I bet you didn’t wake up this morning expecting to lust over a Nixon automatic watch. The watch company, famous for its quartz fashion timepieces, released the Spectra last year to great fanfare and interest. We got the chance to do a quick hands-on (and giveaway) of the Spectra and came away impressed.

The Good

The Nixon Spectra is a self-winding automatic watch.

It runs a Miyota 82S0 twenty-one jewel movement with a display face and back. The movement is compact and visually pleasing and hides behind a black bezel with large pips. The entire watch is cased in stainless steel and is water resistant to 10ATM. It comes in multiple colors including silver, gold, and black. We got our hands on the gold version which looks less yellow in real life and instead offers something like the gold of the Casio A168WG quartz. It’s decidedly understated.

The whole package is crisp and well made. The bracelet is nice and tight and the clasp closes without issue. I’m also impressed by the decision to make the movement front and center on this watch and it will definitely make some watch converts if you hand this over to a newb without much experience in automatics. Like the best Swatch and Tissot automatics, this Nixon is a great starter watch and works really well as a more classic and formal beater.

The Bad

The Spectra is definitely not a night watch. It doesn’t have lumed pips and the gold on silver hand-movement design makes things a little messy. The movement also has the “jumping seconds hand” problem associated with Miyota movements, which means turning the crown to set the watch makes the seconds hand jump slightly. It’s not a dealbreaker but it’s definitely jarring if you’re unfamiliar with the issue.

While the watch is rated for water, it lacks a screw-down crown that could let water in. Keep it out of the Mariana Trench and you should be fine but handwashing and light swimming should be fine. Again, I wouldn’t swim in any watch without a screw-down crown but your results may vary. The potential for damage is high, especially since this is automatic. Buyer beware, etc.

Otherwise, for $375 you could definitely do worse. This isn’t a transparent grab at horology greatness but instead, it’s a measured attempt to offer a solid, handsome automatic watch at an accessible price point. Nixon’s quartz models are priced at about $175-200, putting them well within the graduation/first job/Father/Mother’s day present price point. The automatic is a bit more than that but, as we all know, automatic watches are cooler than quartz.

The Bottom Line

The Spectra is not an impossible watch to love. It’s definitely an entry-level piece and priced to move. You’ll be picking this up for a birthday boy/girl who is heading to high school or college or you can grab this thing for a great little work watch that shows you appreciate good timekeeping. A watch like this is a good first stop on the road to watch loving degeneracy and I’m glad Nixon made it.

By John Biggs

John lives in Brooklyn and has loved watches since he got his first Swatch Irony automatic in 1998. He is the editor of WristWatchReview.

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