Nezumi Loews “John Player Special” Review

By Greg Bedrosian

The first review that I did as a contributor for Two Broke Watch Snobs was a Nezumi Voiture. At the time, Nezumi Studios was new in the boutique independent watch world. Today, Nezumi Studios is a maturing company with four watch models and handful of other complimentary accessories such as mechanic’s gloves and race lap-timers.

The Loews Ref. LQ1S.622 is a “Nezumi Special” small batch run. It’s strikingly different from their other models. With its black and gold colors, it is dubbed the “John Player Special”. While I was chatting with David Campo, the owner of Nezumi Studios, he had to explain to me what John Player was. Cigarette advertising is a becoming a distant memory for me. I had to do a few follow-up Google searches. A picture of a gold Lotus in front of a black and gold turbo-prop with the John Player tobacco company logo on it summed it all up. The “JPS” livery and vibe of the era instantly made sense.

From a historical racing standpoint it’s all there. There are so many connections with the LQ1S.622. The gold and black Rolex Daytona Ref 6241 has often been referred to as the “JPS Daytona”. The “Loews” was a hotel in Monaco located on a famous Formula 1 hairpin turn. Take all that in and then check out David’s restored vintage Porsche 911 . As we break down this watch and look at the pictures you will begin to see how it’s all connected.

The Case:

The first thing about the case that catches the eye is the gold color. The Nezumi Loews Special has a brushed gold-colored DLC case. Unlike polished gold, the brushing really helps soften the otherwise striking hue.

Dimensions for the Loews are spot on. A 40mm width and 47mm from lugs to lugs puts the watch in the “Goldilocks Zone” for most enthusiasts. The case shape is similar to Nezumi’s other two chronographs, with subtle differences. The 6mm flanks are a little taller on the Loews when compared to the cases of the Voiture and the Corbeau.

There is no rotating bezel on the Loews. The Tachymetre scale is under the glass. This was a great choice to keep the Loews clean with a smooth bezel. It also adds to the versatility of the watch. I was surprised how warm the gold felt in direct sunlight. Different lighting conditions impacted the overall feel of the Loews. I didn’t expect that.

Nezumi uses a double-domed sapphire crystal with all of their chronographs. The listing on their website says that the Loews is 11.75mm tall. That’s the case only. There is a growing number of companies that break out the case height separately. I measured 14mm including the domed glass. Despite the height measurement, the Loews didn’t feel tall on my wrist.

I love exposed pushers on chronographs. The 5mm pushers and the 5.5mm crown sit just right. The crown is signed with the Nezumi “N”.


 

The case back prominently features the “N” again, “11” (the year that the company was established), “STHLM SWE” (Stockholm, Sweden) and their mission, “Creating Bonds”.

The Dial:

Not all black dials are created equal. This one is deep when contrasted against the gold subdials. The combo should feel over the top, but it’s not.

My preference on a chronograph is a three-subdial layout. Nezumi Studio has selected a two-register layout often referred to as a “bi-compax”. The layout still works and is balanced to the eye. There is no running seconds subdial. If you are annoyed by the quartz “tick” on the running seconds hand, the Loews is for you.

The subdials add depth by sitting below the black dial. A “sandwich dial” is a two-or-more-piece dial that is constructed by stacking the pieces on each other. Besides creating visual depth, this design trick gives the subdial hands enough clearance under the hour hand.

The tachymetre scale is on the outside of the dial, not on the bezel. It’s a subtle change that transforms the wearer from a NASA-fanboy into a gentleman racer.

A standout feature that is unique to the Specials Line Ref. LQ1S.622 is the gold colored hands. They are the same syringe-style that is found on the other Loews models, but these match the John Player color scheme. Don’t expect strong lume on the hands or the hour markers. The Super Luminova is there to check a box, but it’s not important on a vintage inspired chronograph.

The Movement:

Nezumi Studios uses Seiko Meca-quartz movements in their chronographs. While that isn’t shocking now, Nezumi was an early adopter of these hybrid movements. The Seiko VK63 and VK64 movements are very important because they allowed boutique-independent brands to use chronograph designs in that market space while maintaining affordability.

The differentiator with the Seiko VK63 and VK64 movements is the feel during use. Enthusiasts know the difference between a traditional quartz chronograph and the snap of a mechanical pusher. You can read more about the VK63 in my reviews for the (Nezumi Voiture and the Dan Henry 1964 ).

The difference in the VK64 that is used in the Loews is the number of subdials. The VK64 only has two subdials compared to the VK63’s three. The VK64 omits the running seconds subdial at six-o’clock. I thought that it would bother me, but keeping subdials at three and nine-o’clock retains the dial balance. The lack of a date function keeps it clean.

By eliminating the running seconds subdial, your also eliminate the quartz tick. You might be hard pressed to distinguish the Loews from a mechanical chronograph costing close to ten times the price.

The Strap:

The Nezumi Studios “Rindt” rally strap is one of my favorites. The taper from 20mm to 18mm is perfect. For a more in-depth review of the strap please refer back to my review of the Voiture .

The main point that I’d like to emphasize is that you should absolutely buy a second strap. Nezumi Studio’s “Hunt” is a single-stitch with no racing holes that can really dress this watch up. Go with an extra OEM and switch-out as needed. You won’t find an aftermarket strap that is a better match than the Rindt and the Hunt.

Final Thoughts:

Is it easy to tell time? No.

Would I #watchfast it? No.

Should you care about those answers being “No”? Not at all. Many chronographs don’t tell the time as easily as a dive watch does. It’s not a big deal. The second “No” is misleading as well. I’m not really a “yellow gold” guy (ask me again in ten years and I might have a different answer).

I don’t think that the John Player Special would be an enthusiast’s first watch. It does make a fantastic addition that diversifies a collection. The LQ1S.622 would be something unique that I would wear to make something a little more special. It could be something like a date with a significant other. It could also be for a special event. Maybe a daytrip to a car or boat show. You could also enjoy it at home unwinding with a craft cocktail.

The Nezumi Loews LQ1S.622 is a limited fifty piece run. If gold is not your thing don’t worry. Nezumi Studios currently has plans to produce a few other limited runs every year as well as the Loews in a variety of regular production colors. If you are really into the JPS thing, don’t hesitate to shell out $447 USD. This is one of the most inside baseball watches that I’ve come across in a while.


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