James Caird Timepieces is a brand new micro brand out of Richmond, Virginia. Named after a heroic member of Earnest Shackleton's 1915 Antarctic expedition, the company has set out to create the one watch you can wear everywhere, for everything. Long time readers know that I don't embrace this notion (I have been accused of having a watch for every whim) but the Endurance comes mighty close. They provided a black dial, brushed case prototype for this evaluation.
So let's see, what do you need in a watch that is suitable for every occasion? For starters, it has to be ready for anything, rain or shine, so it can't be delicate. The Endurance sizes this mandate with its very name and delivers a screw down crown and case back sealed for 200m. The flat sapphire crystal with internal anti-reflective coating will fend off most knocks and remain scratch free. Screwed in lug bars will keep it firmly on its strap, although at the cost of some strap swapping convenience.
Speaking of straps, the watch comes standard with a very nice 22mm nylon NATO. In many respects, this is a good choice. It's waterproof, comfortable, easily swappable, and keeps the cost down. The only drawback is that pass through straps are strictly casual. A dressier occasion will require a strap swap. This is hardly a crisis for most watch nerds, but in my opinion, a real all 'rounder must have a bracelet. Call me a snob, but a stainless steel bracelet is the only option that functions properly underwater and still looks right with a suit. Is it a deal breaker? Not so much, but it's worth mentioning.
Your only watch must also function for professional or formal occasions too, so it can't be too big. I recognize that not everyone is the same size or shares the same taste, but you can't just show up at a state funeral with a honking great clock dangling off your wrist. There are limits. For most people, the Endurance's 42mm wide, 48mm long, stainless steel case will be just right. Its 13mm thickness leans a bit closer to the tool watch side of things, but not so much as to make it inappropriately chunky. I found it struck a nice balance between presence and restraint. Buyers may choose a brushed or polished finish. The lugs are sharp around the edges, but I did not find it uncomfortable.
There is a pretty good argument that a classic diving watch is the most versatile of all designs, a perception that no doubt traces its origin to the ubiquitous Rolex Submariner. The Endurance follows this line as well. It presents a simple, sober dial with the minute track printed on the rehaut. Polished, applied stick and triangle markers, and sword hands are filled with white C3 SuperLuminova. The text is limited to the brand name up top bisected by a small star, and the model, "Automatic", and water rating below, printed in a plain white serif font. It is not fancy or stylized, but it is still a welcome respite from the unbearably dull sans-serif so commonly used by micro brands. Dials are black, navy, or tobacco.
A 120-click timing bezel with an aluminum insert and raised lume pip completes the look. I liked its sculpted square teeth and the way they are mirrored on the signed crown. The crown's 4 o'clock position and that of the date window hint at the Seiko NH35 within. For an everything watch, the NH35 is a sensible choice: 24 jewels, 21.6k bph, 41-hour power reserve, hacking, and hand winding. As one might expect from Seiko, it is also reliable and inexpensive.
Overall, the James Caird Endurance ticks all the boxes. It is handsome, restrained, capable, and has some attractive detailing. It is a safe, conservative look that can go almost anywhere, and that may be my one criticism. It's too safe. There is just nothing that distinguishes it from the rest of the crowded dress-diver field. It is certainly attractive, but I fear it lacks a hook to draw in potential buyers and get them excited. A spot of color, an uncommon lume choice, or some other small flourish would have gone a long way to making it an appealing alternative to similar pieces from established juggernauts like Citizen and Seiko. Still, I must emphasize that this is a perfectly lovely watch. It's quietly attractive, but attractive nonetheless.
Finally, an every day for everything watch shouldn't cost an arm and a leg. James Caird nails it on price, listing the Endurance for $295 and offering 20% off for Kickstarter backers. The campaign launches in August. If you think you can live with just one watch, or more likely, if you want to add another solid performer to your collection, have a close look at the James Caird Endurance and sign up for alerts at jamescairdtimepices.com.
Pro: Good price, good looks.
Con: Sharp lugs, understated to a fault.