Henry London Chancery review

Watch Reviews

Introducing Henry London’s Chancery 41mm mesh bracelet wristwatch with a crimson red chronograph dial. The watch case is made of stainless steel and is completed with a double domed acrylic lens. The watch bracelet is made from stainless steel Milanese mesh. This Chancery model features the traditional hour, minute and second hands as well as a calendar window at 6 o’clock. The three sub-dial instruments each perform different chronograph functions: a 60 second stop watch dial at 6 o’clock, the 9 o’clock dial offers a 30 minute timer whilst the third indicates the time in 24 hour format.

It all sounds good doesn’t it and the current asking price of £60 (normally £150) sits very positively against the aesthetics in the marketing images.

Specifications are somewhat vague with Japanese Quartz quoted for the movement which could technically mean anything. The high double dome crystal feels very plastic to me and when tapped offers no ring at all so I suspect it is indeed pure plastic. This is a bit of a shame because elsewhere it looks and feels pretty decent and is one area where the margin could be squeezed to complete what is otherwise a pleasing offering for those who care about the visuals more than anything else. My main concern is damage which can happen very easily with a watch crystal and one small scratch can ruin the entire the experience, but I guess time will tell.

Photo 17-10-2018, 13 23 46

 

Some investigation showed that Henry London is owned by the Peers Hardy Group which also offers watches under the brands of Radley London, Cluse, Jigsaw, Kahuna, Tikkers and Disney (yes, Disney). These watches are very much in the budget range, but my experience of Kahuna and Radley London has been quite positive given the prices they are asking for their various models.

We are dealing with a budget watch here in the Chancery, of that there is little doubt, but it has something that many watches costing upwards of £2,000 don’t.

Photo 17-10-2018, 13 31 26

Just look at it. It is a beautiful design and captures the essence of 1950’s watch elegance more than almost any other watch I have seen. When I say almost there are countless examples of watches trying to capture the 1960’s with very few jumping back a further 10 years-

Longines Conquest Heritage Mens 35mm – a classic 1950’s style watch at £810 with an automatic movement and a style all of its own.

Rado Watch HyperChrome Captain Cook – a beautiful watch, but at £1,830 it is an ask and it has a sense of modernity running through it.

Tissot Visodate – a brilliant watch and one that offers just enough classic styling to keep you enjoying it every single day. Still, it is not obviously vintage from more than a foot away.

These are just three examples of what is out there, but still the Chancery is obviously more 1950’s than any of them. More than this, every single facet works with everything else to produce this look which is noticeable, consistent and one that looks way more expensive than the asking price would suggest. This does not matter though because it is all about the design here and if you forget about the vague quartz movement, the dodgy crystal material and possible limited lifespan you are in for a treat.

Photo 17-10-2018, 13 28 55

The dial is beautifully coloured with a subtle change of tone running to the centre. Alongside the applied hour markers and the ’12’ at the top it all looks right to my eye. The three dials also add some interest thanks to two of them being dark and one applied, but there is a lot more to like here. The date window is well positioned and finished as it should be, there is nothing worse than a harshly cut out window, and the hands (they are lumed by the way) are the length they should be within a case of 41mm. Even the Henry London logo is perfectly sized and with the right font for a 1950’s design to top off what is the most 1950’s dial I have seen in a modern watch.

The sense of age continues with the mesh strap that looks almost plastic from the outside and a smaller than average crown that is flanked by the chronograph buttons, which I would personally like to see a little smaller. Overall, however, the design and consistency is of a level that may seem obvious if you are looking to build a 1950’s homage watch, but which also seems to be close to impossible for other brands to succeed at.

Photo 17-10-2018, 13 29 32

Henry London has taken the idea of a 1950’s homage and taken it to the extreme with no worries about what watch people will think. And the end result is surprisingly impressive and even more so considering the price.

Think of this as an occasional wear novelty and you will have something completely different to wear when the mood strikes you. Because of this I ended up liking the Chancery much more than I expected to.

A moment of sanity

Articles

I spent some time yesterday looking at the Oris Carl Brashear limited edition and just for a moment thought that the asking price of £3,600 was reasonable.

It was one of those moments when reason had left the building, when the adult in me regressed to childhood and when nothing made sense. Feelings that are no doubt familiar to those of you who own more than two watches. If you own three or more you are a watch collector and you are lost.

Initially I had been looking at the green and bronze Oris Pointer Date (36mm) as a potential anniversary present for my wife, but when I showed her it she declared that she would kill me if I spent £1,400 on it. She absolutely loved the watch in every possible way, but felt that it was far too expensive and that we had better things to spend money on. She is the same one who wears a Fitbit on her left wrist and who has no desire for luxury in its place.

As it happened I was checking out both watches during a special Oris event at a Goldsmiths jewellers. The Oris rep was very polite, knowledgable and had just the right balance to make a potential buyer warm to the idea of such a purchase. And then it all went wrong.

