Long ago in the sun-soaked days of the 70s and 80s, back when some still considered a Rolex to be a tool watch, there were luxury companies that, in an effort to branch out, expand their brand, and make people buy watches again, began to design and build their own sport watches. But while they were called “sport,” they were never “cheap.” These watches were built with names like Patek, Audemars Piguet, and Vacheron Constantine, just to name a few. These watches represented the ability to do everything a tool watch could do, but could also be worn by playboys at the local marina. These sharp angled beauties with their integrated bracelets would become legend to the people that could afford them. However, in the affordable market, the trend really died out over time and in the last decade really focused on the designs of the 60s. And just when you thought you’d actually throw yourself off a bridge if you saw another Pepsi bezel, a few watches have surfaced that harken back to an era of excess. And now, with Hot Boy Summer (or Hot Girl, we don’t discriminate) upon us, Wrist Hardware has released the Paramo, a watch that could be more than a summer fling.
Full disclosure, Wrist Hardware is literally one of us, appearing on the TBWS Slack from time to time, not as a vendor or promoter, per se, but just a regular person that joins in the conversation. TBWS even gets a mention or two on his website. This is the first watch from Wrist Hardware, and before I say anything about the watch, I wanted to address the name. Wrist Hardware. It’s not something that really rings of a made-up heritage and luxury watchmaking like, say, a watch with the name Duke Lion on it and a story of a fabled knight whose sword could shoot balls of fire. And that’s because they didn’t make anything up. They aren’t trying to spoon feed you a nonsensical background about their great grandad who found a piece of that sword and forged it into hardware he kept on his wrist. And while the name Wrist Hardware may want you to shy away from admitting you bought one, it shouldn’t. Because that’s exactly what it is. It’s not the son of Man and God and Lion, it’s a durable piece made for your everyday life.
If there was a word more effective than stunning, I’d use it to describe the case, the different areas of brushed and polished play with the light and dance across it in a way that’s absolutely brilliant and yet not so blingy that you’re afraid to wear it. And that’s the point really. Wrist Hardware wants you to actually wear it. According to the website, the case comes in at 40mm across and only 47.5mm lug-to-lug (Perfect for Steve) due to those beautifully angled lugs, and is built to withstand anything you can throw at it. The case is built almost like a tank, with the lugs almost dropping off a cliff. This gives the watch almost a squared off look and you’ll know right away that you won’t have to worry about deforming a lug on an adventure, or if you bang it on a door knob. The polished top contrasts with the brushed sides to beautifully mesh style and substance. At 12mm thick, the watch doesn’t wear like a house arrest bracelet, and there is a slight chamfer that runs across the top of the case sides, which gives the watch an even thinner appearance. The bottom of the lugs don’t extend any lower than the lowest part of the case back so that the watch sits flat on your wrist with very little gap.
The sharp cut bezel sits proudly on top of the watch and contrasts the case by being brushed on top and having polished sides. Again, this plays with the light, so that no angle disappears into another. This also gives, what appears to have a square physique, a normal round watch appearance. Now, given that the watch is expected to be worn, and most likely will, this is going to take some hits. While it’s angled inward, and some hits won’t be direct, imagine the bezel of a used Citizen Nighthawk. So, if you’re one of those people that can’t live with a ding or believe it doesn’t give it character, this watch isn’t for you and isn’t marketed for you. Don’t worry about the crystal, the double domed sapphire won’t take a scratch for normal everyday encounters, unless you work with jagged reinforced concrete or diamonds. The dome is slight also, almost flat, so it retains a modern look and won’t distort the edges. It’s also AR-coated on the inside so it won’t reflect everything within 50 feet, giving you a clear view of the dial. And finally, there’s a signed, screw-down crown and case back. The back giving you the info on the watch, the number of your edition, and reassuring you that the watch is 200m strong. Yes, if you plan to take it to the beach and wade around, you’ll be just fine. Wrist Hardware’s website says the case is guaranteed to 1,000ft. Is it a misprint on the site, or do they just under promise and over deliver?
The dial comes in four colorways, Obsidian, Polar, Patagonia Blue, and Emerald. All equally stunning, the blue and green are particularly beautiful because they show off the different facets of the sector dial more sharply. In the center, the dial starts with the textured pattern of a low grit sandpaper, or asphalt. There is no text on the dial and the watch is only represented by the Wrist Hardware logo. At first glance, I wasn’t a huge fan of the logo, but I learned that they wanted to present a single image on the dial like Rolex and Omega. Something you can easily identify at a glance. I also learned that the logo is stylized to represent strength, and what better way than the American Buffalo. And once you know that, you can see the gaze of the majestic beast staring back at you. The 5-minute indices are applied to a raised track that is finished for the sunburst effect, which is particularly effective on the green. You’ll think it was chiseled and stolen from the outer walls of OZ. All of the indices are triangular and coated in Super LumiNova BGW9 in blue and perfectly accents the diamond cut silvered hands. For a watch at this price point, it has a great brightness when it’s been out in the sun. Much brighter than some other divers that have come out lately will have to offer, believe it or not.
