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My watch collection #8 Vertigo Pilot One

Vertigo Pilot One on blue nato strap.

At the time of writing, the Vertigo Pilot One is the earliest watch still remaining in my collection. I’ve talked about watch collecting before and for me it’s a journey of trial and error, dead ends and exploration. No GPS, just pure fun.

That means a lot of watch flipping. But the Pilot One still remains to be flipped. It is indeed for sale if you’re willing to pay the price. I’ve intentionally overpriced it a bit simply because i don’t really want to let it go, but at the same time it’s given me a good run for the last five years and I could do with downsizing my collection a bit.

The Vertigo Pilot One is gorgeous

I’ve got a massive soft spot for mid-century utilitarian chronographs. Vertigo’s reinterpretation of such a watch bear resemblance with Zenith’s Cronometro, Heuer Bundeswehr etc. And it’s absolutely gorgeous.

It’s 41 x 48.5mm large with 22mm lugs and these dimension makes for a very wearable watch for a lot of wrists. It’s large-ish without being too much. The understated colour-way helps with this. Vertigo is an Italian microbrand, and although I’m not sold on their other designs and personally think they’re struggling a bit with finding their identity I do think they got this one almost perfect.

The Pilot One comes in all black or a reversed panda option. The panda was originally my pick but I changed my order while still in pre-production. I stick with my choice – The black sub-dials are actually matte dark grey and offers just enough contrast against the black dial to make it interesting.

The watch comes on a black leather strap which I’ve never used. It’s fine for a more dressed up look, but that’s not how I wear mine. It looks best on a nato strap, or one of my favourite options is a rattly Seiko SKX jubilee bracelet.

Functionality wise it houses a Seagull ST19, manual wind chronograph movement. Basically the only mechanical chronograph you’ll find under £1000. It’s fine. Runs a bit fast but still within reasonable limits. I use the chronograph a lot in the gym to time the break between sets. It also comes with a uni-directional dive bezel.

Vertigo Pilot One is not flawless

I do have some wishes, should Vertigo ever make a Pilot Two (or Pilot One v2).

  • I’d prefer an aluminium bezel insert instead of ceramic. That’s the utilitarian look I prefer.
  • I’d like a domed sapphire or Hesalite crystal instead of the flat one.
  • The bezel click action is not great. It feels a bit cheap and flimsy.

Part from that this watch is still in my possession for a reason. It is a very nice watch.

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Are you collecting watches or memories?

A moment with someone special is worth remebering.

My big brother has got two watches. One is for work and formal events, and one is for adventures. That’s all you need really. I wish I could be the same. Just own two watches; an everyday wearer and a beater. Instead I’ve got 16 everyday wearers, and because I like a rugged style, nine of them also second as beaters pretty much.

Ok, so why is this a problem for me? I’m not hoarding, all watches get worn and it’s not like they take up space or create a deficit in my wallet. It’s a problem because a watch is an intimate item, being there with you for all sorts of events, and as such they become artefacts of memorabilia. Even with a fairly small collection of 16 watches (albeit six being the Gloriousdays collection) each watch naturally doesn’t get that much wrist time after all, and they’d be lucky to come along on a trip or other eventful experience.

Two watches, a lot lot lot of memories

Take my brother again. Two watches. They come along on a helluva lot more events than any of my watches do individually. I bet he’s got a bunch of memories attached to each of them by now. His promotion to manager, his engagement, his move to the UK, his move back to Sweden, the birth of his child, his bonding trip to Scotland with our dad… At all these big events in his life he was either wearing his Omega or his Tissot. Talk about charging objects with emotional value!

See, I wish I could do the same. Load my watches with memories. Every scratch would mean something. Obviously they still do even if my collection is larger, but there aren’t hardly any scratches on the watches! And I sort of like a bit of evidence of a rough and tumble lifestyle. It’s all part of the charm.

