Yes, you can get a lovely hand-assembled watch for $130. Here’s the JDRT Matte Black White Model 2.0 that’s the epitome of simplicity and clean design. This 40mm x 8mm three-hander is just thin enough to be unobtrusive on the wrist, and when you’re wearing it, it feels even thinner than it really is. Upon first glance, it’s a model of simplified beauty and good taste.
The simple story of its two designers goes like this: “There’s no backstory,” says Rhys Thomas. “Just two mates living in Bondi, Australia who love watches.” Thomas told us about their manufacturing process: “We custom design our own stainless steel cases and assemble separately the movement, movement holder, dials, hands, sapphire crystal glass and batteries, by hand per order.” The result? It’s a simple watch with elegant good looks that feels rock-solid.
Array of Straps
We received three bands with the watch–two silicone bands, one black and one gray, along with a brown leather strap (the watch includes one strap, each additional is $15.38 USD). The silicone straps are like most–comfortably squishy and suitable for sports and swimming–but it’s the leather strap that I like best. It’s hand-crafted with exquisite quality. I like the way the three included bands point to the versatility of this watch, which the two creators had in mind when they first set out to design it. They wanted a watch they could take out on Bondi Beach, and then at night, quickly swap out the band and wear it with gentlemen’s attire for an evening out.
The company offers a variety of straps, too, with lots of vegetable-tanned leather colors available. Beyond those, Rhys Thomas tells us they plan to offer a kangaroo leather band, and will “move into more exotic leather options including Stingray and Crocodile” in the near future. How positively Australian!
Easy Strap Change
Facilitating that versatility, they made it extraordinarily easy to change these bands in a jiffy. They’ve welded a metal bar to the lugs, making a spring-bar mechanism unnecessary. This is an old military watch engineering choice, which eliminated spring bars as a failure point in the field. Even though it looks a little funky, the assembly acts like a pair of belt loops, where you can remove one band and insert the other just as quickly as you can put on a belt. There are no tedious pins or clamps, adapters or anything holding band and watch together. It simply threads through the bars underneath the watch, and once you fasten its buckle, the watch is securely tethered to your wrist, no matter how deep in the water you plunge or how wildly you gyrate on the dance floor.
If you want to take this timepiece surfing on the big waves in Australia, it’s been pressure-tested to 100m, but JDRT warns wearers to not dive deeper than 5M. Its sapphire crystal glass can undoubtedly take a beating. In an unusually active week when I was testing it, it still isn’t showing a scintilla of evidence of any scratches or damage whatsoever. I can tell that this watch and its solid stainless steel case was built to take severe punishment while still presenting a flawless appearance.
Back to Basics
The clean design extends to the watch face, where the only thing I miss is any luminance on the markers. Nevertheless, I like those precise squared-off hands and red second hand. A detail that I found pleasing to the eye is its date window, where the numerals are designed to perfectly fill that window, regardless of whether one or two numerals are required for the current date. It’s a pleasant attention to detail that’s just one of the positive attributes of this precision instrument.
But It’s Not Perfect
I noticed right after I first removed it from its box that on the back of the watch, the black matte paint was chipped (see the white chipped spot at the bottom of the case in the photo below). With a watch put together with such precision, it’s a shame this detail was not perfected at the same time.
That said, I’m especially impressed that such a handsome timepiece can be created for such a low price of $130 USD. It’s evident that these two talented designers carefully considered every component of this desirable object. There’s nothing ostentatious about it at all, and I think in the language of watches, this one practically whispers three words: “simplify” and “good taste.”
- Brand and model: JDRT Matte Black White
- Price: $130.07USD
- Who’s it for? Purists
- Would I wear it? Yes
- What I’d change: Deliver it without chipped paint
- The best thing about it: Clean design at a low price
Tech Specs from JDRT
- Case: 40mm x 8mm case, matte black stainless steel
- Movement: Japanese Miyota/Citizen Quartz GM10
- Strap: Australian Made Brown Leather, 12-mm lug-to-lug. Full grain, vegetable tanned, bridle leather, saddle-stitched with 20 Tkt bonded polyester thread. Optional straps we tested: light gray silicone, black silicone
- Water resistance: 100M / 10ATM Water Resistance (just don’t go diving below 5M)
- Glass: Hardened Sapphire Crystal (Scratch Resistant)
- Case back: Embossed with JDRT logo
- Crown: diamond-knurled
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