Finally, there’s the small second, radial sub dial at the bottom with a white second track that matches the white minute track on the outside of the dial. This was an interesting choice in my opinion. I feel most watches made these days would prefer the center second hand. And this is what caught me feeling that the watch reminded me of a luxury sports watch of old. To me, whether any of these companies actually did it or not, I could see a luxury company making a sport watch with a small second. We certainly have that now with the A. Lange & Sohne Odysseus and Patek Phillipe Nautilus has often come with some form of complication available at the six o’clock position. It feels like something a luxury watchmaker would keep to show that their DNA is still there. The sword hands also invoke feelings of the Nautilus, simple and bright. They’re easy to see against the dials, and the whole thing is easy to read at a glance. Second hand alignment was a little hit and miss between the four, and if it was me, I’d reduce the width of the hour a minute hands to further that elegant look. Overall, though, it’s a dial you can read easily and compliments the design of the case.
When you market your watch as a tool for adventure, you have to come with some tough hardware to keep it in place and the Paramo comes with a bracelet that matches its strength and beauty. The 20mm H-Link comes handsomely brushed with polished center links with the link closest to the watch measuring 24mm to give it the appearance of an integrated bracelet watch that tapers nicely to 18mm. This is the kind of taper I like, personally, and it works with the case to keep the watch from looking like it may have spent too much time at the oyster bar. The links are all solid, including the end link, and all feel well made. Because it’s an H-Link, it doesn’t sit flat on a table, but that’s not where the watch lives. Wrist Hardware thought of everything for this watch, even for those of you that might not be bracelet people. The lugs are drilled for easy removal, and Wrist Hardware offers an assortment of military style nylon straps with stainless hardware for you to customize your watch. Personally, I find seatbelt nylon to be a wee bit stiff, so I don’t wear it or prefer it, but I assure you, they are built to last. I also prefer the edge that the bracelet gives the watch case as a whole. To me, that’s part of the attraction. As far as the clasp goes, it’s your standard sport clasp with push-button release protected by a flip-lock. It won’t win awards, but it does the job, doesn’t feel sloppy, and firmly clicks into place.
Now, if I could levy a criticism that really is nit-picking, it would be the screw links. A criticism of screw links? How could I? I like screw links. I really do, and these even come with sealer to keep the threads from backing out, which is fantastic. However, almost all four watches had at least one screw head that was really poorly machined. This isn’t a big deal unless you’ve got thread locker working against you and your screwdriver wants to put big boy torque on it and strip the head. This almost happened to me. Hopefully, this is an isolated issue and most won’t have an issue with it.
Most of you know by now that I’m not really a quartz person. I own several, but I don’t prefer them, with that said, we all know that there are several iconic quartz watches from that era that have stood out among automatic brethren, among them being Seiko and Citizen watches, and even the Tag Heuer 2000. At first, I wasn’t excited about this being a quartz with its grand luxury looks, I felt like it was like wearing a three-piece suit to meet the President only to be caught with a sub-par pocket square. I was extremely premature feeling that way. The Ronda Slimtech 1069 was a great choice to keep the watch slimmed down. The specs are good at +/- 20 seconds a month, but we already knew this was going to be the case. Finally, the site claims it’s finished in gold for the little treat when you replace the battery. Overall, I like the watch in quartz. Quartz follows their motif of durability and longevity, and if it allows them to keep the case thin and elegant, that’s just icing on the cake.
Finally, the overall takeaway…
I’m sure when Wrist Hardware reads this, he may re-think having let me have it to review, but when I saw this watch initially, the pics didn’t do it justice, it didn’t catch me immediately, and I was less enthusiastic about its movement. But as they say boys and girls, thou shalt not judge a book by its cover. Having the watch in hand is completely different. The angles of the watch are incredible, and it seems to have no bad side as it catches light and color from all angles and places. Like an Airstream on Ocean Drive, this watch will dance in any light that surrounds it. The watch also exudes its form over function in its specifications. There’s no doubt that this watch could be used for any adventure or situation and while I had some “on the fence” feelings about the name and logo, they’re not trying to bullshit you, and that’s what’s ultimately respectable.
What Wrist Hardware has done is give you a great watch for anything from a mountain climb to negotiating your next raise in a handsome package that boasts modern specs with a look that would fit right in with luxury culture. And the great thing is that they’ve done it for just $295 while not coming off as a cheap knockoff. And this year, with the way things are going, that’s not really a lot at all for something with the specs and good looks this watch has. Even if you can’t afford a white Ferrari Testarossa, you can feel like you do. If you want a nice watch that doesn’t break the bank and doesn’t break if you take it outside, you can have it. If you’re worried about scratches, well, I mean, you can’t have an omelet without breaking some eggs. The Wrist Hardware Paramo is already a huge hit with the TBWS Slack channel, and it really won me over. The Paramo is a culmination of listening to what watch buyers want while doing your own thing and cutting the bullshit. And that is all I ever really want in a watch.
Baird is an avid motoring enthusiast and a self taught hobbyist watchmaker from Bristol, TN. He has a love for all things mechanical and has an affinity for the style late 60s and 70s Chronographs and Dive watches. Baird views watches as engineering marvels and tools for everyday life rather than just jewelry. His writing style is inspired by certain “British automotive journalists” and his own experiences growing up and living in a blue-collar society.