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.


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.

Apple Watch Series 4 – Day 3. Oooh, aaah.

Smart Watches, Watch Reviews

This is getting tricky now.

I have decided to not go into too much detail about all of the features and the myriad things you can do with the Series 4. Those things have been covered by people with more time than me, better video cameras and so much knowledge of every aspect of the device. These people look at the Series 4 from the angle of someone already embedded in the world of mobile technology whereas I prefer to look at it from the perspective of someone considering if a smartwatch will benefit me and if it is worth giving up other things for. In short, the 98% of people not obsessed with technology.

It is getting tricky because I am really liking the Series 4.

Photo 23-09-2018, 20 12 23

The novelty factor is always at the back of mind, but I have owned a lot of Apple Watches in the past and this is the first one that feels truly useful and worthy of being a watch. It’s super fast, easy to navigate and looks great on the wrist. The battery is a big problem for me in that a day of usage is just about feasible, just about, and so I would need to be regimented in how I charge it.

I am going to stop the review here for a few days and will be back with my final thoughts at the end of the week. It’s Oris vs Apple Watch time and there is no option of using both. If the Apple Watch is to be my fitness tracker it would be a daily wear and in my view is not something you wear occasionally. It would also need to replace my Fitbit and that may be even harder to manage. Time will tell I guess.

Apple Watch Series 4 – Day 2. Still limited, but less so

Smart Watches, Watch Reviews

Any Apple product is an exercise in control and this brings with it good and bad experiences for the user.

On an iPhone you can only run iOS approved apps, you cannot use game emulators and you are limited in terms of what you can do with regards to even changing icons for apps. It is all commonly complained about by Android users, and I see the point, but I am also happy to sit back and have a phone that works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year as a trade off. I can live without some customisation if it means I get a more consistent overall experience.

It is less limited on the Mac of course and no one could persuade me that a Windows PC is worth the money compared to a Mac. The initial cost is easily retrieved over extended use and potentially much lower running costs (virus protection, software upgrades etc).

On the Apple Watch, however, I find very specific limitations that make little sense to me. They are choice driven and do nothing to make watchOS more stable. Some examples included-

Photo 22-09-2018, 19 43 25

The stand ring is completely pointless, in my humble opinion.

No steps complication which is crazy. Putting your steps on a watch face is such a simple thing to do because the data is already there and it would make the Apple Watch feel more like a fitness tracker to those using competing products from the likes of Fitbit and Garmin. You can achieve this using an app like Pedometer++, but the complication is slow to update and I remain confused by the mix of data coming from the iPhone motion processor and the Apple Watch. The data goes to the Health app on the iPhone and can also be found by having to scroll (too far) in the Activity app on the watch or iPhone.

The new watch faces are a definite improvement and I particularly like Infograph. The fact that you cannot adjust the colours of any widgets, however, means that you end up with either a bizarre mix of colours that are too busy or a very nice looking watch face that cannot include the widgets you want to see. The clamour for Apple to allow third party watch faces continues, it would be a huge business after all, but at this time the ability to build a consistent theme on the watch faces through colour choices would be an improvement.

Photo 22-09-2018, 19 43 07

It takes work to avoid an overly colourful clock face.

Photo 22-09-2018, 19 43 10

This one looks great, but lacks the complications I need.

The workouts are laid out in a specific order which will apparently change as the watch learns what you like to do. This is useful, but not allowing the user to choice the order in which these appear seems arrogant and verging on mean spirited. It is perhaps the most obvious ‘We are Apple, we know best’ software feature in watchOS 5.

None of the above is a deal breaker for me apart from maybe the steps complication purely on the basis that it would be so incredibly useful to my fitness regime.

On the subject of fitness I am seeing much improved performance when working out with GPS not killing the battery half as fast as it used to. Overall, I am seeing approximately 50-60% battery left by the start of the next day. This is not too bad and is suggestive of 2 days per charge, but it still lacks in comparison to the smartwatch offerings from Garmin and Fitbit.

