Would it be crazy to say that we all like everyday watches? What about robust everyday watches? Perhaps when you think of a robust everyday watch you think Sinn 556, or if you have a bigger budget than me, Rolex Explorer 1. What these two watches have in common—except how much they retail for—is that they are versatile in design and specifications. They are well made, they have certain Goldie Locks dimensions for many of us, and they look good whether walking our dogs in the midst of a Canadian blizzard or during the opening ceremony of a prestigious watch boutique in Paris.
The Sinn 556 I mentioned above retails for roughly $1,300 and the Rolex Explorer 1 for $7,700. The former is definitely friendlier for many budgets while the latter isn’t. For me, spending around $1,500 or less for an everyday watch is reasonable insofar it comes with the right visual appeal and specifications. So today I would like to suggest a new candidate for your go-anywhere-do-anything horological marvel: the Wolf Creek Watch Co. North Star. This bad boy has the looks (at least to me) and the just the right specifications to become my perfect daily.
The North Star is the second model from the Minnesota-based independent brand created by Michael Johansen in 2020. Michael makes robust watches that can match his active lifestyle, living–as he does–within a community that is nature-oriented. Being a small-wristed guy like me (6.25”/16cm,), Michael endowed the North Star with the right dimensions for people like us: a case diameter of 38mm, a lug-to-lug of 43mm, a total case thickness of 12mm, and a lug with of 20mm. Despite its reasonable dimensions, the North Star comes with 200 meters of water resistance thanks to a screw-down crown and case-back and added resistances against shock and magnetism (more on that later).
To be make the North Star a reliable everyday timepiece, Michael opted for a Top Grade Sellita SW300-1 caliber which beats at 28,800 BPH (4Hz) and comes with 56 hours of power reserve. Being a Top Grade movement, the Sellita runs very well. The unit I have been wearing for the past month runs at – 1 second/day everyday, whether it is on my wrist or sitting inside my shabby-looking watch box for three days. Being so accurate is a big plus for me and for this type of watch. Having a Sellita movement also means it can be serviced anywhere in the world by any decent watchmaker.
Adding to its robustness, the North Star comes with a flat piece of sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating and with a bracelet made of solid links and end-links, as well as a ladder-style construction which makes it comfortable to wear in any situation. Think aquatic, hot and humid climates, and dusty and rough terrains. And the added bonus is the hidden divers’ extension that can be easily folded in or out whenever the need arises–á la Sinn 556. It’s a detail which I find useful; however, I know that many criticize Sinn for adding a divers’ extension to what seems to be an everyday watch.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
43mm Lug to Lug
20mm Lug Width
Screwed Crown & Case Back
200m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Flat Sapphire|
& 3-6-9-12 Arabics
56-Hour Power Reserve
|Strap||Stainless Steel Bracelet|
/w Diver’s Extension
Wold Creek Watch Co. North Star
The North Star has a unique case shape that can be something of an acquired taste. Generally, it is a tonneau case with long and rounded sides, a bulbous profile, and geometrical cut-outs for the lugs. From the side, it looks as if a UFO has landed on my wrist, and although I’m more of a boring and conservative type of guy than a daring and avant-garde one, I must admit I’m smitten with the case design. I absolutely love its long and rounded profile when looking at the watch from an angle, and its massive geometrical shape when looking at it straight down. It really is something that must be experienced in the metal to fully understand how neat it is.
To make the tonneau case more interesting to look at, Michael gave it a polished chamfer that runs from the very edge of each lug to the other side of the watch, creating a long and elegant surface that reflects light. The rest of the case comes with fine brushing which is made in a way that accentuates the angular aspects of the case. The same brushing is applied on the bracelet and works well with the rounded links and double-pusher déployant clasp. All in all, the North Star is a complete package that I—personally—find elegant and versatile.
Earlier I mentioned the fact that the watch’s reasonable proportions does not preclude it from coming with additional resistance to magnetism and shock. Indeed, the North Star has added shock protection coming from both the built-in supported balance wheel of the Sellita SW300-1 caliber but also from the fact that a synthetic rubber gasket was placed between the case and movement to absorb shocks. Moreover, the movement is sandwiched inside a soft iron case which protects it from the strongest daily sources of magnetism.
Moreover, I’ve become smitten with the dial design. It is extremely legible. Like, very, very legible. The black lacquered dial contrasts superbly with the white printed hour markers and minute hashmarks, and the large and long sword-shaped hour and minute hands make reading the time easy. What’s more is that the seconds hand is shaped like a sword and is fully-lumed. On this version, Wolf Creek opted for BGW9 which looks white during the day and glows ice blue during the night–though the lume application could have been better to be honest. Lastly, the printing of the stylized wolf logo and of the words “North Star” and “Automatic” is crisp.
As with everything else in life, the North Star isn’t perfect. Because imagine how boring Michael’s life would be if he had managed to make the perfect watch on his second try! I mean, even Rolex can’t make the perfect Submariner after seven decades. And you know what? What is and isn’t perfect is subjective. But regardless, here are two quibbles I have with the North Star. First, it has to do with the end links. However much I love their shape—which is reminiscent of a Nordic hammer—they elongate the lug-to-lug by a couple of millimeters. More than that, they don’t work quite well with the wideness of the tonneau case. So adding female end-links would make for a subtle yet important change.
My second quibble also has to do with the end links. As they do not perfectly match the case and lugs design. While the hammer-shaped part of the end links perfectly match the top part of the lugs, the sides of the end-links protrude out from the case. This is nothing dramatically bad in itself; however it is something that could be easily addressed by redesigning the end links. I also believe that doing this would ever so slightly reduce the visual impact the female end-links have in contrast with the tonneau case. Hope that makes sense.
Well, despite having two quibbles in my book, the North Star is one of the most interesting watches I’ve seen in the past three years. Not only does it tick many of the boxes to be my perfect everyday watch—the right proportions, design, and specifications—it also offers a lot of bangs for the bucks. So, how much does it cost? Well, it retails for $1,275 which includes free shipping to the continental USA, a handmade leather pouch by Leather Works (also based in Minnesota), as well as an extra nylon strap. (I learned two days ago that we are not allowed to call it a NATO strap. Did you know?)
Furthermore, the North Star comes in two colors: dark black with white hands and markers or dark blue with cream colored hands and markers. You can find out more about Wolf Creek and the North Star by checking out the brand’s website here.
Vincent Deschamps is a museum professional, originally from France, with more than 10 years experience as a researcher, producing visitor experiences for national and international organizations. He is also the founder of mainspring.watch. You can follow Vincent on Instagram.
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3 thoughts on “Off the Cuff: Wolf Creek Watch Co. North Star”
Simplistic and adventurous!
Neat dial format but the bulbous case is hard to take in.
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This design is really cool. Love to see how they progress with it