I don't think it's any secret that I like NTH watches. In my humble opinion, the brand's creator Chris Vail has found a winning formula here. I've said it in these pages when I reviewed the first line of Subs last July and the new Tropics series in December, and put my money where my mouth was when I purchased an Amphion Vintage for myself. I'm a fan, so when I learned that a second round of Subs was on its way, I had to get an early look. Chris sent me two prototypes for this hands-on review.
There are five new variants in this release including the Tudor-inspired Nacken Modern Blue, the tastefully aged Amphion Vintage Blue, and the full lume dial Santa Fe, as well as the brown Barracuda and the Rolex Mil-Sub styled Amphion Dark Gilt featured here. Because I have already written a full-on review of the Subs line, I won't repeat it all here, but I will hit the highlights. NTH watches are modern interpretations of vintage designs, and what I find so appealing is that Chris has found ways to refresh classic looks without ruining the very qualities that made the originals so appealing.
First and foremost, they are the proper size. Watches were smaller in the 1950's and 60's than they are today. Times change, and right now large cases are the norm. While I don't expect manufacturers to start turning out 36mm tool watches again, I also don't believe every diving watch has to be 42-44mm wide and fat as a tuna can. There is something to be said for restraint.
The Subs are 40mm wide, just like the classic Rolex and Tudor Submariners. Better still, they are only 48mm long and 11.5mm thick. A fine, polished bevel running lug-to-lug breaks up the brushed surface and accentuates the case's length, making it appear even slimmer. The lean profile maintains the sleek proportions of a mid-century watch. It is an impressive feat made all the more so because of its 300m water resistance rating. A double-domed, anti-reflective sapphire crystal and a 120-click, unidirectional bezel with an engraved steel insert caps off the case. Inside is a Miyota 9015, a popular 24-jewel automatic movement with a smooth 28.8k bph sweep.
A broad screw-down crown offers ample grip without unbalancing the proportions. It is coin edged, signed, and lumed. This last feature is a signature NTH touch shared with few other watches. I can't think of any practical benefit to crown lume, but I dig it anyway.
The Amphion Dark Gilt features a black dial with applied gold markers, second hand, and sword hands. The 4:30 date window is optional and it is the only model in the new line-up to offer that choice. A gold minute track, logo and water resistance text keep things appropriately muted as does the greenish-white C3 SuperLuminova, particularly when compared to the brighter blue-white BWG9 used on the bezel. Red model name text and a red triangle on the bezel offer a nod to the 1960's military watches that inspired this model.
The Barracuda also goes for gold hands and markings, but in more of a classic Tudor style with snowflake hands. The dial is a rich brown that reveals red-gold undertones when the sunray dial catches the light. The color is cooler and flatter on the bezel, which lacks the dial's warm shimmer, but it is very closely matched, if not as lively. C3 graces the dial, hands, and bezel on this watch and I think it was an excellent choice. I like brown watches but have always found the brown and yellow combination commonly associated with "root beer" Rolexes to be kind of off-putting. The mellow white color on the Barracuda is far more pleasing to my eye.
The watches arrive on 20mm bracelets with solid end links and signed flip-lock clasps. I hate sizing bracelets but the NTH units are particularly user-friendly: threaded pins have a single screw head, obviating the need for any twin-tool acrobatics, while a pair of half-sized links and micro adjustments on the clasp allow for fine tuning. Drilled lugs facilitate removal.
As I expected, the new NTH Subs are every bit as good as the first batch and a very easy recommendation. These are cleverly crafted watches, and with pre-order prices starting at $500, they punch well above their weight. As far as I'm concerned, the question is not whether you should buy one, but which one should you buy. Given the wide range of colors and styles, I suspect this won't be a problem. Pre-orders start Monday, April 17 at JanisTrading.com. Be sure to use code TIMEBUM for $25 off. ⬩