Normally, if there is a normal, Doc Vail makes an NTH watch by taking a classic model, updating it with modern specifications (quality movement, sapphire crystal, solid end link bracelet), improves the case dimensions, and calls it a day. This is a gross oversimplification, one that glosses over months of design work, refinement, arguments, and wrestling with a factory to try and live up to the original intent. With the NTH Azores, we began to see Doc stretch a little, combining influences from different models without directly paying tribute to one specific watch faithfully. Here, he walks down that path further, but for a vintage-inspired diver.
The NTH Devil Ray is a watch where the result is greater than the sum of its parts. It answers the question for me, “what if we made a 1960s diver that wasn’t a Sub, and made took everything to the next level on function?”
It’s out of function that you get a sawtooth bezel with vertically brushed surfaces for maximum turning grip. It’s out of function that the bezel is recessed, in Doc’s words, “slammed down into the case, partially shrouding it,” so that it can’t be accidentally turned, only manipulated in the space between the lugs.
It’s out of function that you get a two ring bezel insert, with the dive 60 minute track and a 12 hour track, which I find very convenient as a budget GMT. It’s out of comfort that you get a turtle-shaped case with vintage inspiration, something like a cross between the Certina DS-2/DS-3 and Doxa Subs. Doxa has had a good year, with limited editions. The timing is right for the NTH Devil Ray.
The bracelet is worthy of note, too. The 5 link brushed and polished thing looks like tank treads. It’s tough, and comfortable, falling off the lugs naturally. Of course, if you want to wear it on a strap, a 22mm will fit nicely.
When you buy an NTH, you’re getting a watch that’s been designed, with purpose. It’s a watch where every detail has been thought through, and attempts to solve a problem or desire for there wearer. Comfort, utility, and function.
The shapes, the lugs, the textures, didn’t occur in a vacuum. They’re intentional. The lugs that are tight to the case and hew to the wrist just so comfortably don’t just happen. The color choices don’t just happen–turquoise dials are chosen. The colors-as-depth gauge around the periphery of the dial are chosen. These colors are present because they work as a rough depth gauge. The deeper the watch goes, the fewer colors are visible, so you can sort of tell how deep you’ve dived by the colors you can see on the dial. Is the Devil Ray a replacement for a dive computer or properly calibrated depth gauge? No. But is it functional? Yes.
The hands are large and distinctive. The minute hand is orange, and the seconds is tipped with orange to match. The indices are applied metal filled with lume, nestled in a notched chapter ring that slopes up to the crystal. The crystal is gently proud of the bezel insert with a beveled edge. Everything about the watch screams 1960s in the best way possible.
On the HourTime podcast, John recently introduced Doc, saying, “everyone knows JanisTrading,” to which Doc probably thought, “They do?” More to the point, is that they should. They should, because of watches like the Devil Ray, that push the boundaries on what a 1960s non-Submariner dive watch could be.
The NTH Devil Ray is available in four dial choices, black, orange, turquoise, and white. The white dial is a silver-colored finish with sun-ray brushing. All models have the colored depth gauge subtly at the periphery. The bezel inserts are two-tone, with 12 hour marks on black, and the 60 minute marks on silver. Both dial, bezel insert, and crown have lume, and glow brilliantly, using the new X1 Superluminova that glows brighter, longer. The Devil Ray is available currently for $575, discounted from its normal pricing of $700. Every decision here was a thoughtful one, and quality of execution is an excellent value for the price asked. For all this, you get a Swiss STP automatic movement, a 500M water resistant dive watch like none other.
- Brand & Model: NTH Devil Ray
- Price: Earlybird pricing starts at $575
- Who we think it might be for: You like a dive watch from the 60s, and would consider a Doxa, but want something a little more purpose-built at a budget you can afford. And it’s Swiss!
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: Yes.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Doc doesn’t need suggestions. This thing is built right from the start.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: The thoughtfulness of including the 12 hour bezel.
Tech Specs from NTH
- Case size: 43mm
- Height: 13.5mm
- Case material: steel
- Crystal: sapphire
- Strap: Polished and brushed stainless steel,
- Movement: Swiss Tech Prod. cal. STP1-11 auto