Introducing The Pinion Atom 39, An Accessible British Tool-Watch (Hands-On)

Pinion presents the Atom 39, featuring a refreshed design and configuration for 2019, resulting from an online survey.
calendar | ic_dehaze_black_24px By Brice Goulard | ic_query_builder_black_24px 6 minute read
Pinion Atom 39 British tool watch

The watch industry is in a shift. E-commerce is on everyone’s lips, new ways to deal with end-customers are the main topic for brands and, most importantly in the present context, there are hundreds of microbrands rising – some more outstanding than others. Among those young brands, one that stands out from the crowd and that already successfully launched several pieces is Pinion. Classic execution, offering robust tool watches, the British brand is now launching a new watch, the Pinion Atom 39 – an accessible watch that has been created after an interesting collectors’ survey.

Background – Pinion

What is Pinion? Well before we move to the brand itself, a quick reminder about the name. A pinion is a technical term (not only used in watchmaking but in everything mechanical) to define “a gear with a small number of teeth designed to mesh with a larger wheel or rack” – no need to explain the link with the watch industry or to give you more details about how the logo of Pinion watches was created…

Pinion was formed in 2013 by professional designer Piers Berry. Formally trained in graphic design in the early 1990s and specialising in typography, Piers started to work in early web and digital media agencies in London. After creating his own agency, he would then be responsible for the design and production of digital experiences for over forty feature films. It was during that time that Piers developed his love for mechanical watches – which were in many ways a world apart from his daily routine of dealing with pixels and code.

In 2013, he launched Pinion and designed his first collection named Axis, a trio of automatic wristwatches that referenced instruments from the World War II era and retailed exclusively online via the Pinion website. Following this first collection, Piers went on to design two new watches in 2014; the Pure and the R-1969, both of which utilised hand-wound mechanical movements. In 2016, Pinion revisited its original Axis line with a redesigned and re-engineered Axis II.

The first Atom watch, with a Japanese Miyota 9015 automatic movement and 41mm case.

In 2017, the brand went on with a new collection, this time in a more affordable price range with a watch named Atom. This tool-watch, powered by a Japanese automatic movement and using different manufacturing techniques was able to retail for under GBP 800. The initial run of the Atom watches sold out within months. A second watch, in titanium and with a dual time movement (the Pinion TT) was launched simultaneously.

In 2019 Pinion will be launching new watches with a follow-up to the Atom – the existing  Atom 39 – and a new chronograph.

The Atom 39, the result of an online survey

Creating a new product and launching it on the market is always an adventure. You can’t be sure that you’ll please your audience… unless you try to find out what your audience wants. This is exactly what Pinion has done for its new watch, by surveying a group of collectors and potential clients on its website.

Pinion published an online survey in September 2018, to gather feedback with the aim to see what people would want in a new Atom watch. The outcome of this was then used to influence the design and specifications of the new watch – full results of the survey here.

Pinion Atom 39 British tool watch
The survey conducted by Pinion showed that people wanted to see the addition of a brighter dial, as well as a smaller case, a date and a Swiss movement… Pinion Watch has listened to them!

Pinion brings democracy to the watch industry!

Basically, the majority (64%) of the respondents requested a case size of 41mm and under, with the majority of those wanting a smaller 39mm case. Then, regarding the colour options, 53% wanted to have a lighter dial, with 29% wanting a white/cream dial and 24% wanting a grey/anthracite dial. Finally, on the subject of the date/no-date display, the majority of the respondents requested the presence of this complication – 55% of people wanted to retain a date display – with 30% of them wanting to see it positioned at 3 o’clock.

Finally, while the first Pinion Atom was powered by an affordable Japanese movement, with a retail price of GBP 790, 56% of people wanted to see the next model with a Swiss movement, despite knowing this would increase the price of the watch. And guess what… The new Pinion watch is 39mm, it can be ordered with a white dial, it features a date window and it has a Swiss movement beating inside its case.

Pinion Atom 39 British tool watch
After a series of 41mm watches, the brand was requested to create a 39mm watch – and it did.

Certainly, these choices won’t please the entire audience, however, it shows how much the brand cares about its potential clients’ wishes – meet the watch democracy!

