I’ve brought you word of some of Refined Hardware’s handiwork in the past, and today we’re able to bring you a hands-on review of one of their more recent limited edition models, the Project 2: Gatsby Edition.
For those of you not familiar with Refined Hardware, you can check out my earlier writeup (here), and, frankly, you can just take a look at the pictures in this post. Refined Hardware has a very machined, industrial aesthetic to their watches. While it’s not for everyone, it’s something that I can get behind.
We’ve seen this sort of styling before with the Berkbinder & Brown T46 Tool Watch (review), but this one has a more visceral, raw, feel. It’s almost like something you’d think you could turn out in your own shop, given some time and materials. When you get into the details of what’s making up the watch, though, you realize this isn’t some weekend warrior slapdash sort of a thing.
So, let’s start with that case, as it’s the first thing most anyone notices. The 45mm (12.3mm thick) stainless steel case features a design they call a cage, which you can see in the profile view. It’s almost as if the central cylinder is sandwiched in between the top and bottom layers; the screw posts posts on the sides keep it from sliding out (ie, a cage). Oh, and a note on those screws – they’re made of titanium, and if you look closely, you’ll see that they’re positioned in a way that they also function as indices for timekeeping.
The next thing you’ll notice is that the strap ends are actually free to float up and down on their posts. This doesn’t really impact the comfort any (I suppose it would allow the case to twist some on the strap without breaking things), but it is visually quite interesting. Frankly, something with standard spring bars (or even screwed in posts) just wouldn’t fit quite as well with the look that is occurring here.
Next, let’s move on to the dial, as this is where things start taking a step up from the machine shop (in looks, that is; the case itself is finished quite well). While the dial itself is formed from steel, it has a great machined finish/texture to it that catches the light.
Then, set down at 6 o’clock in that dial, we have the pièce de résistance – the tourbillon. Interestingly enough, this watch was my first hands-on time with this particular complication. While there isn’t much support for it improving accuracy, it is a statement of a movement makers prowess. On top of that, it’s just plain fun to watch the cage rotate around as the balance wheel oscillates. I’ve always enjoyed seeing a balance wheel at work through an open-heart dial, and the tourbillon takes that to another level for me.
That tourbillon comes attached to a manually-wound movement that has a 42-hour power reserve (quite nice for manually wounds) and features a silver perlage finish – always nice to see some extra decoration in the mix.
Topping the watch off we have a larger sapphire crystal, which has the branding printed on the underside of it. This sort of printing I’m seeing here and there, and I like it. It keeps the physical dial a bit cleaner, and can give a dimensional effect. One thing I wasn’t as big a fan of was the handset, as it feels a touch undersized, especially that hour hand. I think if both hands were elongated a bit, and the hour hand widened, you’d have a fuller look that complements the heavy-duty look of the watch case.
Then again, handsets are one of those things that us watch writers seem to have very particular (if differing, at times) views on what looks and feels correct. Overall, I did really like the watch. It was comfortable to wear. Our sample came on the alligator strap, though silicone is the standard; there is also a bracelet available. I will say that, if you have smaller wrists, this watch might not fit you quite as well, given the large, flat back surface of the piece.
For me, though, it fit pretty well, and worked nicely in regular wear. While I enjoy wearing mechanical watches for the wonder of wearing a miniature (and useful) machine on my wrist, the Refined Hardware series of watches run with that machine aesthetic, and have created an interesting piece.
Given that the Gatsby is a limited edition (only 33 pieces) and that they’re built only when the order is placed (making for a 6-8 week lead time), you’ll come to expect that pricing for this tourbillon-sporting watch is going to be on the higher side of what I normally feature here. The pricing is $2850, for which you’re getting a made-to-order piece (who knows, maybe they can change up the hands for you) that isn’t going to look like anything else you’ll see around.
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