A tough, affordable, dive watch, for those with a larger wrist...
If you’re no stranger to the microbrand scene, or to sub homages, then chances are you’ll have come across NTH. It’s a small U.S. based brand run by Chris Vail, a prominent member of Watchuseek and the watch community in general.
However, for those of you who haven’t heard of NTH before, the brand specialises in producing affordable dive watches that take cues from various vintage divers. The original NTH subs were all 40mm, but Chris has just launched a new, larger line called the 2K1 subs. Comprising two different models, the Swiftsure and the Thresher, the 2K1 range is clearly targeting those customers who want a larger watch.
The NTH Swiftsure - What it does
Like all NTH watches, the Swiftsure is a tool watch first and foremost. With a water resistance of 601m, and a helium escape valve to boot, it will be able to go down as deep as any owner is ever likely to. Naturally it also has a sapphire crystal with a decent anti-reflective coating that removes most of the glare from harsh lighting. The bezel insert is also brushed steel, which whilst not as scratch-resistant as ceramic or sapphire, doesn’t have the potential to crack.
The Swiftsure is powered by a Miyota 9 series automatic calibre; either the 9015 (with date) or the calibre 90S5 (no date). If you’re unfamiliar with the Japanese movements, they’re fairly standard choices for an affordable entry-level mechanical watch. The 24 jewel calibre beats at a rate of 4Hz, has a 42 hour power reserve, and has an accuracy of -10/+30 seconds a day.
Hands On Thoughts
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the NTH Swiftsure doesn’t overpower my slim wrists. At 43.75mm, the case is well outside my usual comfort zone, but despite this I didn’t feel like I had a dinner plate strapped to my wrist. This undoubtedly thanks to the watch’s thin profile, which at just 13mm is exceptionally thin.
The finishing of both the case and bracelet is excellent, and for a watch in this price bracket I couldn’t ask for better. The brushing is smooth and uniform, and gives a predominantly toolish feel to the Swiftsure, whilst the polished chamfers cut through that to give a touch of refinement.
The dial has a clean and simple layout that’s very well executed, and I couldn’t see any flaws with the naked eye. The combination of the white applied markers on a matte blue dial might not be the most visually interesting, but they’re incredibly easy to read.
Keeping function at the forefront of the Swiftsure’s design, it’s got a healthy application of BGW9 Super-LumiNova on both the dial and bezel. This is one of the brightest grades of Super-LumiNova, and with the chunky dial and handset the result is a watch that’s very easy to read in the dark. On a side note, the NTH logo on the crown is also lumed. It doesn’t serve a purpose, but nonetheless it’s rather cool.
The oyster bracelet has a nice taper to it, going from 22mm at the lugs to 18m at the clasp. The links are held in place by screws so they’re easy to remove by yourself. What’s more, they’re nice and slim, and fully articulated, so the bracelet is exceptionally comfortable on the wrist. The clasp is the usual three-fold type you usually see on watches at this price point, and it’s got six micro-adjustment positions, so it should fit the wearer’s wrist perfectly.
Watch straps for the NTH Swiftsure
Whilst there’s nothing wrong with the bracelet on the Swiftsure, the drilled lugs make the prospect of strap changes very tempting, so here’s three alternative strap options from the WatchGecko catalogue.
Four Oaks Vintage Quick Release Watch Strap
Getting things going is our Four Oaks Vintage Strap. The brown vegetable tanned leather suits the blue of the watch, and adds a smart-casual touch. Also, it’s fitted with quick release spring bars for fast strap changes.
ZULUDIVER Bond Herringbone
There’s something about putting a diver on a military style strap that just feels so right. In this instance I’ve gone with the grey & blue ZULUDIVER Bond Herringbone. The colours pair perfectly with the blue on the Swiftsure, and the brushed steel hardware matches the style of the case.
ZULUDIVER 328 Italian Rubber
Lastly is a different type of military style strap, in the form of our ZULUDIVER 328 Italian Rubber. Again, the grey complements the blue watch, but the rubber gives it a more practical look than the nylon.
Things We’d Change
Unfortunately, whilst the original 40mm NTH subs have a very good bezel, I found the Swiftsure’s incredibly hard to turn. This is because the edge of the bezel itself is quite narrow, so there’s not much to grip on to. The insert is also ever so slightly misaligned. It is a real shame because there is absolutely no play to the action, and each click feels crisp and solid.
So all things considered, the NTH Swiftsure is a nicely made, affordable dive watch. It might not have a groundbreaking design, but it’s a well executed one. What’s more, it doesn’t have any obvious compromises for the sake of cutting costs.
I really appreciate that such a large watch is so thin, and whilst it might seem like a small detail, it’s one that makes the Swiftsure eminently more wearable. It’s slim profile is something that really separates this and the other NTH subs from other, worse designed, microbrands.
Which makes that stiff bezel all the more frustrating. That one small issue aside, I think that for $725 (£620 including VAT), the NTH Swiftsure is a well-made, solid dive watch that has some decent specifications. If you’re on the hunt for an affordable daily wearer with a bit of wrist presence, then look no further.
I do love a watch dial that’s a little out of the norm and good news for me, there’s a trend for colourful displays of late. Brands are getting braver and bolder with their use...
Most of us are familiar with the term "You don't know sh*t from Shinola". This playful phrase sets a high bar for an iconic name that was once associated with a (now long defunct) brand...