When you are bombarded by phrases like “It’s only £90 per month plus a £450 deposit to buy both” and “You can never have too many Oris watches” I personally start to step back and question the motives at play here. It was not persuasive in any way, but rather was desperate sounding and unnecessary. £5,000 on two watches that you would need to support by finance over four years is crazy and would be a foolish thing to undertake. They did not care though because it was all about the sale(s).

About the sale to the point that one of the Goldsmiths reps told me that there were only eight of the watches left in the country. This then became fifteen two minutes later when the Oris rep tried the same tactic. Also, I was advised that it was an investment as they would both go up in value. Nonsense, I love Oris watches, but they do not increase in value as a general rule, and some depreciate very quickly indeed.

My wife then exclaimed that I could buy a Tudor Black Bay for £1,000 less than the Oris which really did make me think. No matter how much I appreciate Oris, few are worth £1,000 more than the Black Bay, in my humble opinion.

All of this made me reconsider how I feel about watches and the industry in general, and I didn’t like my new found pessimism. We all know that if you walk into a jewellers a large part of the stock on offer is made up of branding, nice boxes and fashion in terms of the pricing. We all know that this is an industry built on intangibles that you cannot see or feel, and that this is why the likes of Rolex, Omega and TAG do well. For me, Oris is slightly outside of those three and really does offer good value in the wider watch market for products that could potentially work on your wrist for decades without issue. However, after spending close to 30 minutes talking to the Oris rep at the event yesterday and witnessing the hard sale that followed I felt differently.

The intangibles are what keep the watch market ticking, but they need to stay in the background for it to work as it should. When pushed the natural reaction is to push back and I didn’t spend a penny.

FORMEX ESSENCE AUTOMATIC CHRONOMETER

News

The blue dial is reminiscent of some of Omega’s Aqua Terra models, with deeply machined horizontal stripes countered with vertical brushing. As the light changes angle, this dial turns from light blue with dark markers to a dark blue with light markers (this morphing appearance can make some photos misleading). The mirror polish of the applied markers is picked up by the faceted hour and minute hands, all of which are filled with Super-LumiNova BGW9. Under a loupe, the way the hour hand hovers just above the dial and just inside the indices is impressive. The color-matched chamfered rehaut holds a white minute track and is attractive and legible… More at Worn & Wound.

I kind of like this even if it looks a little ‘homage’. CSOC for $685 is impressive as well, but we are talking about a Kickstarter project…

George Daniels Millennium Sells for £200,000

News

This afternoon at Sotheby’s London, an exceptional George Daniels Millennium wristwatch sold for £200,000 ($262,680), thereby matching the previous record set a year ago for another rare example of this 20th-century horological* and confirming the dramatic rise in value achieved by Daniels’ watches in recent years… More here.

That is quite a bargain compared to some of the recent auctions that have captured a few more zeros than this one. A stunning watch in every way.

The Spring Bar

Articles

If you feel like ordering at least a hundred, Otto Frei will sell them to you (at the time of this writing) for the low, low price of exactly 94 cents a pop (“assembled by hand in a small village in Switzerland” no less, so bad cess to you, you non-small-Swiss-village-non-hand-assembling spring bar makers, may you and your shoddy wares be hurled into an outer darkness, where there is a wailing and a gnashing of teeth). They seem far too flimsy to have any of us trust a $200 Seiko diver to them, let alone, say, a $50,000 vintage Rolex (or whatever) and yet, they seem to be almost boringly reliable – mostly, anyway, and this despite the fact that they can’t be cleaned or serviced, and are basically disposable… More at Hodinkee.

You have got to be a decent writer to make this subject interesting, and Jack has somehow managed to do so.

APPLE WATCH SERIES 4 – FINAL THOUGHTS

Smart Watches, Watch Reviews

I feel like a man in 2007 who doesn’t want to give up his basic Nokia phone. I can see the future coming and I don’t want to admit that one day I may need a smartphone.

The future will overtake me and I will own an iPhone or Android phone like everyone else and wonder why I ever thought my Nokia was enough for me.

I kind of feel this way about the Apple Watch. I can see a time when it could be essential, when it could be a product group that is viewed as an oddity if you do not have one strapped to your wrist. With time and the advance of technology it is conceivable that smartwatches will offer so many benefits that they becomes a must have item, and at that point they will also become fashionable and potentially luxurious.

It is hard to imagine at this time, that a device so small can be so essential, but open your mind just a little to consider the advancement of voice control, the miniaturisation of technology and the progression of power management, and it feels possible that the usefulness of such devices will outweigh the pleasure some of us get from mechanical timepieces.

Balancing gaining pleasure from a mechanical object against the sheer utility of a gadget is not easy because it is like comparing oranges and bricks, but with only two wrists and the propensity to cover just one of them at a time, something has to give.

While it is possible that a watch on one wrist and a smart device on the other could become normal, I suspect that will not happen. The inconvenient truth is that the smart one will make the elegant one feel redundant, even for those of us who love mechanical watches, and it will be a no-brainer for the rest of the population (98% minimum) who care little for watches.

