Most of the Kickstarter brands that we cover here on Monochrome tend to have an interesting unique story behind them, even though practically every single one of them is a micro-brand with very little traction in the multi-billion-dollar watch industry. CJR watches, which was founded in 2013, has now come out with the newly released “Commander Series”. A watch with a name that matches perfectly in my opinion, as when you look at it, it will command your attention.
The Commander series may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and is certainly not going to impress those who are into elegant watches. This is a series designed for those with outgoing character, certainly someone who is not afraid of wearing a bold statement watch on the wrist.
Now here comes the fun part; if you buy this watch on the early bird deal, how far will your $449 stretch? To answer that sharply, I would say “a lot”, mainly if you consider your average mainstream brand. Just like most of the start-up micro-brands emerging, they offer excellent bang for your buck if your looking to have a feature packed watch on a budget.
The commander series comes in four different color options, is built with a large 45mm case, and features a very unique skeleton display design. Our view here at Monochrome is that this particular skeleton design is a little bit too busy, and a tad bit tacky – but then again, it will certainly please some. If you can look past the overall assertive design of this watch, then what you’re actually getting is technically very good, especially if you’re into aviation.
A couple stand-out features of this timepiece are the hands, the second wheel, and the 24-hour indicator. The skeleton dial of the watch is also illuminated, which is a nice touch. The only downside I can see technically is the mineral window that the Commander series is equipped with – a sapphire crystal would have really completed the package in my opinion.
Hands and Dial
The hands on this piece are sharp and accurate with a very modern hollowed-out design, allowing for an easy reading experience. The tips of the hands are also painted a different color which gives off a good contrast. It has to be noted that, as many skeleton watches, the CJR “Commander Series” watch might be less easy to read than a standard timepiece, yet this is the price to pay to have a detailed view on the mechanics. Also, the dial, with the honeycomb texture, the several layers, the arms, the visible screws, the use of sapphire disc and the overall bold, skeletonized design has a certain Hautlence feel – which, as you might know, won’t disappoint us. The dial is complex, detailed and feels highly technical.
The second wheel is very unique. Instead of using a hand like on most watches, CJR decided to swap it out for a wheel mimicking the look of a turbine. For all the aviation lovers out there, this one is for you! Just like on our previously reviewed range of AVI-8 watches, every time you look down at your “Commander Series” watch, you will be reminded of the beauty and intricacy of flying.
A 24-hour indicator is always useful to have on the dial if you’re a frequent traveler or just like to keep military time. It does kind of clutter up the dial slightly, but as an aviation watch, which is a form of tool watch; it comes in handy.
Features of the CJR “Commander Series” watch
The CJR “Commander Series” watch is equipped, as many other watches from Kickstarter campaigns, with a Miyota movement. Here, we have the 82S7 in a skeleton version, meaning an automatic calibre, with 21 jewels and 40-hour power reserve. This movement is known for its good reliability and very decent accuracy.
If you’re looking to pick up a “Commander Series” watch, you should also be aware of a couple extra perks that CJR is offering. An interesting fact that is mentioned on the Kickstarter campaign is that the Commander is said to be self-serviceable. This was due to feedback from previous buyers of CJR watches, and they have now added a screw-back design that allows wearers to access the watch’s movement (note: we don’t encourage you to do so if you don’t have the required skills). The 22mm straps are also detachable and decent quality thick leather, ensuring a snug and lasting fit.
If you feel this watch is something your style and you want to help fund the project, you can head over to CJR’s Kickstarter page here.
This article is written by Matthew Catellier, who covers “Value Propositions” for Monochrome, and also publishes affordable timepieces on his own website Watch Review Blog.