The perks of being a watch reviewer, is sometimes we get first dips on the prototype / sample to provide our initial honest opinion to the brand owner what we thought of. I am lucky enough to be approached by CJR Watches, to review their latest up-coming series, the Commander. I have been a fan of their latest model, Airspeed and found them to be an inspiring to other microbrand watches out in the market today, which is dare to be bold and different from the rest ! After more than a week of testing the sample sent to me, I’m finally ready to share what my thoughts are on their latest Commander series, but first, a little intro of the brand itself…
Background of the Founder, Mr. Calvin Ng
For Calvin Ng, horology is not simply a passion; it is a lifestyle, a symbol of tradition, and a cherished piece of family history. Growing up in a family of watchmakers that began with his grandfather in Hong Kong, Calvin’s earliest memories were of discussions about assembly, movement, and case shapes at the dinner table.
To Calvin, who went on to study aerospace engineering, and later, rose through the ranks as an accomplished manufacturing engineer and entrepreneur, watchmaking is synonymous with familial love and ambition. It is his ultimate quest to the relentlessly intriguing question: how do you continually innovate on watch design to make a statement timepiece that transcends ephemeral trends and cliched styles?
How do I rate the Commander series ?
So, you now know about the brand CJR Watches and the specifications of the upcoming Commander, here’s what my what I think of it and the review is purely based on the samples that I have received (changes could happen between now till the mass production for any other reasons). Let’s start !
- Case : I can see similarity between the previous model Airspeed and Commander, where the dome shape case magnifies the dial elements and the overall design within the case. This could be the trademark or signature move for the brand. So, whenever someone sees such dome shape case, they could easily resemble the brand itself. Felt very smooth on the curved edges and built of it is acceptable.
- Dial : Here’s my worry is… I love complicated dials, but if the design or the colours doesn’t stand out, it confuses the wrist owner. I love the turbine-inspired for the second movement… but wish it could have an outer ring to resemble the actual turbine engine on the plane. Didn’t fancy the 24 hour indicator at 9 o’clock position, as I find it really redundant (this is my personal view). Wish it could be replaced by something else more useful such as a day & night indicator (eg. moon phase dial concept). Also, the 24 hour indicator on mine is too small and not really visible to my eyes to tell the hour. I enjoy the honey-comb protector on top and bottom of the dial to protect the delicate internal pieces. Nice touch to add with the partial visible skeleton movement in front of the dial too !
- Hour and Minute Hand : Awesome ! I believe it’s custom-made and it resembles like a rocket with the top tip in red colour. It gives the watch an overall space-ship feel.
- Crown : Another design resembling the turbine engine. No engraving here, but maybe this could change during the mass production ? Really like how it’s designed that it decreases in terms of the diameter size.
- Movement : The chosen movement is definitely the popular choices among microbrand watches, because of its’ durability and reliability as well.
- Caseback : See through mineral glass. Nice touch to the already partial skeleton movement visible in front of the dial.
- Leather Strap : It felt like suede material on top… and the overall quality is excellent. The quick release feature is a nice addition to the expensive feel Italian leather strap. This makes changing of strap so much easier !
- Lume : Can be found on the hour marker around the case and the hour/minute hand. Wish the lume could be on the turbine-style second movement, so it would look so cool when it’s ticking…
Overall, the Commander has lived up to its’ expectation and possibly matching the success of their previous 2 model’s – Velocita and Airspeed. No doubt that current owners of CJR Watches would add this into their watch collection without any hesitation, and for newbies of CJR, it depends on the value they would offer in their upcoming Kickstarter campaign, targeted to launch sometime end of June or early July. In the meantime, you could sign up on their website to get the notification once it’s live on Kickstarter. Judging from their previous Kickstarter campaign and the feedback, I can see Mr. Calvin and his team being responsive to their backer’s question as well as fulfilling their credibility as a brand.
UPDATE: The campaign is now live on Kickstarter.
Before I end, here’s some of my personal photoshoots of the Commander for your viewing.