Kickstarter remains flooded with watch projects that make us all cringe, but at the end of last week I stumbled across something interesting; it seems someone—a startup team named Nardi Watches—decided to build a Swiss-powered dive watch from scrap Brit Navy steel, with cases milled in the UK, all for under $600 USD. The best part? It’s actually a good looking watch. Clearly taking a page from the book of brands like REC Watches and Tockr—both brands who have fashioned dials from noteworthy scrap metal—Nardi takes things a step further, getting their hands on a batch of HY-80 marine steel from the decommissioned HMS Cornwall that will be melted down and forged into blocks destined for 5-axis CNC machines in the UK. This steel will be used to produce its case, caseback and crown.
At time of publishing, their Kickstarter campaign is only a couple grand shy of its funding goal, with only 8 days left in the campaign. Though I’ve been ignoring Kickstarter recently (due to overexposure/saturation and a lack of inspiring launches), this is one campaign I’m genuinely interested in seeing come to fruition.
For a little science nerding, HY-80 steel is stronger than standard 316L steel, with a tensile strength of 80 Kilopounds/square inch (double that of 316L), and unlike 316L steel it can be hardened (though there’s no mention of that being the plan for the HMS-C20, nor would it be necessary). This overall toughness is why the metal has often been used in the building of naval vessels and submarines, among other things.
The team has confirmed that some ancillary bits (gaskets, crystal, ceramic bezel insert, etc etc) will come in from outside sources, which one would assume at this price point. Its caliber will be a Sellita SW200-1, and looking at the specs it looks like the piece ticks all the boxes for ISO 6425 dive watch certification. Its crystal is a double-domed sapphire with inner AR coating. Both its caseback and crown are screw-down (for good reason), and its hands, indices, and bezel pip are filled with BWG9 (blue) Superluminova. As an additional level of geekery (and over-engineering, which I always support), Nardi is also making their own movement holders out of a non-magnetic steel, rather than using a plastic like countless other brand do.
Dimensionally the watch also has a fair bit of appeal. Its bezel is reminiscent of the tall Aquadive bezels, albeit with a more fine 280-count coin-edge. It’s 42mm across, 13.5mm thick, 50mm from lug to lug, and has a lug width of 22mm. This isn’t a compact diver, but on paper it seems to be just large enough for those with bigger wrists to enjoy, yet compact enough that those of us with smaller wrists could pull it off.
On account of finding them by fluke, I’ve not had the opportunity to see the piece first-hand yet, and yes this is a Kickstarter project from an unknown and untested team (in the sense that this is their first campaign), so as always there are risks with backing any project, but I have to say this one seems like it might be worth the gamble. The design is on point, it’s interesting and different—reads: not an off-the-shelf parts based cash grab, and even if there are some production delays, the anticipated 7-week turnaround really doesn’t sound half bad.
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