Alexander James Watches A4 Prelude 37 GMT

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Ryeguy
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Alexander James Watches A4 Prelude 37 GMT

Post by Ryeguy » Thu Oct 26, 2023 7:18 am

Let me preface this review by saying I think of this watch as “cheap thrills”. The total cost of the watch and aftermarket leather strap is less than the cost to service an 8L movement at a Seiko service center.

I say this not to disparage the watch, but rather to express how impressive this watch is relative to the cost.
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I got turned on to the Alexander James watch brand when Henry posted about the Raven Watches custom department watches. I thought the GMT model they offered looked really interesting, but I didn’t really like the dial. I noticed the specs on the Raven Watch advertised an Alexander James case, so I did a little digging to learn more.
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I’d also been thinking about those “Stella dial” Oyster Perpetual’s since Rolex released them back in 2020. I liked the idea of a bright, fun colored, Oyster style watch, but wanted something more affordable and attainable given knowing how my attention span is that of a fly.
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It turns out that AJ is out of Chicago and has been in the Seiko mod scene for a few years. He started by modding watches, then got into the parts business, and now is assembling and selling watches under his own brand.

When I saw this watch, I was immediately struck by how well the details worked together. First, I am a fan of a GMT complication. I appreciate a watch which incorporates this complication in an intuitive, yet non-intrusive, way. I also appreciate how the hands are all the correct length to just touch the indices. The dial is uncluttered with extra nonsense text. The indices are applied, and their dark outline works very well with the light colored dial (where a polished indices would be lost). The attention to design detail reminds me of Halios, and I mean that as a compliment.
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The watch case is 37.4mm, so on the smaller side, but still reasonable for this style of watch. The movement is a Seiko NH34 that AJ has regulated to within -10/+20 SPD. Not COSC, but fine for daily wear.

All the rest of the spec’s are solid:
- 200m water resistance
- domed sapphire crystal
- BGW9 lume on the hands and dial
- screw down crown and case back
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I think it is fair to say I am enjoying this one.

Nits to pick:

- the bracelet is OK (solid end links and a partially milled clasp, screwed links) but it is rather thin and light weight. I’m not complaining given the cost, but you won’t mistake this bracelet for something off a $5K watch.

- the case back is completely blank. I think it would be nice to have an engraved logo and maybe some specs back there. Again, not a big deal and I prefer nothing over some sharp edged, cheap feeling, stamping as I have seen on other watches.

The watch cost me $300. The strap was under $30.

AJ’s website www.alexjameswatches.com
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Wario406
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Re: Alexander James Watches A4 Prelude 37 GMT

Post by Wario406 » Thu Oct 26, 2023 8:02 am

Nice write up Chris - looks like a lot of watch for small$$. The white one resembles a slightly smaller EXPII Polar.
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justsellbrgs
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Re: Alexander James Watches A4 Prelude 37 GMT

Post by justsellbrgs » Thu Oct 26, 2023 8:05 am

Nice write up --- that's a solid watch at that price point.
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Ryeguy
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Re: Alexander James Watches A4 Prelude 37 GMT

Post by Ryeguy » Thu Oct 26, 2023 11:57 am

Wario406 wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2023 8:02 am
Nice write up Chris - looks like a lot of watch for small$$. The white one resembles a slightly smaller EXPII Polar.
Thanks!

Yes, the white one has EXPII vibes, but (IMO) different enough to not really be a "homage" watch.

Visually, I think the closest similar looking watch would be the Halios Seaforth GMT, but on the Halios, the GMT hand only comes to the inside tip of the hour markers. Of course Halios also used all baton type markers and AJ used a mix of batons and Arabic numerals.

That said, I think Jason at Halios really nailed the idea of using black outline hands and indices on lighter colored dials. Maybe other brands had that design idea prior to Jason, but his watches were the first I remember in seeing this.

I appreciate how AJ used a longer GMT hand on this "Prelude" design so it comes all the way to the minute tracks where the GMT scale is printed on the dial.

Another detail I failed to mention in my review is the area between the lugs is actually polished. I've had watches in the past where this area was left roughly finished and wearing the watch on a strap exposed this rough area. Not so with this case. It looks good on a strap.

As I continue to wear the watch, I guess the only other suggestions I would put in AJ's comments box would be to consider trying a box sapphire crystal (although probably less practical for every day wear, I still think they look cool) and using color matched date wheels (again, another detail Jason at Halios gets right).
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Ryeguy
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Re: Alexander James Watches A4 Prelude 37 GMT

Post by Ryeguy » Thu Oct 26, 2023 12:57 pm

justsellbrgs wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2023 8:05 am
Nice write up --- that's a solid watch at that price point.
Thanks, John.

One other thing about the brand I appreciate is AJ isn't some "designer" who outsources the manufacturing and assembly to Fullswing or similar.

He sources all the parts, regulates the movement, and assembles everything himself in his Chicago home. He even sends you a little card with the weather the day of the assembly (sunny in Chicago that day) and what music he was playing (The Blueprint 3 by Jay Z, but I won't hold that against him - nobody is perfect).

It probably isn't the recipe for rapid growth, but it reminds me of the early days of Bill Yao and MKii and the some of the other early micro's. It is nice to see there are still a couple folks out there kicking the trend and doing things "old school".

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DocHollidayDDS
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Re: Alexander James Watches A4 Prelude 37 GMT

Post by DocHollidayDDS » Tue Nov 21, 2023 5:11 pm

Ryeguy wrote:
Thu Oct 26, 2023 11:57 am

That said, I think Jason at Halios really nailed the idea of using black outline hands and indices on lighter colored dials. Maybe other brands had that design idea prior to Jason, but his watches were the first I remember in seeing this.
Pretty sure I noticed Fred Amos using this style of hands and indices on his white and light-colored Binnacle Diver and Anchor before I saw it being used by Halios.

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