There is, however, a difference between watches and phones, and history cannot be a completely accurate guide here. No one had emotional connections, not strong ones, to their basic mobile phones. There is no sense of real history, no passing down through the generations and thus they are automatically replaceable. You will never see a vintage Apple Watch that is valuable or that can even be used in the future, and at no point will one ever be seen as an emotional object which is kind of strange for something you wear.

I suspect that the Apple Watch, and the other smartwatches, have come along at the right time. In a moment when young people tell the time with their phones and when even many older people do not bother with a watch. The time is ripe for a new product category and those of us who love the tradition of mechanical watches are in the most minor of minorities.

Onto the Apple Watch itself.

I was hugely disappointed with the Series 4 at one point because of the battery, but that seems to have settled to the point that 45 minutes of charging per day will likely be enough to keep it running the rest of the time. It still irks me when compared to the likes of Fitbit and Garmin, but it is manageable.

The Series 4 is a huge improvement design-wise over the previous four models and that screen matters more than you may expect for making touch points feel natural and for displaying the information you require without the need to squint. The way it hugs the wrist has been improved a great deal with a flatter sensor at the bottom, the Series 3 sensor lifts the entire watch from the wrist, and a more consistent form throughout.

It is extremely fast, extremely convenient and for a variety of tasks could be considered essential. For runners who want music and podcasts on the move and who do not want to carry a phone with them, the cellular version will be close to perfect.

For those who are new to fitness and who do not realise that Fitbit and Garmin do a ‘much’ better job in this area it could help them become much more healthy. And for those who for whatever reason find the iPhone impractical to use when working, the notifications and basic interactivity will feel more than a little useful.

Apple has moved the Apple Watch up a huge notch with the Series 4 and it feels like the iPhone 4 to me. The sudden design change and extra usability will make it more appealing to more people, just like the iPhone 4 did, and look what followed. If the Apple Watch Series 4 is the iPhone 4 equivalent, I am very curious to see what the Apple Watch Series 10 will be.

For the moment, however, it is still not for me and for two reasons. Firstly my love for mechanical watches which may be on borrowed time and secondly the fact that the Fitbit Versa, Ionic and various Garmin smartwatches are more practical on a day to day level, mainly because of the battery life. They most certainly have their faults, of that there is no doubt, but they have been designed to give the user what they need without the requirement to charge it too often and to mess about making it work how they need it to.

I have moments of clarity where I just sit and think. Moments when I don’t want to be interrupted and just need to consider what happens next, and as silly as it sounds in those moments I like to look at my watch, play around with it and just enjoy it. The Apple Watch is not for those moments and it is not for people who want a zero hassle experience, and if they did want a smartwatch I would still have to recommend one that does not require a daily charge to get through the day.

Apple Watch Series 4 – Day 4. The battery

Smart Watches, Watch Reviews

Yesterday the Series 4 was charged to 100% when I left home for work at 6:05am.

At precisely 3:07pm it had dropped down to 65% with one outdoor walk monitored using GPS – this walk was approx.. 35 minutes. The rest of the usage was standard notifications and just telling the time.

It took until 3:57pm to get back to 100% which may not sound like a bad time, but take that to charging from 0% and you get 114 minutes. That, in my opinion, is a lot of time to have to charge a smartwatch each day, and it is time that gets in the way of what you may have bought it for in the first place.

Photo 24-09-2018, 15 25 01

Now, I get that most people will plonk their Apple Watch on the charger overnight and that they will start the day at 100%, which should get it through the whole day, but what about sleep tracking?

I realise that this is not a standard feature of the Apple Watch, but boy does Apple bang on about the fitness and health benefits of the product, and it cannot monitor one of the most important health areas? Using a third party app such as AutoSleep does this very well, but it means that you have to wear the watch all night and then you need to find time in the day to charge it. You need to find approx.. 2 hours.

Anyway, forget all of that because it is not just about sleep tracking.

Firstly, it is about the hassle and having to remember to charge it every day. This is an annoyance and one which should not be there in 2018, and especially not in a watch. There is no excuse for it if you ask me and especially when I look at what the competition can do.

Take the Fitbit Versa, the Ionic, the Garmin smartwatches and many others. Five days of continuous battery life with GPS, sleep tracking, heart rate sensors, workout tracking and in some cases an always on screen. How can they do that when Apple can barely manage one day?

There is a very good argument surrounding the quality of the display and the completeness of WatchOS, but why would you push the limits of battery performance on a device that you wear? It is a huge downside for anyone who really does want to use the Apple Watch all of the time, and especially so because Series 4 is otherwise quite brilliant.

I find the Apple Watch to be a device that could potentially offer many advantages that collectively build to create a new type of device that can take you away from your phone for extended periods. It needs to be seamless in operation though and for this to happen you don’t want to be worrying about where the power is coming from.

As good as the Series 4 is, until Apple realises that sometimes you have to accept the technical limitations of the time to create a truly positive user experience the product may feel like a struggle to some users. With such potential a product like this needs to be extremely easy to leverage in terms of the capability it offers, but for me personally that means looking at the fundamental issue of power.


I will return to this subject in a few days because the today I was at 68% by 6pm. Go figure? Maybe it is taking time for the battery to charge up fully – we shall see.