Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A smaller watch customizer has been seeing success, and decides to put their hat into the production ring. Yeah, that’s right, it’s not a story we hear all that often when it comes to Kickstarter campaigns. When it’s successful, you get some really lovely stuff – see brands like MKII and Orion. The latest one to jump one is right here in my neck of the woods, with the Alexander James NDR001 campaign wrapping up very soon.
Given that Alexander James calls Chicago home, I don’t know how this project missed hitting my radar. Good thing I had a backup system (accidentally) in place with the TBWS Podcast where they were just talking about the Alexander James NDR001. As of this writing, the campaign is not quite 100% funded yet, but I don’t know how it couldn’t hit that mark. I mean, just have a look at the watch. The proportions on – and in – the 316L case (which I believe is a 40mm) are just right. I rather like how the hands are the same width as the applied indices – it’s a bit of parallels that speaks well of the design. Since we’re on the subject of the dial, you’ve actually got three different choices here.
With the Alexander James NDR001, you’ll be able to chose from a textured black dial, a grey sunburst dial, or (my favorite) the white “snowflake” dial, which has the appearance of freshly-fallen snow. Everyone will have their own preference, of course – based on where you’ll be wearing the watch or what you might already have – but that white dial looks to be something else. Topping the dial you’ve got a lovely bit of sapphire, and surrounding that, you’ve got a luted ceramic bezel insert on the 120-click unidirectional bezel.
That bezel – along with the printed water resistance rating (200m) should clue you in that the Alexander James NDR001 is intended – at least in terms of design heritage – as a dive watch. With the classic looks and brushed oyster bracelet, however, this is a watch that could easily work into a variety of situations. Purists may argue, but I’ve got no problem wearing a good-looking dive watch with a suit, so long as I can fit it under my shirt cuff.
Tucked into the case of the Alexander James NDR001 is the Seiko NH35. Why that movement? Well, affordability and reliability aside, Alexander James started out as a Seiko modder, so this is a movement that he is familiar with. Makes sense, then, that it would continue on into his production watch. You interact with the the movement via the screw-down crown, which I do want to focus on. The crown itself sticks out a bit, without any sort of crown guards. In fact, it looks sort of like you can see the crown tube, right? Well, that’s actually part of the crown itself, and I imagine it lends some extra structure to the assembly. At least, I hope it does, since you could certainly catch this on a door jamb, say. While a flush crown may have been more what we’d expect, with the crown sticking out, it should actually make it easier to work with the crown. We’ve all had watches that it becomes a very frustrating game to get the threads to engage to screw down. That should not be the case here.
As I mentioned, the campaign for the Alexander James NDR001 is currently running, wrapping up on February 14, 2019. Right now, it’s sitting at just over 88% funded. If you want to help them hit that goal, well, get on over to the Kickstarter. There are still some early bird slots sitting there at $300 (which is a $50 discount off of retail); once those are gone the next pricing tier hits at $325. There’s a lot to like about this design, especially at this price. I’ve been talking with AJ to see about meeting up to see this in person, so if that works out, be on the lookout for a fuller review. For now, though, I do really like what I see for this inaugural production outing with the Alexander James NDR001. It’s a break from his homage mods (which look great on his site), but it’s a necessary next step for him to make the move into his own designs. We here at WWR like it, and can’t wait to see this project be successful. project page via alexjameswatches.com
- Brand & Model: Alexander James Watches: NDR001
- Price: $350 retail, with early bird pricing starting at $300
- Who’s it for? Whether or not you’re in the modding scene, a clean, classically-inspired dive watch is for just about everyone
- Would I wear it? Yes, I do believe I would
- What I’d change: While I get that it keeps the dial simpler, I do miss having a date window (I don’t mind that it’s exclusion left us full-size numerals, though)
- The best thing about it: Those dials, from the indice/numeral choice to the interesting textures they’ve got
Tech Specs from Alexander James
- Movement: Seiko NH35
- Water Resistance: 200m
- Case Diameter: 40mm
- Lug to Lug Height: 48mm
- Lug Width: 20mm
- Thickness: 12.6mm (14.3mm to crystal’s dome)
- Crystal: Blue AR Coated Low Double Domed Sapphire
- Case Material: Stainless Steel
- Case Back: Solid Metal
- Bezel Style: Coin Edged
- Bezel Insert Material: Ceramic (lumed)
- Lume Type: BGW9
- Bracelet: Stainless Steel; Oyster Clasp