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James McCabe London Automatic has a giant and refined face

The James McCabe London Automatic watch is a large-faced, classically-styled uptown business ticker. It’s handmade, cleanly setup, and well suited for the man in a suit looking to make an immediate impression. This automatic piece seems to fit the bill for a classic, able to be worn day in and day out. And with its large 43mm diameter, it’s great for a larger wrist too.

Hands on with the James McCabe Belfast Automatic

Your eyes do not deceive you – the James McCabe Belfast is back on our pages in a hands-on review.   For reference, you can see our 2015 review here. The model McCabe sent me is the James McCabe Belfast JM 1020-CP-2.  Although this is very similar to the previous one we looked at, there are subtle changes that make this model a bit more refined and a little more dressy in my opinion. Let check this out.

James McCabe Belfast Review


The last time we took a look at the James McCabe catalog, I found the Lurgan to be a bit of a mixed bag, but the Master was definitely more up my alley. When taking a look at what they might have interesting for a review, then, it was not much of a surprise that the James McCabe Belfast grabbed by attention. It has some similarities to the aforementioned Master, but does take things in a slightly different direction. So, without further ado, lets take a closer look at the James McCabe Belfast.

James McCabe Master Review



Today, we’ll be taking a look at the second James McCabe model that was sent over for review. While the first one we reviewed was a bit of a mixed bag for me, today’s model I found to be a better option – at least for my tastes and wrist size. As we saw before, James McCabe doesn’t go in for fancy names on their lineup. This watch line is known simply as the Master; our specific reference for the review is the JM-1011-03.


This watch is another dress piece, there’s no doubt about that. You’ve got a polished case (this time in a rose gold tone; 43mm x 12mm), croc-embossed strap, polished numerals and indices, and the sword-style handset. Fortunately for my wrist, they went for a more conventional lug design and geometry, so this one fit on my wrist a great deal better – so we were definitely off to a better start. As with the Lurgan, we do have a cutout on the dial exposing the balance wheel, which is partially obscured again. In this implementation, though, it wasn’t as big of a deal in my eyes.


That’s because you can actually see vast portions of the Sea Gull TY 2809 movement (customized a bit for the brand) through the translucent dial (in this case, in a shade of brown). This is one of the more intriguing, and readable, methods that I’ve seen for implementing a skeleton watch. On one hand, you can see a majority of the movement through the dial, and on the other, you’ve got a dial that’s very easy to read at a glance – no searching for the handset (which can sometimes be hard to pick out on a skeleton watch, as I’m sure you’ve seen).


This just made for a rather interesting look – giving you some great visual interest when you want in, and an otherwise mostly brown-toned (the outer ring is black) dress watch for when you didn’t. Flipping the watch over, you see a good-sized exhibition window, which further exposes the skeletonized bits of the movement (and the rotor). Unlike the Lurgan, the Master also seems appropriately sized for the movement that it contains.


Wearing the watch was without an issue. The sizing was spot on for me (though, it does have a generously long strap, so it should fit larger wrists), and slipped easily under a cuff. With the overall color scheme, it seems pretty much aimed at the office environment, though it would easily work with a suit or sport coat, should the need arise.


If you couldn’t tell, this was definitely my favorite of the two watches James McCabe sent over. There’s no word on what the movement is, precisely – but since it’s not called out, my guess is that it’s of Chinese origin. Not that that’s a bad thing in my book, it’s just an educated guess. When it comes to affordable skeletonized movements, China is where the brands seem to go.


In the end, this is another affordable option from the folks at James McCabe. Should you not like the earthy color palette used in this example, they do have a few other options (you can see them here). Coming in at a price of around $333, direct from James McCabe, this is a rather unique implementation of a skeleton watch that would probably be one of my top recommendations for someone looking for this style of watch. mccabewatches.com
Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: James McCabe Master (JM-1011-03)
  • Price: ~ $333
  • Who’s it for?: The guy looking for an easy-to-read skeleton watch that’s ready for the office
  • Would I wear it?: I’m not sure how much time it would get in the rotation, but I could definitely see wearing this one now and again
  • What I’d change: Well, let’s get clever here. How about a polarized layer that you could rotate to slide between completely obscuring and fully displaying the movement?
  • The best thing about it: The slick implementation of displaying a skeletonized movement


Backgrounds courtesy of Gustin

James McCabe Lurgan Review


Here on WWR, I like bringing your attention to newer brands you may not be aware of. If those brands happen to be offering some nicely affordable pieces in their catalog, well, all the better. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the first of two pieces that we had in from James McCabe.

