Home Watch Types Automatic Hands on with the James McCabe Belfast Automatic

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.

The Dial

This is a simple three hander with lume filled hour and minute hands. The automatic movement can be seen through a circular opening which shows the movement’s heartbeat. A cool touch was the use of translucent crystal on the lower part of the dial to show off more of the automatic movement. There are no numbers or even the brand name on this model. For this version of the Belfast James McCabe chose to use a simple “JM” logo places at the 12 o’clock position instead of their brand names across the dial. (all the Belfast 1020 models also have a cool lightning bolt on the dial). As I mentioned there are no numbers, just applied hour markers that are each filled with lume.

The Case

There is pretty much no difference from the other James McCabe Belfast models. This is a very nicely polished case with a very smooth polished bezel. A hardened mineral domed crystal is used to cover the dial and there is a stainless steel and hardened mineral crystal screw down exhibition case back. This has a simple push down crown with the “JM” logo. Water resistance is 5ATM/150 feet – good enough for washing your hands.

The Movement

One of the cool things I like about this James McCabe Belfast watch is the skeletonized movement. The Belfast is powered by a 24 jewel Miyota 8N24 automatic movement that has been skeletonized to show off all the gears that make up an automatic movement. They even cut out as much as possible from the rotor to show things off. There is nothing fancy about this movement itself, or it’s finishing.  That said,  seeing all those gears doing their job is so cool to look at.

The Strap

This James McCabe Belfast JM 1020-CP2 model came with a “croc” style strap which for me is rather large. For my 6.5 inch wrist I would need to punch one more hole to make it fit comfortably.  The strap uses a simple pin and buckle clasp with the “JM” logo and is well polished. These are quick release straps, which is handy if you like to change things up a lot or just want to do a good cleaning.

Overall Impression

I was not sure if I could get used to that circular opening on the dial but after wearing this for a couple days I got to like it. Its always fun to see the movements heartbeat. The case quality is very nice and very nicely polished. For not having a sapphire crystal, the hardened crystal is very clear and does the job just fine. This is one of the better mineral crystals I have seen. The James McCabe Belfast JM 1020-CP2 has the minimalist look that works for a dressier kind of watch, but I found it to also be casual and fun with the opening on the dial and that lightning bolt. For only $368 USD this is a very reasonable price for what you get; you can pick up your own at mccabewatches.com.


  • Brand and model: James McCabe Belfast
  • Price: $368 USD
  • Who’s it for: People wanting both dress and casual in the same watch.
  • Would I wear it: For sure
  • What I’d change: An extra hole in the strap.
  • The best thing about it: Love the look of the dial.

Tech Specs from James McCabe

  • Case: Solid stainless steel case.
  • Crystal: Hardened mineral domed lens and see through exhibition case back.
  • Dial: Dark blue detailed dial with 12 o’clock arabic marker and facetted index.
  • Movement: Precise 24 Jewel, customised Japanese made Miyota self-winding automatic movement with open heart skeleton display.
  • Measurements: 43.5mm wide, case thickness 14.5mm
  • Water resistance: 50 meters/5 ATM

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