Namica is a new watch brand from Japan, and they are hoping to make a splash with their first release: The Shirahama Classic Diver. Shirahama refers to the local white sand beach in Izu, where the watches were conceived and designed. And if you are anything like me, one look at this colourful dial has you imaging warm summer days, sunshine, and lazy afternoons at the water’s edge.
The dial of the Shirahama exudes all kinds of classic dive watch vibes. Its circular applied indices, interspersed with rectangular blocks at 3, 6, and 9–along with the telltale inverted triangle at 12–harken back to the great Seikos of yore. Its thick pencil-style handset, and its inverted lollipop seconds are also strong choices, befitting a utilitarian diver. But the colourway options speak a much more contemporary language. The blue dial variation (featured here) offers a particularly strong shock of colour infusion with the orange minute hand–a motif repeated in the cardinal chapter ring indicators.
What appears at first glance as a sterile dial, also offers surprises with a sleek logo relief beneath the 12, offset on the opposite end of the dial with the word “Automatic.” The two-tone bezel with sapphire insert is also a decidedly modern addition.
However, it is the case construction which is the highlight here. Measuring 40mm in diameter and a comfortable 47mm lug to lug, the bead-blasted design is a monochrome sculpture of angles and planes. The screwed-down crown, located at 4, is carefully integrated like a futuristic incarnation of the SKX. Its size and knurling make it quite tactile and easy to manipulate. This same knurling is repeated in an interspersed pattern on the edge of the thick 120-click bezel. The caseback, also screwed-down–securing 200m of water resistance–is tastefully etched in a wave pattern with a central banner which includes the brand logo and the watch’s namesake in kanji.
The solid link, beveled, stainless steel bracelet is bead-blasted in the same manner as the case, and coupled with a sturdy, milled clasp. It has a push button release and three levels of micro-adjust.
Of particular note is the generous application of lume here. The hands, indices, and even the bezel beam a delightful, long-lasting BGW9 Super-LumiNova blue. And the double-domed sapphire crystal–coated with AR on the underside–is the perfect window through which to watch the lightshow.
At the heart of the Shirahama is the popular Seiko NH38. The workhorse movement beats out a solid 3Hz sweep, and this “no date” version of the NH35 is also a good choice for the minimalistic dial.
The Shirahama is available in four different colourways as seen below.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel (Bead-blasted)|
47mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
120-Click Uni-directional Bezel
Screwed Down Case Back & Crown
200m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Double-domed Sapphire /w AR Undercoat|
|Movement||Seiko NH38 (No date)|
41-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Bead-blasted Stainless Steel|
/w Milled Clasp
A special edition of the Shirahama–the Neo Tokyo–will also be released. This version will see the case and bracelet coated in carbon black DLC. Aside from the colour change, DLC offers added scratch resistance. The watch will also feature an ultra-violet fume dial and neon lume accents.
Getting your hands on a prototype–when you are dealing with the right brand–is an opportunity for dialogue. While I did not find the Namica lacking in any way, it was clear to me that the brand founders were eagerly seeking feedback and open to change. As such, some of the improvements planned for the Shirahama include sharper knurling on the bezel, improved finishing on the end links, and a repositioned, smaller logo on the clasp. Still open for discussion is the “Automatic” line of text on the dial. The question is whether to make it bolder or to do away with it altogether. Perhaps, you could join the discussion and leave your opinion in the comments section below!
The Namica Shirahama strikes me as the Seiko SKX you always wanted but never got from Seiko. In overall shape, it is very reminiscent of this dive world legend. However, it has all the updates for which patrons were clamouring. The angular, futuristic cut with its immaculate bead-blasting announces its toolwatch chops. The smaller 40mm package is also a better fit for most wrists. The proliferation of sapphire–in both the bezel insert and the double-domed crystal–is a huge step up in quality. And the bracelet, with its solid beveled links, milled clasp, and distinct lack of jangle, isn’t even in the same league. With the added benefit of its clean, contemporary colourways, the watch also has a hint of pizzazz and wrist presence. But perhaps, more importantly, the Namica marks a return to the affordable utilitarian diver–one without the sacrifice of a screwed-down crown or water resistance.
Super Early Bird pricing on Kickstarter starts at only $299USD, with later incremental price hikes to $325USD and $349USD during the campaign. The Shirahama is set for a January 2022 launch. For more information, please visit the brand website.
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