Charlie Fowler is a great fellow. A watch collector, furniture designer, and man of good taste, he was inspired to make his own wristwatch. It’s a nice combination of features from watches we’ve seen before, and some details that are uniquely Fowler’s own. This is the Alkin Model One: an automatic watch for regular people of good taste.
If I’m honest, the first thing anyone looks at with a watch is likely to be the dial, hands, and branding. After all, when you wear a watch to tell time, this is the most important view. It’s important that the branding be subtle, rather than in-your-face. It’s required that the numerals or indices be legible, and the hands should be long enough to reach the things they indicate – hour hands have to reach hours, minute hands should reach the minute track. Alkin designed the case, branding, and hands, and for help with the dial numerals, he reached out to British typographer Gareth Hague. Hague chose to create modern numerals that are clear. I can’t identify a specific font that was used, but the 6 and 9 look like a mid-century modern font, while the 1 and 3 used look similarly contemporary. In any event, it’s a nice choice. The cardinal 12,3,6,9 are larger than the non-cardinal direction hours, making it a nice dial to read. There is no date function, which would break symmetry.
The hands are properly long, just reaching the items they indicate. They’re hollow, with the top surfaces lumed, making them brightest at their tips. We last saw hands somewhat similar to these on the Butler OOOI. The lume is a lovely blue using the BGW9 lume.
The crystal is a domed sapphire on the front, with a flat sapphire in the display caseback. The movement is a Seiko NH35A, a robust, affordable movement which makes it ideal for use here. The rotor is signed with the Alkin brand. The crown is signed with a capital A that bears no relation to the “alkin” branding on the dial or rotor. It’s unclear to me where the “A” comes from, I would have been less surprised by a lower case “a” that matches the typeface used by the brand elsewhere. The crown resides at the 4 o’clock position which is common for Seiko-based watches. Here, it makes good sense in that the crown is less likely to intrude on the wrist or top of hand, and less likely to take a hit if the crown were to collide with something. The lugs are large and have flat surfaces, rather than any rounding. The bezel is a smooth type, which looks nice. The case comes in brushed stainless steel, or PVD black.
The straps are that difficult-to-nail combination of thick and supple. They measure at 3.5mm thick, and if I hadn’t had other good vegetable tanned leather straps that were supple, I’d have been more skeptical of these. Fortunately, I’ve had good experiences with similar straps, and look forward to these. They come in black, brown, and cognac.
The dimensions are decent, as well. The watch is a 42 diameter watch, using 22mm straps. Normally, that’s a little on the large side for me, but I have liked other watches in this size. What really makes this for me is the thickness is 13.25mm. That’s shorter than other 42mm I’ve worn, and stands to make this a really comfortable watch to wear. It conveniently ships in a leather travel pouch in a light raw leather finish, which will darken in color over time and change shape slightly as the pouch shapes itself to the watch. It’s a really nice touch, for a watch that’s priced as low as $253 USD for early backers on Alkin’s kickstarter.