As it sometimes goes with the smaller brands, you either get a clever name for the watch, or a reference number (rarely both). Here, we do actually have both. The broader line that this watch is from is the Lurgan; our specific review sample is the JM-1007-01. Ostensibly, this is a dress watch, given the croc-embossed strap, polished cased, and Breguet-style hands – and I could see it being used for that purpose, on the right wrist. My wrist, however, wasn’t the right one. While this is a larger case (45mm x 13mm), it’s not the biggest I’ve seen – until you incorporate the lug length.


Normally, the lugs aren’t something I pay a great deal of attention to, unless it’s something unique (like we saw on the Refined Hardware Gatsby), or it’s a particularly good fit to my wrist. On this particular watch, we have lugs that look and feel like they’re longer than you might otherwise expect. Some of this is I’m sure due to accommodate the lug bar – but even so, it felt excessive to me. And looked that way when I wore it, almost like I was a little kid wearing my dad’s watch, in some form.

Surprisingly enough, the oversize onion crown didn’t present any issues for me. I fully expected to have it digging into my wrist throughout the day, and that simply wasn’t something that happened. So, past the obvious style it imparts, it does give a very nicely functional use when you adjust (or set) the time, or feel like giving the automatic movement a wind. Oh, and that movement?  It’s a Miyota 8S27.


For this particular movement, you can see two sides of it. The first is of course the cutout on the dial. While I’m generally like these (as they give you a nice reminder of the machine at work), here you have the balance wheel obscured a great deal by how it’s mounted in the movement – which definitely takes away some of the appeal. Flip the case over, and you can see the partially decorated back of the movement, and skeletonized rotor. To my way of thinking, this would have been better served with a solid caseback. Opening it up just shows how uninteresting (visually) the movement is, and how much smaller it is than the case it’s housed in.

Ok, ok, I know it seems like I’ve been particularly critical of this watch. It’s not what I set out to do, but there were just details that kind of gnawed at me a bit. Let’s turn our focus, then, to what I think was well done in the piece. As a whole, I liked how they handled the dial. The polished indices are on top of a grooved track (perhaps reminiscent of an LP) that both serves to differentiate parts of the dial, and keep the markers from disappearing on a white background. Given the larger case size, they used it well to make for a very readable dial, helped along with appropriately sized hands (perhaps the hour hand could have been a tad longer).


While I normally don’t care for off-balance dials as we have here, I didn’t find it to be a major deterrent. It’s just enough of a tweak that it makes it different from what else you may find, but not so obnoxiously off-kilter that you feel like you’re looking through a funhouse mirror. I did also appreciate the inclusion of a 24h subdial (the one over at 9 o’clock). While this is by no means necessary in a dress piece, it’s a nice bit of data to have, especially if this is a watch you’re not wearing frequently. Then again, I just like having a GMT indication, so it could be personal preference working in it’s favor.

In the end, the watch was a bit of a mixed bag. With it’s overall styling, this is a watch I really wanted to like. Given some of the other details I mentioned though (lug length, how the movement is displayed), it keeps me from giving a resounding recommendation on the watch. If you’ve got larger wrists, though, and are looking for your first mechanical, this could be a reasonable option for you. Coming in at a price of $387 (direct), it’s also one that won’t break the bank. mccabewatches.com


Review Summary

  • Brand & Model: James McCabe Lurgan (JM-1007-01)
  • Price: $387
  • Who’s it for?: Someone looking for a big dress watch showing off it’s mechanical heart
  • Would I wear it?: No – the lug configuration simply makes it too large for my wrist
  • What I’d change: Shorten the lugs (and then use a curved lug bar) and remove the windows (front and back) on the movement
  • The best thing about it: The overall look of the dial – it puts me in mind of a “black tie” sort of setting

Backgrounds courtesy of Gustin and Renaissance Art