The latest crowdfunded maker of affordable dive watches, Horizon Watches was founded by a veteran of the micro-brand scene, Fred Bekher, a designer who has penned dozens of watches for horological startups. Mr Bekher’s first design for his own brand is the Nautilus, a dive watch with an Art Deco-meets-steampunk aesthetic.
Though the model name sounds like something else, it takes inspiration from literature, specifically the submariner commanded by Caption Nemo from Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. “While I was reading [the novel] as a child, I would imagine how the Nautilus looked like”, Mr Bekher says of his love for sci-fi and the steampunk world of Verne’s works.
The model name aside, the Nautilus is an original design – it manages not to look like anything else – which is an achievement in the space of affordable dive watches. It’s also thought in form, something that’s evident in the dial and case construction, notable for a watch that starts at US$350.
And the design is appealing, most notably the Art Deco font and the smartly-disguised date. And smart it is: the date window is sized identically to the hour markers, while the date disc is entirely “lumed”, so it glows just like an hour marker.
That said, some details do inevitably call to mind other, more famous dive watches, namely the Breguet Marine in terms of the dial and the Blancpain Fifty-Fathoms for the bezel, but as a whole the Nautilus passes the design test.
The case is large at 42 mm, though that’s not excessive for a dive watch. Despite the size, the watch will look fairly compact on the wrist, thanks to a lug-to-lug span of just 47 mm. And the wide bezel helps, since it results in a smaller dial, which itself appears even smaller with the wide chapter ring.
Starting at US$349 in steel and rising to US$419 for bronze, the Nautilus is attractively priced, at least during the crowdfunding phase, where prices are 45% lower than the projected retail price.
Finally, the watches pictured are prototypes, and the final product will be slightly different. For one, the dial will do away with “Nautilus”, and instead just have a large “N”, in order to avoid any trademark issues. At the same time, the depth rating will be replaced by “Mobilis in Mobile“, the motto of the Captain Nemo’s vessel.
The Nautilus is available in four versions, two each in steel and bronze, with all four having a distinct dial. Regardless of the material, all four share the same case with a case back bearing a relief rendering of a hardhat diver reaching for a copy of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
The case looks quite different as compared to the typical vintage-inspired dive watch, and it is surprisingly complex. For instance, the bezel and the inner segment of the lugs are actually one piece – a construction also found on the Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 – that is screwed into the case.
And inside the case is a Seiko NH35, a solid, entry-level automatic movement that’s almost identical to the 4R35 that Seiko uses in its own watches. It’s robust and does the job without fuss.
There are two dial finished on offer, but both have a good degree of detail. The dial is separated into two sections, with the grained centre circled by a chapter ring that’s concentrically brushed. And particularly charming is the font for the Arabic numerals that’s matched with a unconventional take on the railway minute track.
The steel models are fitted with a blue-green or “salmon” dial, with the former being the most popular version on Kickstarter, though I personally prefer the latter.
There’s also two bronze models that are available with either a green or burgundy dial. The green-and-gold pairing is a natural fit, but the burgundy version is striking and unusual.
Being priced slightly higher, the bronze version has a more elaborate dial that has its centre engraved with a wave pattern. And the hour markers are done slightly differently for the bronze model, instead of a raised rim around the lume filling, the markers are filled and then polished to leave the lume flush with the rim.
Key facts and price
Horizon Watches Nautilus
Diameter: 42 mm
Height: 14.2 mm
Material: Steel or bronze
Water resistance: 300 m
Movement: Seiko NH35
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 21,600 beats per hour (3 Hz)
Power reserve: 41 hours
Strap: Rubber with pin buckle
Limited edition: No
Availability: Now at on kickstarter.com until 12 pm GMT on October 15; delivery in April 2022
Steel – US$349; or 475 Singapore dollars
Bronze with steel bezel insert – US$379; or 515 Singapore dollars
Bronze with matching bezel insert – US$419; or 570 Singapore dollars
For more, visit horizon-watches.com.
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