When it comes to sub-$300 watches with automatic movements, you are very often finding yourself shopping the digital aisles of the various dive watches out there, from small and large brands alike.  And, frankly, I am a fan of the diver style, even though I don’t dive.  However, I know they’re not for everyone, or maybe you just want something that is a change of pace.  That’s where something like a watch from the Grayton Radiance collection comes into play.

That isn’t to say you couldn’t hit the water with the Grayton Radiance (the 100m WR rating belies that; just be careful with the non-screw-down crown).  No, here, it’s about the styling.  This starts with the case, which comes in a high polish has a noticeable rounded-off profile, with straight (but not quite wire style) lugs protruding.  While our review sample came in the 40mm diameter (watches from Grayton can be 36, 40, or 44mm), it wears much, much smaller than any 40mm I’ve had on my wrist as of late.

After the case, you get the dial and handset of the Grayton Radiance that separate it from any diver watch.  The handset is rather reminiscent of the diamond ones you see on aviators (primarily Fliegers), and raised numerals and pips – while not quite mimicking the aviator style – continue on that theme. For my part, I rather liked the font that was used for those numbers, as it keeps things bold, while giving it something other than the same font we see printed on so many dials.

All of this spins over a gradient dial on the Grayton Radiance, which is a hallmark of the collection.  While I tried angling for a blue one to be loaned, I’m glad I ended up with a green one instead.  Green dials are less common (at least, for what crosses my desk), and I can’t fault that green-and-white combo on the dial, or the green-and-brown with the strap.  I’d be curious to see how it pairs up with something of a more distressed brown leather, and with quick change spring bars, that would certainly be easy to experiment with.  For those more into bracelets on their watches, that is an option in this collection as well.

So, yeah, the Grayton Radiance is a good-looking watch.  That leaves us with wondering how it is in day-to-day life, right?  At first, I was concerned about the thickness of the case.  As it turns out, that was unfounded.  You see, with the more compact dimensions on the case (and lack of a top bezel, really), it was an optical illusion that it was overly tall.  Proportionally, it looks like you’d have problems getting it under a shirt cuff.  In reality?  Slips under like a charm, and pops back out when you need to check the time.

Given that I tend towards a darker palette when it comes to my work gear, I’d put this particular Grayton Radiance in a more casual leaning style.  That said, with the polished case, if you swapped in a different strap or picked up the bracelet version, this very much could be an all around type of a watch, going from the office to more formal occasions without breaking a sweat.

In my time with the Grayton Radiance, I found it’s Seiko NH35 movement to keep things on time without any hugely noticeable swings in accuracy (and that automatic, of course, contributes to the overall thickness of the case).  Design aside, the usage of a well-known movement, such as this Seiko, can certainly help set the mind at ease (maintenance should be able to be handled just about anywhere).  Then again, with pricing starting at $235, the mind shouldn’t be all that unsettled, if you’re a fan of the style here.  Oh, and let’s not forget the 15% discount you can get with this code:  CS4-Com-GRAYTON15%-WristWatchReview.

In the end, I think the Grayton Radiance is a good sort-of-dressy sort-of-aviator for your day-to-day needs.  Or, even if you were going to be one of those “one watch” folks.  Also, with the range of case sizes (and finishes, of which there are three) and dial colors (six in this particular collection), it would be pretty easy to mix-and-match a set of watches for you and your significant other, should you want.  Flying on it’s own, though, I think the Grayton Radiance is a solid affordable option that gets an automatic onto your wrist.  Of course, that’s just my opinion – sound off below or in our Slack channel to let us know what you think of the watches from Grayton.  grayton-watches.com

Review Summary
  • Brand & Model: Grayton Automatic
  • Price: $235
  • Who’s it for?  You want a good-looking automatic, but it must not be a dive watch
  • Would I wear it? Yeah, I could see this mixing in, and having some fun playing around with strap changes
  • What I’d change:  Wouldn’t mind seeing that mineral crystal swapped out for sapphire
  • The best thing about it:  The overall look.  If I had to settle on a single design element, it would be the numerals on the dial
Tech Specs from Grayton
  • Case diameter:  Ø 40mm – Unisex Watch
  • Case material:  Stainless steel
  • Case color:  Stainless steel
  • Glass material:  Hardened mineral
  • Case water resistance:  10 ATM / 300 feet
  • Dial color:  Sunray brushed gradual black to green
  • Numbers &/or indexes color:  White super luminous with silver borders
  • Hands colors:  White super luminous & silver
  • Strap & bracelet material:  Leather
  • Strap & bracelet color:  Brown
  • Movement:  Japanese automatic Seiko NH35

ByPatrick Kansa

A big data developer and leader with a penchant for gadgets, books, watches and beverages. You can find my work on WristWatchReview, Knapsack.News, and Slushpile. If you're on Twitter and/or Instagram, you'll find me there as @PatrickWatches.

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