the prototype had yet been delivered. The finished watch was due to be shown at the Watchmakers Club evening before the Salon QP. I will dedicate a post to this interesting new watch.
This brings me to the start of “Watch Week”; the first event being the Watchmaker’s Club “Night Before” evening in a private club in London on Wednesday. The Watchmakers Club is a new platform, intended to bring watch collectors and industry experts together via intimate, exclusive events and regular social gatherings. The team behind this unique organisation consists of watchmakers, independent brands, industry influencers and journalists.
It all started in 2012, Andreas Strehler exhibited for the first time at SalonQP in London. On the night before the opening of SalonQP, he invited a few friends and watch enthusiasts to share a drink, talk about watches and the world in general. The idea of The Night Before was born.
On the first evening only a handful of what would become a band of friends showed up at the Lansdowne Club in Mayfair. Over the years, The Night Before became an institution: A gathering of interesting people interested in the world of watches and as the guest list began to grow the Lansdowne Club became too small to host the event.
This year the event was held at The Libary in St Martins Lane. There were two sections, one of which, upstairs, was dedicated the British brands, Fears, Garrick and Pinion. It was a great opportunity firstly to see the Fears Brunswick and Pinions new Atom finally in the metal.
The Atom doesn’t disappoint at all. As you can see the design clearly says, Pinion. As we have come to expect, Piers presented a really nice well built watch. Differently to previous Pinions you first notice the slimmer (11mm) steel case, made possible by the use of the Japanese Miyota 9105 automatic movement. Using this movement also enables Pinion to offer a watch at a much lower price point than we are used to from this brand, £790. It will be very interesting to see how this bet goes.
After Fears and Pinion I managed to squeeze through to the table where Garrick’s Simon Michlmayr was displaying their watches, I was especially keen to see the new S1. This watch is built by master watchmaker, Craig Baird, and finished entirely by hand. This is Garrick’s most complicated timepiece to date, featuring a skeletonised dial and incorporating a power reserve indicator. Only five S1 timepieces will be made per annum.
Unfortunately due lack of space and light I couldn’t get a really decent picture so to give an idea of how the watch is I have taken this picture from Garrick website.
Giles Ellis of Schofield was also present that night along with Simon Cudd, of Schofield + Cudd straps, neither was displaying their products other than those they were wearing. I did manage a dingy peek at Schofield latest watch – the Telemark.
All in all it was a very pleasant evening but being a “school night” I thought it wise to make my way home.
After “the Night Before” comes the actual night- the first evening of this years Salon QP. The big difference between the two evenings was the lighting.
I managed to say hello again to Simon Michlmayr and to get a shot of the Garrick range.
I then found the two British stands together firstly, the Fears Departure lounge that was proving very popular with the new Brunswick attracting a great deal of praise. Then next door Schofield overseen by Giles Ellis himself and Simon Cudd with his straps. Again thanks to better light I managed to get some more useful pictures.
After visiting the Brits I went a little of topic and had quick chat with two brands that I have admired for a while Habring from Austria and Switzerlands Czapek both really nice and like everyone super enthusiastic about their work.
On Saturday I visited the Salon again this time with my sons, in the hope of planting the seed of an interest in watches early. They were very impressed by the chocolate offered at the Fears Departure lounge.
If you have been reading some of my previous posts or maybe seen my Instagram stream, you will know I have a Bronze Pinion Axis Pure LE for which I been giving updates on the development of the famous “bronze patina”.
Anyway slowly slowly the case of my watch has been getting darker and I have been quiet pleased with the result.
Having read about and seen the drastic effect contact with sea water can have with bronze , some examples I have seen such as some bronze Panerais or the Oris diver of which have gone pretty extreme. I was interested and slightly concerned how my watch would react to my two weeks in Sicily.
Before I show you the effects of seawater I must say the Axis Pure with a couple of Nato straps works out as a pretty good holiday watch. It is water resistant to at least 100m which avoids worrying about swimming. It is tough and any knocks it might take can only enhance its “lived in” look. Finally you don’t have that worry of it attracting the undesirable attention, some more famous Swiss brands get, from street criminals. With the bronze version you get the added interest of how the case will react to different environments like the chlorine of the swimming pool to salt water of the sea.
The conclusion is chlorine seems to have the effect of slightly brightening the metal whilst the sea is the most fun.
The photos above and below where taken after the watch had been in the sea for an hour.
My first thoughts were “wow, that looks pretty cool” quickly moved on to “will that come off?” Now I was pretty confident there are ways to bring the watch back to its original finish but I did not want to return to the “as new look` – fortunately with a bit of a rub you can bring the watch back to whatever level of patina you like.
My next experiment will be to leave the watch a little longer before taking it back to normal.
Pinion still have a few of the Bronze watches left and they are now available a special price here
As I am sure you will have noticed I like the watches from British watch brand Pinion. I was therefore really pleased to receive an e-mail announcing their new watch, the Atom.
Rather than wait to get hold of an example I thought I should get the news out as soon as possible, so this is what Piers the owner and designer of Pinion watches says about this new model.
The Atom inherits all of the design and production qualities seen in the previous collection of watches, but priced at £790 (£658.33 ex.VAT) signals it as the new entry-point to the Pinion family.
Like the Axis II and Pure before it, the Atom is sized at 42mm diameter, (but slimmer in height at 11mm) and is encased in 316L stainless steel with a bead-blasted finish.
Central to the watch, is the dial, coloured black in a smooth satin finish, it features a dominant inner raised level, textured with a geometric machining. The design of the dial follows our graphic code established by previous models and presents typographic numerals in white, coated with SuperLuminova and contrasting radium colouring. For durability, the watch is water resistant to 100-metres depth.
In a new move for Pinion, the Atom utilises the Japanese automatic winding calibre (Miyota 9015) which provides accurate timekeeping and a 42-hour power reserve. The reverse of the watch features a solid steel case back that is engraved with the Atom motif and individually numbered.
As with all of our watches, the Atom is built and tested in England and comes with a hand-made leather strap, leather and canvas watch roll plus international two-year warranty.
When Piers first mentioned the price I was a little incredulous given the price point of other watches in the range, you might notice in my earlier post mentioning this launch I mentioned a price of circa £800.
I am really looking forward to seeing this watch in the metal. I really hope it gives Pinion the sales lift they deserve.
An entry level three hander with a bead blasted case, citizen movement . Although the design is different to the Axis II it will carry lots of detail and value for the watch as case, crown components, dial very high quality and built in the UK.
No detail of a release date yet but they should be priced at the great price of under £800