Hands-on Anonimo Nautilo Vintage Review
Italians know how to go stylish. And Anonimo, the Swiss brand with Italian roots is no exception. With their new model, they enter slightly new ground with a bit more moderate dimensions and the right dose of a vintage touch. The result is eye-candy.
Anonimo’s signature consists of expressive masculine watches that frequently come in bright colours. Their strength is tool watches. And they prefer to walk off the beaten track. They were the first to present a dive watch with a case made of bronze. They have created several models with extreme depth ratings. Anonimo’s new model is not as loud as its sisters. Examining its details is a lesson in design.
Even though the brand exists since 1997 and undeniably presents significant potential, it continuously kept under the radar and was more of an insider tip. I could imagine that this is going to change with the new Nautilo Vintage.
During last Baselworld Anonimo presented themselves on the 3rd floor of the Hyperion Hotel. The Hyperion, although located directly at the Baselworld plaza, is not part of the fair’s official exhibition area. Therefore smaller brands can get in contact with the Baselworld audience at significantly lower costs than with a booth in the big halls. Anonimo was located among a sophisticated neighbourhood formed by the brands H. Moser & Cie. , De Bethune, Hautelence and Vulcain, which, since 2017 is Anonimo’s sister brand.
The area reserved for Anonimo was surprisingly crowded. Large groups of attendees were excitedly handing around and discussing the new models. Such an interest is positive feedback for a smaller brand.
The first model of the Anonimo Nautilo Vintage line, which was disclosed to the public is the model with a blue sunburst dial. That dial intensely plays with light. Fine rays are ranging in colour from dark grey-blue to almost white and everything in between spread from the centre. It has got a finely brushed surface which prevents it from reflecting like a mirror.
The next detail that stands out is the thin blue ceramic bezel inlay. Bezel inlays usually cover as much as possible of the bezel’s surface. But here a thin ring of circular brushed steel is left between the bezel inlay and the dial. This, I think, is one of the significant design tricks that cause the elegant impression of this watch. Numerals every 10 Minutes and dashes for the 5-minute intervals in-between are a standard for dive watch bezels. No minute scale, not even for the first 15 minutes is unusual. With this design, the Nautilo Vintage loses its ISO 6425 compliance. But it gains clarity and elegance. As you will find out the role of a diving instrument is not an essential design guide for this watch. But the bezel can only be turned counter-clockwise.
Applied baton hour markers and baton hour and minute hands form a consistent and pleasing image to read the time. Don’t worry about the double baton markers at 4 and 8. This is an Anonimo signature and with the double markers at 12 intends to indicate the letter A like Anonimo. The thin second hand is emphasised by a diamond-shaped surface which adds another place to be covered by Super-LumiNova like the other hands, the hour indexes and the zero spot on the bezel. So even in darkness, you can not only read the time but assure yourself that your watch is still running. There is a date window at six which impairs the vintage touch of this watch. But a date indication is practical, and Anonimo integrated it in a relatively unobtrusive way. At the six o’clock position, it is in balance with the text printed on the dial.
The chapter ring includes minute markers for accurate reading and even a sub-second scale, which is more common for chronographs. The prototypes shown in Basel had four sub-second marks between two-minute markers matching the five intervals per second of a 5 Hz movement. But the movement inside the Anonimo Nautilo Vintage is the 4 Hz Sellita SW 200-1. First press images showed the correct number of 3 sub-second ticks. We will see if Anonimo fixes this in the final design. It’s just a minimal detail. But, if you add this detail, please, do it correctly. A clear view on that dial is ensured by an anti-reflective coating on a sapphire crystal.
In the version with blue dial the hour markers, the chapter ring and the indications in the bezel inlay are coloured in a yellowish faux patina. The luminous paint on the hands is white, like the background of the date.
Already heavily seduced by the model with a blue dial I was even more attracted by a version with a gradient dial in a hue between dark brown and dark grey. Had I not read that this version is called “Chocolat” I would have sworn that it would be grey and that the warm hue resulted from artificial light. It is quite unsaturated brown. And most important: It looks fantastic! Here all markers and indications and also the hands (but not the background of the date) have an off-white colour which cannot be regarded as some kind of faux patina but is another example of a design that respects even the tiniest nuances.
In Basel Anonimo also presented prototypes of the Nautilo Vintage with a non-gradient chocolate brown sunburst dial and one with a plain white dial. These versions exhibit further variations of a more or less aged white on markers and hands and in the bezel.
All of Anonimo’s watches have a cushion-shaped case, and so does this one. The edges of that cushion base align with the outer rim of the bezel so that only the corners protrude. The right side of the case is extended by a stylish guard that reminds of the lever in a minute repeater watch to protect the screw-down crown at four o’clock. Curved lugs which are optically separated from the case body ensure a comfortable fit on your wrist.
Most surfaces of the steel case are brushed. Only a few accents are polished, which adds the right dose of finesse without losing the tool character and without giving the watch a bling-bling charisma.
The screwed back of the case carries a sapphire window offering a view on the Sellita SW 200-1. Here, I would have preferred a closed back. A beautiful engraving would have delighted me more than the view on a relatively dull standard movement. But this doesn’t hurt as you can’t see it when you are wearing the watch. And it doesn’t impair the 200 m depth rating of the watch.
The diameter of the case is 42mm. Looking at the watch on my 19cm wrist, I find this hard to believe. The Nautilo Vintage seems big! I have watches with a size of 44mm that appear smaller on my wrist. This is caused by the cushion shape and the thin bezel inlay. But as the watch, in fact, is more modest, it rests comfortably at least on slightly stronger wrists.
With a height of a little less than 12mm the case is neither flat nor bulky. It is just thick enough to be accepted as a tool watch without being top-heavy – the perfect dimension for this watch.
The bracelet consists of three rows of links of which the outer links are brushed, and the centre links are polished. There you’ve got the bling! I consider this a concession to the elegance theme of this watch. And I didn’t experience these polished links too shiny.
The bracelet matches the watch, is well made and leaves an impression of robustness. It is comfortable. On the other hand, there are bracelet designs that better integrate the bracelet into the watch case.
What I liked about this bracelet is the folding clasp. It’s a robust and functional piece of metal, not just that kind of steel sheet we see way too often used as clasps. It has a distinctive design (here we are back in the design lesson), and a safety clip secures it.
The bracelet is wide, 22mm I would guess. This adds to the perceived size and hence to the masculinity of the watch.
Anonimo offers this watch also on leather straps in several colours. You might think that a leather strap and a dive watch don’t match. But then you would underestimate Anonimo. They own a patent for a process named KODIAK K to treat leather, making it resistant to water. And these straps do not only look good. They are comfortable. The buckle on these straps, like the bracelet clasp, has a distinctive Anonimo design that matches the watch and that adds just another indication that someone cared about the design of this watch.
Even though the Nautilo Vintage provides anything that a real dive watch needs, there are other watches on the market that serve better as an instrument for diving. The beautiful dials, for example, don’t enhance legibility. But that is not the purpose of this watch. Anonimo adds a notable member to the family of elegant sports watches. I am repeating myself: It is damn beautiful.
The Anonimo Nautilo Vintage has got a distinctive design that is elaborated down to the smallest detail. Several other brands with much higher esteem miserably failed in creating an elegant sports watch transporting their signature. Instead of that, they just presented inferior copies of popular designs. Anonimo does it better. Much better. And they even offer their impressive result for an attractive price.
The Anonimo Nautilo Vintage is announced to be available in July already. Check out the official Anonimo website for more information (and direct ordering).