Batteries are something that Apple seems to think about differently to everything else. My iPhone X struggles to get through a whole day at least twice a week and charging a watch every two days feels like a chore because when you are doing this you are not tracking your heart rate, your activity or seeing the benefits the device is supposed to offer. ‘Just enough’ appears to be the motto for Apple and the watch, and this applies to the iPhone as well. It is the one area that I would like to see Apple concentrate the most on solving for the long term, but I don’t expect it to anytime soon.

I am literally forcing myself to wear the Apple Watch and I do not like doing so. I like to wear a real watch and the Series 4 feels like an imposter, another computer that is attached to me and one that I do not need. The problem, however, is that it is growing on me.

Photo 22-09-2018, 19 46 56

Even news articles can be read easily now. Well, as easily as anything about Brexit can be read…

The larger display means a huge amount and makes so many tasks easier than they were before. I used to continually feel as though I was doing things on the watch for no good reason, but now it feels a lot more natural. Visually retrieving information now feels logical and with so many complications on offer at one time it quickly becomes a normal way of working. My iPhone can sit on the shelf for longer periods which is a bonus for its battery and the process of using the watch has stopped me using my iPhone so much for no other reason than to just use it, for browsing, gaming etc.

This is a process for me and one that I am fighting against, but something is building the more I use the Series 4. A sense that it now offers a range of benefits that I had previously missed is growing all of the time. That worries me…

Apple Watch Series 4 – day 1. What is it exactly?

Smart Watches, Watch Reviews

Well, I have one and it cost £429. A sum that many people say is too high and an example of the way Apple overprices its products. This particular model is the 44mm GPS version and you can go slightly lower by opting for the 40mm version at £399. Or, you can go much higher and choose the 44mm Stainless Steel Case with Milanese Loop for £849 which also offers cellular functionality, if your mobile provider is supported of course.

So, we shall ignore the Apple Watch Hermès Stainless Steel Case with Fauve Barenia Leather Single Tour Deployment Buckle at £1,499 and consider that one for those who have more than enough money to spare, people who will make up a tiny proportion of Apple Watch users. What people fail to see, however, is that the Series 4 is actually very competitively priced in the wider watch world. You get a sapphire crystal, seriously good finishing and a ceramic back which are unheard of in any watch that retails for £400. Take a look around at watches in that price bracket and only a handful will offer these materials or attention to detail, and at first thought I cannot think of one that offers both.

UPDATE: You don’t get a sapphire crystal on the front, you get one on the back only with the GPS model and so you need the stainless steel model for a sapphire front crystal, which kind of kills some of what I said above.

Photo 21-09-2018, 20 27 25

As an object described as a ‘watch’ the Series 4 is exceptional value with only one aspect drilling a hole in this theory – the temporary nature of its existence. In three years time it may be that your Series 4 is slowing down and that it cannot use the latest watchOS features, and it is likely that the latest Apple Watch will force you to change on an emotional level alone. For £400 this is a big expense, but if you are prepared to not think of it as a watch it may feel acceptable. If I am honest it doesn’t to me because I am a watch guy. I wear a £1,600 Oris which some will see as extravagant, but it could be on my wrist for 25 years and keep me informed of the time every day without me ever needing to charge it or interact with it in any way apart from changing the date and adjusting the time every month.

My Oris will grow more special over time as I experience new things with it and it will never become outdated on a technical level. It is mine for as long as I want to enjoy it and to me that makes the price feel more acceptable. I recognise that the majority will feel that a watch should not cost this much and I get that, but I also cannot quite grasp the notion of spending £100’s on a watch that will last only a few years. The more I think about it, the more confused I get trying to compare and rationalise these products; £100’s on a smartphone feels fine because we are used to that, £100’s on a watch is OK because we are used to that, but a smartwatch falls somewhere in between and it may take a few more years for it to find a comfortable home in the minds of the masses, just like the smartphone did.

One thing I can admit though, as someone who really does love traditional mechanical watches, is that the smartwatch is going to do serious damage to the retail watch industry and that the below £500 watch market is in for a tough time very soon. Luxury mechanical watches will continue as they are now, but a little bit of me sees them as potentially being akin to carrying around a record player to listen to music, hipster style. None of us know the future, but it would be more than foolish to suggest that the smartwatch industry is going to do anything other than grow exponentially.

