As you will probably know already, from time to time, we, posh watch-lovers and journalists, like to look at the other side of the watchmaking spectrum. Of course, high-end, hand-decorated watches will remain our most important focus, but we shouldn’t forget that accessibility is key for many collectors. This is why, when there’s an affordable project that we love, we’re happy to share it with you… and this Paulin Commuter Automatic, a watch from Glasgow, Scotland, with an original and inspired design (and of course mechanical movement), is today under our scope.
Paulin Watches has a rather unique story behind its watches, and indeed there are no Swiss people involved, because Paulin is a Scottish watch company, and the brainchild of 3 sisters. That already makes the brand quite interesting, you’ll admit. After 2 years of development, they launched their first collection in 2014. Until now, all the watches had been powered by quartz movements. In 2017, the sisters have upped the game by presenting an automatic version of their main watch, the Commuter.
What is the Paulin Watches Commuter Automatic? Basically, it’s a no-nonsense time-only piece, with a clean, “industrial designer-like” approach, featuring a simple but reliable automatic movement and priced to a very competitive level. Of course, this a recipe that many Kickstarter-powered brands have applied recently, however, the design, shape and style of the Commuter is (at least to us here, at Monochrome) quite welcome. Restrained, clean, featuring small details, well-conceived… There’s quite a lot to like in fact, especially knowing the below-$500 price tag.
In terms of design, the Paulin Commuter Automatic uses the same codes as previous collections, meaning a mix of clean, almost-industrial elements, a certain Bauhaus appeal and a few funky, off-the-books details. Overall, this creates a design that is pleasantly understated at first but more complex when studied in detail.
The case, with its 37mm diameter and 10mm height, feels well-proportioned for a casual, slightly retro piece, and it’s suitable for both genders too. The central part is shaped like a drum-barrel, with a thin convex bezel on top. A pair of thin and straight lugs are added on each side of the case. One pleasant feature is the contrasting bezel and case back, which are coated in black PVD, giving a slightly sporty look to the Paulin Commuter Automatic. The sides of the case are non-coated steel and vertically brushed. Overall, the finishing of the case feels qualitative, considering the price of the watch.
Moving to the dial, we have a similar approach: sleek at first, yet pleasantly detailed and slightly original. The dial has a dual style: straight brushed on the outer part, concentric pattern (classical but usually seen on smaller surfaces, such as sub-counters) on the inside. The hands are thin, openworked batons, painted in black to merge with the rest of the watch. Markers and inscriptions are extremely thin and elongated, quite “dans l’air du temps” and recalling trends seen recently in graphic design.
Originality comes from two things. First the numerals, based on a bespoke designed typeface named Geo. Stylized, quite fun, with a retro / art-deco feel, it adds to the personality of this Paulin Commuter Automatic. The second feature to add some life to this watch is the yellow sweep second hand.
On the wrist, the Commuter Automatic wears pretty well, thanks to its reasonable diameter, its rather slim profile, the curved lugs and a light overall weight. The overall look is quite discreet for people around you, while the various details are pleasant when closely looked. The watch comes here on a black bridle leather strap, and several options (with different costs) are possible: black, blue, olive or tan colour, shell cordovan leather, stingray leather or suede leather. The straps are just like the rest of the watch; qualitative.
Under the hood of the Paulin Commuter Automatic is a well-known movement, the Japanese Miyota self-winding calibre 9015. This movement, found in most of the entry-level automatic watches, has nothing to prove anymore. Reliable, precise enough, it is a workhorse that does the job. It is visible through a sapphire caseback and is decorated with stripping on the bridges.
Overall, the Paulin Watches Commuter Automatic was a pleasant surprise, with an interesting design approach. Quality and pleasure are completely in line with the $495 / €475 / £395 asked for this watch – $520 on cordovan strap, $555 on stingray leather strap and $495 on suede strap. Furthermore, it has some originality, not only in its design but in the story behind the product, as it is designed and assembled in Glasgow. You can even visit Paulin’s workshop, a creative space that acts as an office, shop, studio and leather workshop. Open seven days a week, the space offers a bespoke service for leather straps, instantly providing you with a personal touch for your watch. More details on paulinwatches.com.