One of the biggest characters in the microbrand watch world is undoubtedly Chris Vail of Lew & Huey fame. Love him or hate him there’s no denying he takes his business seriously. One of the earliest pioneers of Kickstarter crowdfunded watches, Chris launched Lew & Huey in 2013 with the successful crowdfunding of the Riccardo Chronograph. Since then he’s gone on to successfully fund 6 models on Kickstarter under the Lew & Huey brand. Successfully transitioning away from crowdfunding, Chris has expanded his stable. In a similar Google/Alphabet rebranding, he’s created Janis Trading Company which sells Lew & Huey and his new brand, NTH.
For this review I have two NTH dive watches, the new Amphion Vintage Blue and the Näcken Vintage Black. These particular models sold out their first production run with the second run opening for preorder in a few days on 17 April 2017.
The watches have the same case, bracelet, crown, back and movement with only the bezel, face and hands being different. Both of my examples are without a date window, which is optional on the Näcken. According to Chris, the NTH brand can stand for either “nod to history”, referring to their new twists of classic watch designs or “Nth degree”, meaning the designs are as far as they can go. You decide!
The Amphion name comes from a class of sixteen commissioned submarines used by the Royal Navy from 1945 to 1974. The Näcken name was also used on a class of three submarines used by the Swedish and Royal Danish Navy’s in the late 1970’s. It seems appropriate to me that some dive watches take on names associated with naval operations. Both watches are 40 mm in diameter, only 11.5 mm thick and 20 mm between lugs and hug the wrist nicely. The watches and the bracelets are made of 316L stainless and use a slightly raised double domed anti reflective sapphire crystal. Both watches are rated for 300 meters of water resistance.
I really admire both watches for using fully lumed, solid 120 click stainless unidirectional bezels and the company’s signature lumed screw down crown. The Amphion uses “old radium” color lume on the hands, hour indices and bezel pip. C3 is used on the Amphion’s bezel minutes and triangle. The Näcken uses “natural” color lume on hands and hour indices. C3 is used on all of the Näcken bezel markings, including the pip. I have not seen better or more complete lume on any other dive watches.
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Both watches use the very popular Miyota 9015 automatic movement; 28,800 bph. 24 jewels and 42 hour reserve. Though rated -10/+30 seconds a day, my examples are under 10 seconds a day fast. The substantial and solid gear edged crown works as it should. The Amphion uses round vintage markers on a sandpaper blue dial, except at 12 o’clock where it has a classic downward facing triangle and three, six and nine o’clock where it uses rectangular markers, identical to vintage Rolex and Tudor Submariners. It also uses brushed stainless sword hour and minute hands and a spear-tipped brushed stainless second hand. The Näcken’s sandpaper dial uses square markers in place of round markers with chunkier three, six and nine o’clock markers and the slightly thicker downward facing triangle at 12 o’clock. The Näcken hour and second hands differ by being a brushed stainless in a snowflake design. Both watches have white minute/second markers around the outer edge of the dial.
The stainless bezels of the Amphion and Näcken are well engraved and completely lumed, with the Amphion also having lumed minute markers at all points rather than just at five minute intervals. Both watches have solid 316L stainless bracelets that are well made and comfortable. Tolerances between the links, the end links and the case are very good with drilled lugs to make bracelet/strap changing easier. The flip lock push button clasps are tastefully signed and the two larger folding links are thick and well finished. Every stainless part of the watch has a brushed finish, except for a polished thin area along the upper edge of the lugs and the outer edge of the screw down back. The screw down back also has three engraved NTH logos in a circle alternating with the engraved words “316L Steel”, “Automatic” and “Sapphire”.
The watches are very comfortable, very well made and look great. I particularly like their clean designs with no crown guard and in these two examples for purists, no date windows. Two particular details that stand out for me are the end links both attach to the middle links of the bracelets, eliminating annoying gaps on both sides of the case where the end link attaches to the case. The other detail that I really appreciate is the available non standard face and bezel colors on these models, which stands out from the ordinary and look great. The Amphion is also available in two additional variations, dark gilt and vintage black. The Näcken is also available in vintage blue and vintage black. The Amphion Vintage Blue
and the Näcken Vintage Black
are both offered at $475 each for pre order beginning 17 April. In stock prices are $600 or $625 each, depending on model and features. I highly recommend this microbrand! janistrading.com
Bert Kanne is a freelance contributor to MBWW with a love for well made dive watches and chronographs. All photos by Bert Kanne unless otherwise noted.