Akura Wayfarer

Review and photos by Mike Razak

“Wow.” That’s what I said, out loud, when I first took the Akura Wayfarer out of its box. I‘ve been getting more and more watches for review, I see them all the time at get together, and as you’d expect, it’s all that I see on Instagram (no #dogsofinstagram for me). But an honest-to-goodness, taken-aback “Wow.” is not a common reaction. But here I sit writing this review, having two days ago sent the watch on to its next set of eyes, and I’m still feeling the wow.

Akura Wayfarer wrist

A little background on this new brand, Akura Timepieces. While based in Dundee, Scotland, designer and brand owner Philipp Schönfisch pulled from his German roots for the brand’s name, which derives from the German “akkurat” (I won’t keep you guessing: it means “accurate”) He’s been fascinated by watches his entire life, starting with his grandfather’s Zenith and blossoming into his own watch problem 6 years ago. The Wayfarer is another part of that progression. He wanted a watch that offered the ruggedness of tool watches but with real design. He pulled from his own favorites: the Alpinist, the Royal Oak, the Ingenieur. He strove for something familiar at first glance, but almost entirely new upon closer inspection. The result? Wow.

Akura Wayfarer  side

Consider the 41mm diameter. Consider the 48.5mm lug-to-lug. Mull over the 316L steel. Ponder the 100m water resistance. Go ahead. But take a real moment to grasp the awesome power of a tool watch that’s only 10mm thick. One of the biggest issues with modern watches is that when they go bigger in one direction, they go bigger in most directions. Not the case (ha!) here, and we’re all better for it. The Wayfarer sits on the wrist as comfortably as your Livestrong bracelet that you stopped wearing after all that stuff about Lance Armstrong came out. The case shape itself is not much from the top—polished chamfers, brushed everything else, and unobtrusive 22mm lugs. But the side view shows an angularity and curvature that is at once rugged and refined, like James Bond with some tasteful stubble. The lugs themselves curve down, allowing for a better wrist hug (we all need a hug, sometimes), and the crowns are a design I’ve yet to see on a watch. They recall (to me) mill wheels, so we’ll call them mill wheel crowns. The screw-down 3 o’clock crown, which features the cardinal direction-inspired Akura logo, will adjust your date and time; the 4 o’clock crown, which features somewhat of the inverse of the logo, adjusts the internal rotating compass bezel. Flipping the watch over, you’ve got the obligatory text around a screw-down sapphire caseback, with the movement and custom rotor on full display. But now that it’s been mentioned, you’re probably stuck on the internal compass bezel. Let’s not tarry: time to discuss the dial.

Akura Wayfarer nato

The Akura’s dial could be described as complex, or busy (even Mr. Schönfisch used this word). But you shouldn’t. Complex implies a density that defies comprehension for some; busy suggests there is too much going on. Neither is the case here. The dial’s texture, depth, color, and patterns are synergistic, building to a greater whole. The watch comes in either grey, black, white, or red. Dial text is limited to the logo, brand, and model in white, as well as “Automatic” in teal. The main dial features sunken 5-minute markers that connect to an inner white ring. That white ring, which extends under the markers, is grooved with concentric circles for a near-hidden textured effect. The central dial features what I’d call a “digital wave” pattern. It’s subtle enough as to not distract and present enough as to catch the eye on occasion. At the periphery of the main dial is a teal seconds track with white brackets between the markers. Already we have three layers of dial, yet there’s no excess depth to be found. The handset is one of Mr. Schönfisch’s favorite features of the watch (how he chose from all the wow, I don’t know). I’ve not seen anything quite like them, which was precisely the aim of their design. Not having a reference point, I’ll call them Akura hands. And they’re the best I’ve seen. The hands, minute track, seconds brackets, and markers are all lumed with BGW9 SuperLuminova. That lume extends to the compass bezel (took my time getting there, didn’t I?). In the clearest cue to one of the watch’s main inspirations—the Seiko Alpinist—the Wayfarer features a fully-lumed, internal rotating compass bezel. If the compass directions weren’t enough, it also includes seconds/minutes marks, allowing for timing. The entire idea behind the Wayfarer, as suggested by its name, is adventure. Even if you don’t know how to use a compass, much less a compass bezel on a watch, the idea of direction, orienteering, and compasses in general is integral to getting lost, to true adventure.

Akura Wayfarer

One look at the bracelet and you’ll be thinking Royal Oak. Or once you google “Royal Oak bracelet,” you’ll be saying, “Ah yes.” The 22mm bracelet features solid, fitted end links and bracelet links that feature chamfers on each side. To make sizing a snap, the links feature single-end screws, plus a few micro adjustment holes on the clasp. Emblazoned on the clasp is the Akura name and logo, which will be downsized for production. The only issue I had with was with the clasp itself. It sits a bit high off the bracelet itself, and this creates a visual disruption on the “Akura” end, where it suddenly drops down to the rest of the bracelet. The bracelet itself is rather thin, but due to the release buttons, the clasp is closer to standard thickness. This creates quite a drop from clasp to links when closed. This is more visual and caused no issues for me during my time with it on the wrist. I suppose there’s the chance you’d catch it on something, but I didn’t suffer such tragedies. If there was a way to slope the clasp at the end down a bit, or just to choose a thinner clasp, I would. The watch also includes a two-stitch brown leather strap, which is totally adequate; the hardware is solid, so that’s always nice. Other than that, the grey dial model I had paired nicely with several straps (though my assortment of 22s is limited). You may run into trouble with the red dial, but that dial is so unique and exciting, I think swapping straps would be less necessary. 

Akura Wayfarer case back

Pushing the hands around is the reliable Miyota 9015. You may be expecting Swiss here, and I don’t blame you, given the level of design and finishing. But using a higher-end movement likely would’ve pushed the price out of the realm of microbrand affordability. Certainly over $1k. As such, I think it was a good decision, considering the 9015 has more than proven itself in this segment. One treat that gave me another Wow Moment was the date wheel. Sure, it’s color-matched (Brand Owners: With very few exceptions, if you aren’t color-matching your date wheels, you aren’t trying hard enough). But you spend some time with the watch and the 31st comes around and BOOM! Double color-match, as the number is matched to the teal on the minute track and dial.

Akura Wayfarer

So. Wow. Look back through that review. The clasp. That’s all I could find for criticism. Needless to say, I really enjoyed this watch. I liked it on the bracelet, on the Barton Elite, on NATO, and on leather. The dial is magic. The case and its finishing are top-notch. When a watch keeps your eyes on your wrist throughout the day, instead of on work (or the road), you know it’s a winner. The price? £599 (about $720 as I write). But here’s the thing that makes it even better: the already fully-funded Kickstarter campaign lets you get the watch at £399 (just $480). All the details and some very professional photos can be found on the brand’s website here. You can go buy yours—if you haven’t already—on the Kickstart campaign page here. Once you get it on your wrist, you may feel a need to thank me. No need: just pay it forward. 

Akura Wayfarer lume

Akura Wayfarer  clasp

Akura Wayfarer

Akura Wayfarer  wrist

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