If you were not yet convinced that micro/independent brands are innovative, perhaps you will be after reading this article. And it is the innovative nature of small/young/unknown brands that pushes me to write about them again and again. There are some gems out there that I would love for you to get acquainted with. Granted, what is strange and outside the box won’t necessarily please everyone, at least aesthetically. But maybe we can agree that there is merit in treading outside of the beaten path. After all, if microbrands were not, then we wouldn’t have such a vibrant independent watch market and a great variety of options. 

And here at Fratello, we aren’t afraid of showing something we find interesting yet perhaps strange. If we were, we wouldn’t have written about the Studio Underd0g PepperOni and Hawaiian Chronographs or had Thomas write a whole article about the lack of subtlety in watch design. See? We’re a bunch of jolly watch enthusiasts here. So today is no different as we’ll be talking about Namica’s upcoming Okami, meaning “wolf” in Japanese. This is the second model from the brand after the Shirahama. It will be launching on Kickstarter on February 6th, 2024. 

Namica Okami Turbo Blue on wrist

A bold statement on your wrist

There are those who like making a statement, those who don’t, and others who unconsciously flex. Given that Namica is not a mainstream brand, then you’ll be making a statement by wearing the Okami. And here, I’m not even (yet) talking about its dimensions but its appearance — its character, if you will. At first glance, the Okami has an imposing figure with a case that is extremely geometrical and sharp. In a way, it reminds me of an RZE Resolute or Boldr Odyssey MGP. We can already see a trend going on here: Asian brands don’t shy away from adding angles to their cases. 

More specifically, the Okami has massive lugs that either make up some of the case sides or vice-versa. Their visual imprint is even more spectacular given the apparent vertical brushing on the upper sections of the lugs and flat, fixed bezel. And while the case has a more or less rectangular profile, the bezel is octagonal. This creates an interesting contrast between the two sections of the watch. Furthermore, note how the bezel shape is repeated on the dial, which further emphasizes the Okami’s unusual design. 

Namica Okami Turbo Blue

Lastly, I would say that the way the applied hour markers are laid out contributes to this effect. Indeed, because of the dial shape, the markers on the right and left sides are further from the hands than the ones on the top and bottom. This contributes to making the watch look wider. Whether or not this is a good thing, though, is totally up to you.  

The six versions of the Namica Okami

To make things even more interesting, Namica decided to make six versions of this model. The first is the Neo Tokyo, which is reminiscent of the Shirahama Neo Tokyo. This one, like the two additional color variants, either comes with a matte titanium case or a black DLC-treated one. The Neo Tokyo is characterized by a purple dial complemented by vertical brushing and an intense dégradé effect. In other words, the dial turns black towards the hour markers, making them easier to read given their dark surrounds. On this version, the bright BGW9, which appears white in the daytime, makes the hands and markers extremely legible. 

Namica Okami Turbo Blue pocket shot

Then we have the Turbo Blue version, which comes with a matte, flashy neon blue color. Here, the dark hour markers and hands are also filled with Super-LumiNova BGW9 (with a hint of C3). However, this dial gets a matte finish that helps make it extremely legible.

Namica Okami Kurayami

However, “legibility” is not the best word to describe the third and last version of the Okami, the Kurayami. Taking its name from the Japanese word for “darkness” (暗闇), the Kurayami has a black vertically brushed dial, blacked-out hands and indices, and C3 mixed with black paint to complete the Dark Lord look. The Kurayami certainly looks cool and badass, but it won’t win a gold medal for legibility. 

Namica Okami Neo Tokyo Black DLC lume

The full spec sheet

In terms of dimensions, the Okami measures 39mm wide, 47mm long, 10.7mm thick, and 22mm between the lugs. As mentioned earlier, it is this case’s architecture more than its dimensions that gives it an imposing look. And as tough as it looks, it’s made to be tough as well. The gray version is made of Grade 2 titanium and coated with something called A.T. Shield. This is a trademarked, proprietary hardening coating bringing the titanium’s scratch resistance to 1,200 HV on the Vicker’s scale. According to my lightning-fast research, this is pretty impressive since naked Grade 2 titanium has a Vickers hardness ranging from 150 to 250 HV. The black DLC version, however, has a hardness rating of 5,000 HV. Therefore, whichever version you choose, you’ll have yourself a tough watch. 

Inside the reinforced shell, we find a premium Miyota 9039 movement. This 4Hz caliber offers a 42-hour power reserve and is visible through a sapphire window on the case back. Printed on this crystal is the Japanese kanji for “wolf” (狼). The top crystal is also sapphire and comes complete with an antireflective coating.

Namica Okami Neo Tokyo Black DLC on wrist

The lume, as mentioned earlier, is different in each version. We have BGW9 on the Neo Tokyo, a mix of BGW9 and C3 on the Turbo Blue, and blacked-out lume for the Kurayami. Lastly, know that the Okami is water resistant to 100 meters thanks to a screw-down crown and case back. 

Namica Okami Kurayami pocket shot

The Kickstarter campaign

And yes, the Okami will be another Kickstarter-backed release as Namica is still quite young in the game. It will start on Tuesday, February 6th, 2024, at 22:00 JST / 13:00 GMT / 08:00 EST. The Super Early Bird Price will be US$429 and limited to the first 50 units. The Early Bird will be US$449 and limited to 100 units. After that, the Kickstarter deal will be US$469 with a full retail price of US$630. By default, the Okami will be shipped on a custom-made FKM rubber strap. 

However, Namica added the stretch goal of a titanium bracelet with on-the-fly micro-adjustments. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the brand reaches the stretch goal! 

Final thoughts

Let’s face it: what makes the Okami shine is how different it looks from what we see every day. Its appearance isn’t too similar to anything else. And maybe I’m being overly optimistic here, but I don’t get any sense of familiarity when looking at it. The Okami is a watch that’s bold, angular, and tough. I wanted to add “urban” to the title because I feel this is a watch for cool city dwellers. However, I’d say that the 100m water resistance rating, the hardened case, and the solid movement could make it a great piece for exploring or whatever you fancy doing with it.

I said it already, and I’ll say it again: the Okami shines more for being novel than it does for its specs. If you don’t like this type of design, it’s safe to say that you won’t be backing this Kickstarter campaign. But if you fancy something bold and unusual, then this is the watch for you. But these are just my thoughts. What do you think of the Okami, and which version would you go for?