Among all the discussion topics which occupy my social media time, identifying the source of inspiration may be the one which takes up more of that time than any other. People who like a design will frequently ask if it pays homage to something else, and if so, what that is. People who don’t like it will often dismiss it - precisely because it pays homage to something else.
The NTH brand is all about taking inspiration from iconic designs of the past, and so it’s inevitable that every new release raises the topic again. With every release, there’s a discussion about what’s the same, what’s different, and whether either is good or bad.
Reasonable people can hopefully disagree without becoming disagreeable. As I see it, some designs bear more or less similarity to something else, and regardless of whether or not someone likes or dislikes a model because of or in spite of those similarities, I hope people can judge each on its own merits. I want people to look at what they are, rather than look at what they aren’t.
With thirteen models in production for delivery in April/May 2019, some new, some we’ve made before, it feels like a good time to review each. Let’s dig into the range a bit to see if we can’t find something for everyone.
First off, we should discuss the case and the features which all the NTH Subs share.
It's certain that most of us will tend to notice the dial, bezel, and hands of a watch more (and if we’re so inclined, be more likely to dismiss a watch because of their similarity to another’s). However, the importance of case design shouldn’t be overlooked. The dial, hands, and bezel may give a watch its look, but the case provides a watch its feel.
I don’t like to brag too much about it, but the NTH Subs’ case is, in a word, remarkable, with many innovative features. Many brands are focused on design thinness now, but when we designed the Subs’ case in 2015, it was the thinnest 300m WR watch ever produced (as far as we could tell, based on our research into it).
While 11.5mm was and still is remarkably thin for a watch with 300m WR, the truth is that it could be even thinner. If we gave it a flat, rather than domed crystal, it would have been just 11mm.
We worked with our case engineering team to shave every fraction of a millimeter out of the design that we could. We got all the internal clearances down to within 0.15mm of the absolute minimum required for proper assembly.
There’s literally no way to make the Subs’ case thinner without giving it a flat crystal or risking mechanical failure from a lack of clearance between parts.
But we didn’t stop with the inside of the case. We shaped the outside to accentuate the thinness, with chamfered case walls, a sloped bezel, and downturned lugs. We obsessed over every detail, from the amount of crystal edge visible to the height of the bezel teeth – all with an eye towards making the case look and feel even thinner.
While most people assume the NTH Sub’s case is based on the big-crown “MilSub”, the A/6538 “Bond Sub” from 1957, the truth is that its contoured case shape was more inspired by an earlier reference, the small-crown 6536, from 1955.
We also thought about real-world durability. Although there are no crown-guards, the crown is protected by way of its neck being recessed into the case when screwed down. The hardened, stainless steel bezel inserts are given the thickest application of PVD/DLC. They’re virtually indestructible. And they’re brushed – not polished or blasted – to best maintain their appearance for the long term.
Whereas some watches will eliminate glare by using two anti-reflective coatings – one on the inner and another on the outer surface of a crystal - we also use a double-layer of anti-reflective coating, but put both on the inside surface, where they can’t be damaged by life’s mishaps.
We then went the extra step to commission Tritec of Switzerland to make a custom-recipe mix of lume pigments, so we could make our signed crowns look metallic gray in the daylight, but match our fully-lumed bezel inserts when they glow in the dark. While other brands have also begun using lume in their signed crowns, we’re still the only brand to use a custom metallic pigment.
BY GREAT ODIN’S BEARD!
Most of the designs being produced for April/May are ones we’ve made before. Before we get to them, let’s discuss the all-new Odin, available in black or blue, both with or without a date window at 6.
The NTH Subs trace their inspirational roots to tool watches issued to military divers, particularly those commissioned by the British MOD (Ministry of Defense), the iconic A/6538 and 5513/5517 MilSubs, and the “Snowflake” subs commissioned by the French Navy, the Marine Nationale.
But within that long and distinguished history of military service, there was a brief chapter with another lead character – the Seamaster 300. For five years, from 1967 to 1971, the British MOD issued Seamasters, not Submariners, to its combat divers, setting up one of the most storied rivalries in all of horology.
It didn’t feel right to NOT tip our hat to the Seamaster in some way, after all the respect we’ve shown the various incarnations of the Submariner.
Like all NTH Subs, the Odin is similar, yet different. We kept the classic trapezoidal hour indices and broad sword hands of the original, but omitted the 3-6-9-12 numbering in favor of the big-triangle at 12, to give the Odin some similarity to the more modern Seamasters produced from the late 1990s to the late 2000s.
Whereas the original, military-issue Seamasters were available in any color you wanted, as long as it was black, we added a blue-dial/blue-bezel version and gave both a contrasting-color mix of C3 lume on the dial, but BG W9 on the bezel.
While there have been blue-dial/blue-bezel iterations of the Seamaster, it’s extremely rare to see that color combination in conjunction with sword hands and the classic dial pattern of trapezoidal hour indices.
ROUNDING OUT THE FIELD…
If the rest of the NTH Subs coming this spring look familiar, they should. Aside from the new, WatchGauge-exclusive Nazario Azzurro, we’ve made them all before, and we’ve been getting requests to bring all of them back.
The Scorpène Black was one of the first 8 NTH Subs produced, and hasn’t been produced since, so it’s the one people have been requesting the longest. The Scorpène (“skohr-pehn”) is our version of the classic “big-number pilot” watch, inspired by cockpit clocks, featuring the large, 3-6-9-12 in Copperplate font, invented in 1901.
Also coming back for the first time are three versions of the Barracuda - brown, not seen since 2017, and blue, first produced in 2018, to join the new-for-2019 Barracuda Vintage Black. The Barracuda Brown and Barracuda Blue harken back to the Blue/Gold and “Root Beer” Brown/Gold color schemes of the 1970s, whereas the Barracuda Vintage Black recalls gilt-relief dials of the 1950s.
Joining the Barracudas are perennial favorites from the Näcken (“nehk-ehn”) family – the Näcken Modern Black, Näcken Modern Blue, Näcken Vintage Blue, and Näcken Renegade, all of which were inspired by the watches with “snowflake” hour hands issued to combat divers in the French Navy, the Marine Nationale.
Last but not least is the Santa Cruz, a blend of design cues from the 1950s and 1970s. The white, quilted “waffle” dial with blue print is perfectly paired with the dazzling blue of the brushed steel bezel, and complemented by the vintage-lume hands and markers.
*Cover Photo by @randomrob_youtube
Interested in one of the NTH Subs? Be sure to contact your closest NTH Retailer to get on their waiting list.