anOrdain Model 2
This Unique Field Watch Is Perfect for the Design-Obsessed
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Product: Model 2
Release Date: Fall 2019
When they released their initial watch, the Model 1, in 2018, anOrdain grabbed our attention by its lapels. Here was an indie watch brand — a Scottish one –making an affordable grand feu-dialed watch. The dials sang, in beautiful colors, which was rare enough. But so did the rest of the watch: a spare, clean design, with a sensible case shape and unique typography inspired by a vintage map of the area around Loch anOrdain in northern Scotland.
In 2019, the company released their second watch, called simply the Model 2. It has the same affordability and grand feu enamel dial, with a palate of beautiful and interesting colors. But they tweaked the case and the feel of the entire watch significantly; rather than a simple 38mm 3-hander, this was 36mm. AnOrdain’s founder, Lewis Heath, told me they were excited that it had a “field watch feel.” Other reviewers have called it a tool watch. Compounded with the fact anOrdain discontinued the Model 1 in 2019, and there was a lot of pressure on this watch.
What We Like
Like the Model 1, the Model 2’s grand feu enamel dial is gorgeous in person. Color options are striking and unique. In fact, the design of this watch is unlike anything else out there — something you can’t say that about many other indie brands these days. Plus, at 36mm, it’s the perfect size for people who enjoy watches on the smaller side; more and more brands are putting out 38mm and 39mm watches these days, but few dare go this small. It works beautifully.
Who It’s For
Aesthetes, engineers, and architects. Yes, it’s got a few field watch features, like a movement with shock protection. But the styling of this watch is not at all for the dive watch- or tough beater field watch- set. It’s for watch lovers who like highly stylized watches, and who appreciate indie brands that strike out on their own when it comes to design.
Watch Out For
A purple watch sounds fantastic, but you might worry about not being able to match your look every day; should you go with the more plain grey and white? (A proper buyer’s conundrum.) Though very small, the Model 2 actually wears more like a 38mm due to its large crown guard. And even though its sapphire crystal has 6 layers of anti-reflective coating, I still found it reflective and hard to read in the sunlight. Oh, and the handwound Sellita SW210-1 has shock protection, which is great, but I found its roughly 38 hours of power reserve to require a bit too much winding. (Then again, maybe I’m a spoiled automatic guy.)
The anOrdain Model 1, for one — but that’s been discontinued, which I find a great shame. Seiko’s Presage line is another great reasonably affordable take on the enamel dial look, and the three-hander comes in at about the same price. As far as unique design goes, you could call Nick Harris over at Orion Watches a similarly bold indie designer; NOMOS also comes to mind.
The first concern when choosing an anOrdain watch is color. All the options are beautiful and interesting: the Model 2 is currently offered online in Torr Blue, Moss Green, Purple, Midnight Green, Grey, and White. (Not to mention the dazzling fumé dials, which go for ~$1,948.) I quickly realized I was spoiled for choice. Each of these was unconventional enough to warrant pause, even for a guy who enjoys his baby-blue, bakelite-bezeled Zodiac Sea Wolf.
One of the striking fumé dial Model 2 watches
The question of which color to pick throws the bigger question of the watch into focus. What is this watch? How would I wear it? If it’s an everyday wearer, would purple make sense? If it’s a field watch, would I want light blue to match the sky, or deep green to blend with the forest?
Eventually I settled (maybe I chickened out) on a grey dial. The idea here was to wear it every day, in a variety of uses, and I didn’t want to limit those by choosing a particularly bold color. The grey, in person, fit this use very well. Like grey eyes, it seemed to shift color depending on its surroundings: against a rare LA grey sky, it seemed dark; against lively greenery, it took on an olive hue.
The grand feu enamel dial is a selling point of the watch, and in person it did not disappoint. The enamel is slightly mottled when viewed up close, the subtlest kaleidoscope of hues. The slight dimple at the dial’s center, where the base of the hands connect, is one of my favorite peculiarities of the watch; it feels handmade, and yet perfect. The hand-painted hour markers in black and silver are gorgeous, with a different feel than those of the Model 1. The skeletonized syringe hands, alternatively, were a little disappointing: they felt a bit too stylized for my liking, and the luminous finishing on their tips looked a little rough.
At 36mm it’s oddly sized for the current market, but I personally found it the perfect fit: I’m constantly complaining that no brand makes a good, complete watch like my old Zodiac Sea Wolf, which is 35.5mm and doesn’t feel small at all. The Model 2 actually wears quite large on the wrist — I’d guess it closer to 38mm, if I didn’t know the diameter.
This is because the case is quite a hunk of metal. Not in respect to thickness — it’s 11mm, with a curved case back, and wears very comfortably on the wrist. No, the size here is because of its unique design. The brushed steel bezel is hearty, while not dive-watch thick. The crown guards arch out imposingly to cup the crown. When you look at it closely, you see the beauty of the design and its excellent execution. When you glance, you just get the sense that it’s big and solid, maybe a little chubby.
Which is, I think, what Heath was talking about when he said it had a field watch feel. Truth is, beyond that pleasant chunkiness, I found its vibe to be the exact opposite. Wearing it on a hike, I was vexed: why did this thing feel so odd and out of place? Then I saw it: with its suede strap, architectural case, utilitarian hands and highly stylized hour markers, it wasn’t the watch of some roughneck explorer. It was the watch of an architect, an engineer, an aesthete.
I love the anOrdain Model 2 because it’s different. Enough already with the Submariner homages. Indie brands that boldly do their own thing are rare these days. Does anOrdain pull the Model 2 off perfectly? Not quite. But its grand feu dial selling point shines in person, and its aggressive reach for something different is admirable, and the right fit for the right type of watch lover.
What Others Are Saying:
• “We often associate modern, oversized watches with durability and ruggedness, but anOrdain understands that it’s not size, but design, that makes a watch appropriate for the field. There’s nothing delicate about the Model 2 — you can imagine it simply existing on your wrist unobtrusively until it’s called upon.” — Zach Kazan, Worn & Wound
• “The size is one of its biggest assets, disappearing on your wrist as you go about your day, whether on the hiking trail, beach or office. It’s both outdoorsy and elegant, and I quickly grew to appreciate its small dimensions.” — Erik Slaven, Monochrome
anOrdain provided this product for review.
We tour the anOrdain workshop with founder Lewis Heath. Read the Story