Apple’s higher-end bands put most Swiss watch companies to shame. Apple’s link bracelet is extremely nice, and features a way to add and remove links to adjust the size that requires nothing more than your thumbnail. No one else has a link bracelet like this. The whole idea of easily swappable bands and straps — using nothing more than your thumbnail — is an astounding innovation. It’s a key driver of Apple Watch’s success as a watch. People have been wearing wristwatches for over 100 years, but until Apple entered the market no company had ever thought to design a connector system that would allow for seasonal new straps and bands. It helps make Apple Watch fun for owners and helps make money for Apple.

Apple didn’t start with one band and slowly grow its lineup over time. They entered on day one with an incredible strap lineup. No one would say Apple Watch debuted as the nicest watch in the world. But you can argue it debuted with the nicest lineup of straps.

John Gruber, above, came up with an argument that makes perfect sense. Apple changed how we think of watch bands overnight because it has the power to do so, but he misses the point somewhat by confusing an Apple Watch with a mechanical watch. The latter uses traditional strap pins because that is what we have used for decades previous. They fit the ethos of a mechanical watch which is to not necessarily be the best, but which is designed to be more organic, more personal and to be more than it is in terms of its history and feel. Adding a new mechanism-based strap to a classic mechanical watch would feel like installing a Tesla dashboard screen in a Jaguar E-Type.

This is something many tech and watch reviewers do. They choose when the Apple Watch is actually a watch based on if it suits the argument or puts their preferred product in a better light.

The first 10 minutes

Photo 21-09-2018, 15 20 18

One thing Apple does very well is to make that first few seconds feel good. No one makes unboxing a gadget feel better than Apple in the tech sector, and coincidentally the only companies that do match Apple are the higher end watch brands. The difference is that Apple does it at a much lower price point and this should be applauded.

With Series 4 the unboxing experience is more friendly and somewhat different than before. It would actually take some time to explain the required steps to open everything, but the fact that it all makes sense immediately is a bonus. The watch and strap come in different boxes now and there is a lovely cloth protector surrounding the watch itself when you open it.

Photo 21-09-2018, 15 21 01

Everything is perfectly proportioned and it feels great throughout with only a minute passing before you are ready to plonk it on the charger and start the setup process. Scrap that, 89% battery charge already on the watch is another positive so I didn’t bother charging it. I simply pointed my iPhone at the watch face and let it do its things which thankfully only took a couple of minutes. It would appear that on launch day the latest software is already installed because otherwise I would have expected many many more minutes of setup, which has been painfully slow in the past.

Photo 21-09-2018, 15 21 25

On the wrist

The Series 4 feels different than previous Apple Watches with the tiny physical changes making a big difference to how the form works. Series 4 feels more consistent and as if the footprint and depth have been designed with each in mind. Series 3 did not feel this way. It felt far too high, too small on the diagonal and that red dot on the crown was hideous- overall Series 3 was a rare misstep from the Apple design team who appear to have learned some lessons with Series 4.

It is very hard to explain what makes a watch feel right and what tiny design flaw can through it off, but this one works much better than models 0 to 3 and that is despite the fact it is square(ish). The corner curves are more prominent than before which seems to add to the sense that this is a watch, and this is enhanced further by the fuller use of the available screen dimensions.

Photo 21-09-2018, 17 03 20

I am not seeing the ‘huge’ screen that some reviewers have already raved about because this does still feel like an Apple Watch, but I am sensing that it feels more practical, easier to use and that the possibilities are more wide-ranging now than they have been in the past.

Give me a couple more days and I will be back with more…

Before I come back, I should add that it does appear that the software designers are having some issues working out when too much colour in a watch face is too much.

Photo 21-09-2018, 18 03 47

Apple Watch Series 4: disposable luxury

News, Smart Watches, Watch Reviews

The above video highlights just how impressive the Apple Watch Series 4 looks in stainless steel, especially in the tone of gold Apple has chosen.

For the price it is an impressive collection of components; sapphire, stainless steel, a really good bracelet and the general level of finish which puts it on a par and possibly ahead of many other watchmakers in terms of quality for the price.

However, this is not a watch for life whereas you could potentially spend £900 on a watch and wear it for decades. Tricky to balance.