The Atom 39, a no-nonsense tool watch

Let’s now look at the new Pinion Atom 39. When it comes to the style and the design, the brand sticks to the recipe that was found in previous creations. a modern, no-nonsense approach to watchmaking with vintage inspiration resulting in cool, military-oriented timepieces, robust and made to be worn.

Pinion Atom 39 British tool watch

This new Pinion Atom 39 has most attributes of a military watch, with its utilitarian case in matte bead-blasted stainless steel and a large crown at 3 o’clock to quickly adjust the time. The design of the case itself has evolved slightly compared to the first 41mm Atom. While the bezel appears slightly slimmer – a good point as this enhances the legibility of the dial as well as gives it more presence on the wrist – the lugs feels thicker and more robust than the previous model. The lug-to-lug length is 48mm, meaning that if this watch sounds a bit on the small side on paper, it actually wears on the larger side.

The second evolution concerns the dial. Certainly, the roots of the company are not far away but there is an evolution compared to the previous Atom. This new version feels even more utilitarian, more field-oriented with its clean matte dial without texture. Same goes for the font of the Arabic numerals. It is still the same signature design, easily recognizable, but then again the style has been cleaned and even more military-inspired. Overall, the Pinion Atom 39 is an ultra-clean, hyper-legible watch.

Pinion Atom 39 British tool watch

Two options are offered: a classic black dial with beige-coloured numerals and track, or a more casual white dial with black printed numerals – the second has a sort of railroad-watch inspiration that is pleasant. On both watches, the hands are metallic and filled with Super-LumiNova. A series of dots next to the Arabic numerals enhance night-time legibility.

Pinion Atom 39 British tool watch

As explained, this new Pinion Atom 39 goes back to the usual Swiss-made movements found in previous watches made by Pinion – with the exception of the Atom 41. Inside the case is an ETA 2824-2 “elaboré”, a tried-and-tested automatic movement that will perfectly do the job in this military context. This also means that the Atom 39 features a date window. Like it or not, but votes gave a preference to its presence.

Pinion Atom 39 British tool watch

Price and availability

The new Pinion Atom 39, a watch finished, assembled and tested in England (with Swiss and German components), will be manufactured in small batches of fiſty watches at a time, with the first batch complete in February 2019. The watches of the first batch can be reserved here, on Pinion’s website, at an introductory price of GBP 1,050 (incl. VAT) or GBP 875 (excl. VAT) for early customers. The full retail price will later be GBP 1,150.

More details at pinionwatches.com.

5 responses

  1. English tool watch, not British. You know, in the same way that AnOrdain are a Scottish brand…except that they’re apparently ‘British’, presumably because the owner’s English – bad example. So, hats off to Pinion for being honest and patriotic at the bottom of their dials…well, y’know, apart from most of it not being made there.

    It’s at times like this I’m reminded of Roger Smith’s open letter on the current state of British watchmaking:
    https://www.hodinkee.com/articles/an-open-letter-from-roger-smith

  2. I think it is very well. If more brand did these survey, they probably find this IMHO imposed trend of large sizes is not what the majority of people wants. there are three kind of people: small wrists, large wrists and small wrist with the bad taste to like a television strapped around their wrist. At least, Brands should do a market survey or do as some other brands do: offer two sizes of their models. I look at a Martenero watch I liked but when I read it was 42mm, I just said…no thank you and stop reading: not interested. I won’t use a big watch just because of a fashion trend. 40mm is my limit. Of course, there are exceptions but you need to try before buying (I have a Orient Star World Time about 41.5mm but it is so well done it wears as a 40mm. But as I said, it is an exception.

    Thank you for a great article. I like microbrands and it is nice to find news and updates on them.

  3. Search ‘An Open Letter From Roger Smith on the Current State of British Watchmaking’.

  4. Por favor, vaya encuesta a supuestos coleccionista, se propone Eta o Miyota,ojo Eta incrementa el precio.
    Un poco de onestidad a la hora de producir un reloj con unas características básicas,que ocurre no hay más calibres en el mercado que den personalidad a este reloj.
    Yo soy partidario de Eta 2892 y me quedo corto. Que un reloj es algo mas. Por el precio si lo vale la gente lo pagará, más que lo quitan de las manos.

  5. *My second, tautological comment was only posted because my first didn’t show. Sorry bout that.

Leave a Reply