A few months ago, when Chris was first introducing his upcoming watch company launch/flagship model release, I volunteered to take some pictures for him. When the renderings first came out, I got really excited because I loved the look of the watch. But the size and inevitable thickness of a chronograph turned me off quite a bit.
So when Chris emailed me last week to ask if I was still interested, I said yes, but, to be honest, I wasn't really looking forward to wearing one around for a few days. I thought I would look a bit like a clown.
I'm amazed and thrilled that he proved me wrong. This watch is fantastic. Let's get right down to it.
The quality of the watches was noticeable as soon as I picked up the package from the post office. The package, containing two watches on leather straps with no boxes, had a very pleasing heft to it.
The real treat came from opening it up. I know that I loved the blue dial in the renders, and that more blue dials will be made as that seemed to be the general consensus. But the smoky charcoal dial absolutely blew me away. It is incredibly hard to capture on photos, but the "black" is actually a very, very dark grey with a beautiful sunburst. The chrome rings all appear to have been polished, then finely brushed to a soft, satin finish that still reflects a ton of light. Almost prismatic, really. To me, the black is the winner here.
Upon putting the watch(es) on it was treated to a second, very pleasant, surprise. They actually fit really, really well on my (fairly well known) 6.5" wrist. I think it helped that the strap is 20mm, tapering to 18mm. This happens to be my favorite size (shared among all my watches) and it made the Riccardo feel right at home on my wrist. The thickness, while a bit much for anything overly formal, felt just fine too. It can't be more than a mm or two thicker than any of my Seikos.
Chris included in his emails a list of issues with the watch the factory needs to sort out before production starts. I'll try to address some of them as well as my thoughts on the matter.
CASE- The case is currently all polished. For production, it should be brushed with polished bezel, pushers, and curved bit of lug.
I actually love the polished case. With simple, clean lines and a definite retro flair, I think the all-polished case looks seriously good.
Crystal- Currently flat sapphire, should be domed with AR coating on the inside.
To each his own. I'm not sure I understand the obsession watch types have with domed crystal. I actually (greatly) prefer flat. But I have to agree that AR coating is awesome, even if I don't generally find it necessary to enjoy a watch.
Dial- Minute counter is split (oddly) into 36 segments. Should be 30 with every 5th marker being thicker/darker.
Obviously an issue, but interestingly enough not one that bothered me visually. Definitely makes the chronograph feature useless though.
Strap/Buckle- Straps will be more of a buffalo texture. Stitching on black strap needs to be brighter. Both feel a bit plasticky. Logo on buckle etched upside down.
All of these are definitely issues, though luckily none of them really impact the wearing of the watch. I agree on all counts though. As an aside, Chris did things properly with the strap. The buckle end is substantially shorter than the "long" end rather than nearly even. This lets those of us with small wrists get a good fit without the deployant digging in to the wrist or sticking out oddly. There are even small wrist friendly holes. I could have gone nearly an inch shorter on the strap!
This is a seriously nice watch. Honestly, I'd buy the production sample. You will be hard pressed to find a better value at the price Chris is bringing it at, barring the random stupidly good deal. Yes, some will complain about the lack of bracelet (a year ago I'd have been among them) and some will complain about only two subdials, or no date, or only a 30 minute counter, or any one of 100 other things.
The simple truth of it is that this is a very well made, very good looking watch at a very reasonable price. What more can you ask for?