The first thing I thought of when I saw the AndoAndoAndo A-1 Automatic Watch was Ripley’s Seiko 7A28-7000 in James Cameron’s Aliens. Giorgetto Giugiaro, who designed that piece for Seiko, was also responsible for the 7A28-6000–affectionately known as the “Bishop,” after the android who wore it in the same film. These designs, which seemed futuristic in the 1980s, oddly, appear equally futuristic today, as does the A-1.
Of course, the A-1 isn’t a chronograph. So it doesn’t have the pushers and sub-dials of the 7A28-7000. As such, the impression is one of minimalism, rather that one of gadgetry. The streamlined, asymmetrical silhouette was developed by the Japanese-Finnish designer, and brand founder, Yu Andoh. He attributes the name to the three Andohs in his life: his wife, his son, and himself. As for the design, Giugiaro actually had very little to do with it. For inspiration, Andoh looked to Étienne-Louis Boullée’s Cénotaphe à Newton (1784). Boullée believed in making architecture expressive of its purpose. Andoh brings that same philosophy to watch-making.
There are four colourways–if you consider variations of black and white to be colours–in two different finishes, of the A-1. Here we have the black-on-black DLC prototype, side-by-side with the white on white, stainless steel.
Andoh, who is an environmental designer by training, has worked a number of jobs in the past–most of which have been freelance design, content creation, and writing gigs. The A-1 is his first watch. Japanese by heritage, and Finnish by his chosen homeland, Andoh has brought together the Nordic sense of functionality and paired it with the clean, uncluttered balance of Japanese design.
In some respect, the A-1 is a small watch. Officially–and according to the literature in its packaging–it measures just 35.5mm wide and 37mm long, but actually measures in at 37mm by 42mm lug to lug. The watch is only 11m, as well. However, on wrist it feels much taller, which I attribute to the slab-sided, shroud-like design. Andoh warns off those who have thick wrists, but the boxy end of the watch has a much bigger presence than its dimensions would suggest. So if you like the design, I wouldn’t let that throw you off.
The case, which is immediately striking, is not, however, the only element worth mentioning. The crown placement, by virtue of the case shape, is also of interest. Tucked away, as though protected by crown guards, it has the practical benefit of remaining well clear of your hand as you lift your wrist. It is push-pull, signed, with a coin-edge finish.
The dial, which appears simple at first glance, is actually a step configuration with a recessed inner index and sandwich-style markers on the outer index. It is also subtly textured. The hands are polished chrome batons, inset with a healthy dose of C1 Super-LumiNova, as are the hour markers.
The movement at the heart of the A-1 is the automatic Seiko NH36 with a day/date complication at three. You can view the movement through the screwed down, mineral glass back. The crystal is flat sapphire, and the watch is rated at 5ATM. It comes standard on a black Genuine Leather strap with quick release. Each model is limited to 100 pieces.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
Brushed or DLC
42mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
Screw Down Caseback
/w Mineral Glass Portal
50m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Flat Sapphire Crystal|
41-Hour Power Reserve
AndoAndoAndo A-1 Auto
The A-1 comes in a package that reminds me of Ikea furniture–slab style cardboard, with some assembly required. This is not a bad thing, and I assume this is where Andoh’s environmental design background comes into play. There isn’t a bit of wasted space or material. The box is printed with the end user warranty, a diagram of the timepiece’s specifications, and instructions of use. There is even a wonderful display window carved out of both sides where the purchaser can observe the dial and the watch movement. There ought to be an award for this economy.
But even more interesting than its well-designed packaging, is what Andoh has decided to offer the watch modding community as an aside. While the A-1 is a Limited Edition, Andoh has made the watch case available for purchase separately. As the watch was designed around the popular NH36, off the shelf dials (28.5mm), hands, and other elements are readily available and compatible. If you are intrepid enough, you could make your own version of the A-1.
As ergonomic as the crown placement is, it is also finnicky to access for time and date setting. I’m not 100% sold on the strap choice, either. It’s not that it’s Genuine Leather, so much. I just have a feeling that the watch would look better on a bracelet.
The A-1 has a very clean, industrial appearance. It would not look out of place in a sci-fi film. But as sleek and minimal as it appears at first blush, the A-1 reveals itself slowly. The textured sandwich-style, step dial is well balanced (just look at the tolerance on the passage of its hour hand through the recessed index). The screwed down caseback, rather than a separate piece, actually forms the bottom of the watch and offers an unobstructed view of its workhorse movement. Each piece is individually numbered and the lume is excellent. If you’re looking for something outside the box, this might be for you.
The AndoAndoAndo A-1 retails for $295USD. For more information, please visit the brand website.
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