If you look back through the annals of the WatchGecko Magazine, you will find several features on homage watches. It’s a fascinating subject, equally divisive and interesting, with purists labelling such watches as counterfeit whiles others take a more balanced view that these are fascinating timepieces which merit individual attention.
Our colleague Anthony Peacock recently looked in fine detail at the Squale ATMOS 1545 which is a dead ringer for the Rolex Submariner, and the Steinhart Ocean One which bears more than a passing resemblance to the legendary Paul Newman Rolex Daytona.
It’s not an easy business decision to make a homage watch, given the possible perception that you are just copying another’s design. The process is fraught with pitfalls and technical issues as your product will always be judged against the forerunner. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with loving a design so much that you want to pay tribute to the original creation, and maybe even make it a little more affordable. However, the result must be well made and functional at a very base level otherwise it may be derided. In other words, whatever you come up with must stand on its own two feet!
We are lucky at WG to enjoy a strong and mutually creative relationship with NTH, a boutique watch brand hailing from Philadelphia, USA. NTH make a fine collection of very capable dive and outdoor watches all of which have a very strong tool-watch appearance. Many of their models have a “nod” to a classic here and there, whilst others are wholly original creations. As the UK’s exclusive supplier of NTH, we really take an interest in what the company is producing and were delighted last year to be able to offer an NTH/WatchGecko collaboration range which was part of the 1970s-inspired cushion case NTH DevilRay collection.
However, the model we are looking at really stands in NTH’s current portfolio, not just because it is a stunning watch, but also because it is much more than a suggestion of another watch.
The NTH Näcken Modern Blue 300m Dive Watch bears a striking similarity to the Tudor Pelagos. Ok, there are some big differences immediately in that the Tudor is 42mm and the NTH is 40mm and the Swiss giant is titanium whilst the US model is steel. However, once you get by those it is hard to not accept that superficially the two watches are very similar.
Let’s start with a close look at the NTH.
NTH describe it as neo-classical. That’s a good phrase and is very apt. When you first lay eyes on the Näcken it is highly contemporary and genuinely striking. The blue of the bezel and dial is almost iridescent in a luxurious way. Immediately you pause and think “gosh it looks like a Pelagos” and then move on. And that’s the key! The watch is really interesting and so well proportioned that you move on immediately.
The white of the indices and hands is brilliant in its starkness making the dial supremely legible. This adds to the high-end feel of the watch. The sweep of the diamond pointed second hand is beautifully smooth suggesting that it’s not a cheap juddery movement inside.
First handling presents a decent 140g weight and a thoroughly solid feel. Nothing rattles and the machine feels well crafted. Rather than similarities, unique features are noticed. Especially the screw-down crown which protrudes slightly yet is still protected by the shoulders. The crown is serrated just enough to provide a reassuring grip, as is the 120-click solid bezel with a striking PVD/DLC stainless steel insert. The curved end pieces of the Oyster-style bracelet join seamlessly with the case.
Revolve the watch in your hand and the light plays on the different finishes to the case and bracelet; well positioned polished accents offset against a predominantly satin finish. At full 180 degrees, the bracelet is secured by a flip lock clasp with the double reassurance of an Omega Seamaster-style locking system.
Return to the dial and the individual details begin to shine through. When compared to the Tudor, the NTH has a much more prominent minute track and no raised rehaut. The blue is wholly different, more of a tropical ocean blue rather than the brighter flat colour of the Tudor. The hands remain white to the centre and the date has been relocated neatly to the 6 mark. And, thankfully, there is a lot less prose to read.
The Näcken is powered by either a Miyota automatic cal. 9015 if your chosen model has a date or the 90S5 for no date. First introduced in 2009 this workhorse movement is relatively easy to obtain and offers similar parameters to the ETA 2824-2. The 42-hour power reserve, accuracy of between +/-10-30 seconds a day and Parashock protection should meet most people’s needs. There is no exhibition case back on the NTH, indeed there is just a very simple steel one, so the only indicator of what movement you have is the very smooth sweep of the seconds ticking away.
In low light, the NTH really delivers with Tritec Super-LumiNova in the bezel and crown logo and BGW9 on the hands and indices. It is a veritable light show and looks very impressive.
And last but by no means least, all this impressive package is sealed up in a 300m (1000ft) water resistant professional dive standard unit.
So where does that leave us?
What we have established here is that the NTH Näcken is a superb watch. A thoroughly capable dive watch which just happens to bear a resemblance to a very famous creation. And that’s a good thing as the Pelagos is an expensive watch which is well beyond the means of many enthusiasts. The NTH is around one-sixth of the price of the Tudor and delivers the same sense of a dive legend. Yes, of course, the Tudor has a COSC certified, in-house, calibre MT5612 but to the NTH purchase demographic that probably will not matter a great deal. I suppose that’s another debate altogether. How much a stunning movement matters when you cannot see, hear, or feel it (I think that daily with my Rolex when compared to another model I own with a Valjoux 7750 which feels “alive”).
The NTH line is a superb collection of tool watches, some of which, generate the feel of hugely popular models. Each NTH watch is designed with such care and thought that very soon any perceived homage to a Swiss brand quickly goes away and you are left with a highly capable, striking watch which will sit proudly in any collection. Check out the NTH range here. Due to popularity the Näcken is out of stock just now but stay tuned as it will be back in 2-3 months at an expected price point of between £600-£700.
A personal postscript:
I have a very good friend, who is a young watch geek, right at the beginning of an exciting journey. One of his “grail” watches is a Tudor so I let him see and handle the NTH Näcken. Suffice to say he loved it and the price. I watched with interest how he commented on, and then dismissed, any similarities and quickly began to appreciate the NTH for what it was, a high-quality unique creation.
Specs for the NTH Näcken
- Case: 316L Stainless Steel with Double-Domed Anti-Reflective Sapphire, 40mm diameter (without crown) x 48mm lug-to-lug x 11.5mm thick
- Movement: Miyota auto cal. 9015 (with date) or 90S5 (no date). 28,800 BPH with 42+ hour power reserve
- Bezel: Tritec Swiss Super-LumiNova 120-Click Uni-Directional Bezel with Top-Grade PVD/DLC Stainless Steel Insert
- Bracelet: 20mm lugs with tapering bracelet & 18mm double-locking diver's clasp 28,800 BPH with 42+ hour power reserve
- Dial & Hands: BGW9
- Testing: Individually pressure tested to 30 ATM / 300m / 984ft WR
- Weight with Bracelet: 4.9 oz / 140g
- Regulated to -5~+15 secs/day.
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