Hands-On with the AnOrdain Model 2; the Ultimate 2-Watch Collection
The ultimate 2-watch collection
Gm. The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is here, and the Swatch ‘How Majestic’ featuring Her Majesty, her corgis, and a tiny handbag (photo at the end) is the perfect celebration watch. In this week’s ‘sletter:
A closer look at AnOrdain’s new watch and its handmade vitreous enamel dials (also, wtf is “vitreous”?)
The ultimate two-watch collection
Releases from MB&F, Massena Lab, and Rexhep Rexhepi
Hands-On: The New AnOrdain Model 2
The enamel dial-makers from Scotland. If you know AnOrdain, this is probably what you know about the Glasgow, Scotland-based workshop and design studio founded in 2015. The brand has perfected the technique of producing vitreous enamel dials (more on this in a moment) in a way that doesn’t feel inaccessible or stuffy, the way old-school horology so often does.
AnOrdain’s first release was the Model 1 in 2018, quickly following it with the Model 2, the Glasglow brand’s take on a field watch. It was a huge success, but AnOrdain retired the first generation of the Model 2 in 2021.
Now AnOrdain is back with an updated Model 2. It’s mostly similar to the old Model 2, but with a few tweaks. AnOrdain has managed to master this playful-but-traditional aesthetic that I’m not sure anyone else can, perfectly captured by their slogan “old crafts, new hands.”
First — and most importantly — AnOrdain added a larger case to the new Model 2 lineup, now offering it in a 36mm and a 39.5mm diameter. It also updated the color palette for the new release, offering the Model 2 in four new earthy and outdoorsy colors, drawing on the “field watch” theme of the model.
I went hands-on with their classic white enamel dial in the 36mm case size with blue hands and numerals. The story of AnOrdain begins with this dial, so let’s start there.
AnOrdain the enameler
The Model 2’s hand-enameled dials are made completely by AnOrdain, taking days to complete and with a high rate of tossing failures into the trash bin. Usually, you’ll only see this kind of enamel work in much more expensive watches. To me, the most exciting thing about AnOrdain is how it’s bringing this type of artisanship at a lower price point.
The medium Model 2 costs £1,700, and the large is £1,800. It’s tough to think of another watchmaker that’s hand-producing dials like this at around two thousand bucks.
Yea, but how do they do it?
Basically, these enamel dials are produced by applying a layer of enamel powder to the copper disk blank, which is then fired to temperatures of more than 800 degrees celsius. Up to eight layers are applied before the dial is finished. The entire process is completed by AnOrdain’s in-house team of enamelers, and they can only produce about 50 dials per month.
I wrote an article about the art of dial finishing for A Collected Man last year, and AnOrdain founder Lewis Heath emphasized the importance of investing internally in AnOrdain’s workshops, artisans, and machinery to execute its dials while keeping costs low.
This is also why, while the Model 2 isn’t limited, AnOrdain says it’ll only be able to produce about 200 a year.
This is “limited edition” done right — not for its own sake, but for the sake of craftsmanship.
AnOrdain the design studio
And it’s not just the dial itself. As a design studio, AnOrdain also designed its own font for the Model 2, printing the numerals and dial markers in-house.
They’re playful but classic, the perfect fit for a brand bringing new life to old-school techniques.
For the updated Model 2, AnOrdain also added a seconds hand, as well as a minute track to the outer edge of the dial.
The hands are also uniquely AnOrdain: They’re like syringe meets skeleton hands, with a bit of lume on the tip. The hands are made in Switzerland and then AnOrdain finishes them and heat treats them to create a blue steel. Again, an impressive technique to see in a watch at this price.
The Model 2’s case
I’ll be honest — having seen photos of the Model 2 case, I wasn’t quite sure how it’d wear. It’s got polished surfaces and bold, rounded lines with a thicker bezel — to me, it looked like it might be a bit bulky.
In person though, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. The watch is svelte and sporty, and the 36mm case fit my smaller wrists perfectly. That polished bezel, along with the pronounced crown guards, give it a unique look on the wrist, somewhere between a typical round watch and the chunky porthole shape of Patek’s Aquanaut.
As for the specs, they’re pretty much exactly what I ask for in a watch:
Medium: 36mm x 18mm lug width
Large: 39.5mm x 20mm lug width
Both are 11mm in thickness.
AnOrdain sent the watch on this blue suede strap that matches the dial perfectly. It reminds me of the suede straps that Nomos sends with some of their watches, which are some of my favorite OEM straps around. Yet another detail done right by AnOrdain.
The Model 2 is a true tool watch, with 50 meters of water resistance. This means a screw-in caseback engraved with AnOrdain’s slogan.
I left the movement for last, because the Model 2 is powered by the familiar Sellita SW210, a Swiss automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve. Nothing to complain about here. It’s a great, easily serviced caliber.
Concluding on AnOrdain
I’ve always loved AnOrdain. When I first reached out to the founder about a year ago to learn about their dial-making process, they were incredibly open and transparent. When you’re doing things the right way like AnOrdain, there’s no reason to hide.
I love the idea of putting a hand-made enamel dial in a sporty case. The Model 2 is an excellent study in contrast — a handmade dial, delicately made by artisans in a Scottish workshop, but put into a robust, waterproof case designed to be worn every day.
It feels unfair to lump AnOrdain in with other “micro-brands” that have proliferated over the past few years. They’re more like a small workshop and design studio that just happens to make watches. And these watches just happen to be some of my favorite, at any price point.
AnOrdain’s craft, design, and watchmaking feel completely rooted in the history of horology, but it doesn’t let this reverence for history get in the way of having a good time (and making a great watch).
Read the full hands-on with the AnOrdain Model 2
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THROUGH THE WIRE
The Perfect Two-Watch Collection?
One of our favorite things to talk about (as "collectors") is our hypothetical two-watch collection. If we had to, which 2 watches would we choose? This James Garner guy seems to have figured it out. To be honest, I wasn't super familiar with his acting work (I read his filmography and said "aahhh the old guy in The Notebook", which is surely painful to hear for those a generation older than me).
But I love his little “two-watch collection” being offered at Phillips’ New York auction next next week: A Cartier Baignoire and Heuer Carrera ref. 3647 (with his name at 6 o'clock). Steel and gold; sport and dress; chronograph and time-only; white and black dial. It's hard to think of two watches that complement each other any better. What's even better is how humble both choices are, especially for a world-famous actor.
Garner owned other watches (other Carreras, in fact!), but I love the simplicity of presenting just these two at auction, side-by-side, along with plenty of photos of Garner wearing both. Pure class.
Indie releases from MB&F, Rexhep Rexhepi, and Massena Labs
Geneva indie Rexhep Rexhepi debuted the Chronometre Contemporain II (ACM), featuring an all new movement with twin barrels, a dead beat seconds mechanism, and a case by John-Pierre Hagmann.
The new MB&F LM Sequential EVO (Hodinkee) is totally not my style, but a joy to look at: two independent chronographs (separate pushers and all), but a single movement and regulating organ, all in one crazy-looking machine.
The new Louis Erard x Massena Lab Regulator brings new life (through a new dial) to Erard’s 18th-century inspired Regulator (SJX).
🪙 Hands-on with a lovely vintage Movado coin watch (Strictly Vintage Watches). Andy Warhol owned a similar example. 👜 How Hermes grew past fashion watches to join the top Swiss watchmakers (Bloomberg).
Swatch ‘How Majestic’, in celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee