anOrdain Model 1: Enamoured with Enamel
By: Aggressive Timing Habits
The Model 1 is the debut watch from Glasgow-based anOrdain. The brand’s name comes from Loch anOrdain in the Scottish Highlands, a lake apparently so remote that it can’t be found neither on Google Maps nor Wikipedia. Perhaps the only way to find this loch, then, would be to study old ordnance survey maps, or OS maps, such as the ones which inspired the typeface and overall design of the anOrdain Model 1.
I had been following this brand since late 2018 and spent months trying to decide between the six dial colors they offered before finally choosing the pink-dialed Model 1 in February. The company’s founder, Lewis, arranged for me to be able to pick up the watch at Windup San Francisco from Morna and Sally, two of the enamelers, and it is my personal watch that I’m writing up for this review.
The dial is the most well-known and absolutely the most striking feature of anOrdain’s watch lineup. The dials are vitreous, or grand feu, enamel dials, crafted through a painstaking process that carries a relatively high failure rate and therefore a bit of a higher cost. The result, though, is a dial that can offer rich colors that don’t fade and offer tremendous depth, playing with light in a shimmery way that feels strangely watery or even organic.
It’s hard to capture this in photos or even videos, but seeing the brand’s promotional shots on Instagram drew me in and getting a chance to handle the watch itself has only increased my love of this enamel dial.
Due to the nature of the enamel dial, it’s impossible simply to cut out a hole for the hands. Instead the entire dial seems to pour gracefully toward the center, adding to that organic effect. I applaud the choice of going for a time-only dial, as it really adds to the tranquility of the whole piece. The pale pink dial of my watch looks a little speckly in the light or under macro, giving almost an eggshell effect that is frankly a little mesmerizing.
The hour markers, numerals, and subtle anOrdain logo at 9 o’clock are painted onto the dial in a more vibrant, reddish pink, and the minute track, minute numerals, and “vitreous” and “British Made” wording is applied in a bright blue. These colors vary on the other dial types and are done in a metallic silver paint on the darker dials which is very striking to look at in person.
Emerging from that center divot are skeletonized syringe hour and minute hands, as well as a simple baton sweeping second hand, all in polished steel. The hour and minute hands may feel undersized to some as the minute hand doesn’t quite make it to the blue minute track, but to my eye there’s good variation between the sizes of each of the three hands as a result and everything seems in proportion on the whole. Additionally, the choice to go with skeletonized hands adds to the simplicity of the piece and offers greater visibility of the dial. This handset offers utility in terms of making it quick and easy to tell the time without trying to steal attention away from the dial.
Atop the whole thing sits a double-domed sapphire crystal with six layers of AR coating. I’m normally a fan of the warm of acrylic crystals, but in this case, the crystal offers a great window from which to look at that dial. There’s nothing here pulling away from the star billing, and that’s the way it ought to be.
The whole watch is encased in a nicely-shaped, polished steel case which is hardened to 800 Vickers. Compared to regular 316L stainless steel’s hardness of about 150 Vickers this is a clear improvement, and indeed after a few weeks of fairly regular wear the Model 1’s case seems to be pristine. It doesn’t quite offer the durability of, say, a Tegimented Sinn case or ice-hardened Damasko, but it’s nice to see the watch offer a little extra everyday durability which fits in nicely with the surveyor theme of the whole piece.
Case diameter is 38mm and lug-to-lug distance is 45mm on stubby lugs that curve slightly toward the wrist, making this watch quite suitable for a variety of wrist sizes. The 12.3mm case depth makes the whole thing feel just a little bit tall, but I’d imagine that the enamel dial adds a little bit to the thickness, and regardless the whole thing still fits easily under all but the tightest of shirt cuffs (at which point you may wish to ask yourself, “why am I wearing shirts with such tight cuffs?”).
Water resistance is 5 ATM, and the signed crown is of the push/pull variety, so the watch should do fine in the rain but should probably not go in the shower or underwater. Speaking of the crown, it’s lovely but quite a tiny little thing and I occasionally found that the winding action was a little bit fidgety. Not sure if this is due to the small size of the crown, the clumsiness of my hands, or perhaps something to do with the resistance of the movement itself (I suspect it’s the latter, as I’ve found some SW200 movements to be smooth to wind but a bit resistant when new) but this is a minor nitpick on an otherwise excellent watch.
Speaking of the movement, we have here an Elaboré-grade Sellita SW200-1 movement with a signed, darkened rotor. It’s easily viewable through the exhibition caseback, which is surrounded by a nicely detailed ring that just shows the anOrdain name again, the watch number (each color is part of a limited series of 300), and the “model 1” moniker. Again, everything back here is simple and elegant. Lug width is 18mm, and my particular unit came with an 18mm gray suede strap.
The leather is quite supple and of a nice quality, and anOrdain offers a number of strap choices including a Staib Milanese bracelet that adds £150 to the total price of the watch. anOrdain also sells the straps and bracelet as standalone pieces on its website. All models come with a 5-year warranty, which is excellent from a microbrand and something that even many large brands don’t offer and says something very, very good about the company’s belief in the quality of their work.
All in all, I think anOrdain have put together a really intriguing piece. The decision to pick up one of these watches was pretty easy for me; the hard part, and the decision that took me almost four months, was picking which color I wanted most. I’m really thrilled with the pink dial that I chose, but I had a chance to check out all six colorways of the model 1 at Windup and honestly it’s hard to go wrong with any of them.
Putting this watch on my wrist is almost instantly calming, and watching the light play off the imperfections in the enamel feels like I’m carrying this little perfect pool of light around with me, ensconced safely within a tough, hardened case (as long as I don’t take the thing with me underwater). Of all my watches, this is the one most able to settle my mood at any time – and honestly, that’s a pretty remarkable thing to say about a watch.
The anOrdain model 1 is available at anordain.com for £1050 (roughly $1350) on a strap and £1200 (roughly $1550) on a mesh bracelet.
Ever since his first watch, a talking Dick Tracy thing won in a local chicken impersonation contest at age five, Aggressive Timing Habits has been fascinated by all watches from Amphibias to Zeniths and the people who create and collect them. His contributions to TBWS represent a new outlet to discuss the miracle of drilled lugs and debate the virtues of balance bridges vs balance cocks, much to the relief of friends and loved ones.