Collect carefully

It’s easy to get carried away in today’s watch world. There are so many enticing offerings out there and, at least for me, watch collecting is not about owning many watches but is about finding a good deal that ticks all the boxes. This chase for intermittent rewards makes it a mere a substitute for gambling, porn (ever heard about watch porn eh?), or casual sex. In essence it goes against my philosophy in life which is about sustainable living, resourcefulness and avoiding excess. Two watches, maybe even just one watch – heck maybe no watch at all? Nah. One or two, that sounds fair. Ok, maybe even three.

At least I’m not hoarding. When a watch loses emotional value or can’t be justified to stay in the collection I sell it. I keep my collection fairly lean. But the problem with that is that sometimes I sell watches that I’ve had for a while and inherently have built up some memories with them. Letting them go is almost like letting a bit of the memories go. I always make sure to document my pieces through my watch photography though. That is one way I can keep my watches forever.

Could I do it?

Say I had to sweat my collection to only two pieces tomorrow. Which ones would I keep? I bet you can relate. It’s not an easy task, however I also think it’s a fun and maybe even healthy thought experiment. Would you pick your latest crush, or would you pick your oldest friend?

Today my answer would look like this. Next week maybe it would look differently.

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My watch collection #7 Blenheim Navigator Luminous

Blenheim Navigator Luminous on leather nato strap

The Blenheim was a Kickstarter watch that didn’t stay long in my possession. I’m not even sure why I backed the project. The watch was cheap, looked ok and I hadn’t bought a watch in a while, I guess.

The Navigator Luminous is heavily inspired by the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms. A dive icon that was invented in the 50’s and still retails, but for a cool 13G (in GBP). I’m not even a particular fan of that watch and today I know better than getting a tired knock-off from a brand without any type of ethos.

See, that’s probably the main issue in this story of watch collecting mishaps. The watch itself was nothing to call home about, but it worked. The materials and finish were ok for the price of £130 (although today you can get better for less on Aliexpress).

The Navi Pro, as the Navigator Luminous was called initially has a Miyota 8215 entry-level automatic movement, a 60-click unidirectional bezel with pretty shoddy rotating action and and materials that feel plastic and cheap.

Blenheim Navigator Luminous on mesh strap

What was so bad about the Blenheim watch?

What really lacked with the watch however was the backstory, the passion, the brand ethos. There is nothing wrong with being a young microbrand. In fact, I’m gravitating more towards these brands for a compelling narrative associated with my watch than a big player brand who mainly lives on heritage and marketing in todays world.

Unfortunately Blenheim lacks brand ethos completely. The campaign was plastered with the all-too-common brand jargon about wanting to fill the gap in the affordable luxury watch market (what an oxymoron, that!) and wanting to pay tribute to the old guard etc etc.

But who are Blenheim? Just another Chinese factory brand with some presence in the UK. I’m importing catalogue watches with Gloriousdays, but I’m not trying to hide it. Instead I build the brand around the message I’d like my products to remind us off.

Watch collecting is a trial and error, learning by doing type hobby. I was almost leaving out the Blenheim from this list as I only had it for a few months. But it was part of my collection nonetheless and I learnt from the process. Don’t be afraid of making mishaps and taking wrong turns as you progress. It’s all part of the journey.

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Is the Seiko Turtle the perfect beater watch for your outdoor adventures?

Well beaten Seiko Turtle

Seiko Turtle has a fascinating history preceding the latest iteration/reissue released in 2016. It’s got its ocean-inspired nickname from the iconic cushion-shape case, but also because its a competent diver – just like its namesake.

Many a gospels have been sung about the Seiko SKX, but I don’t think I’m alone in saying that the Turtle probably deserves more recognition than the SKX in many regards. For me, it’s mainly its visual appeal.


Seiko Turtle will look better the more you beat it up

It’s a gorgeous watch that screams outdoor adventure. It’s a beater in its true meaning. It’s designed to be on your wrist whatever your activity. I especially like the day date feature so you can ensure you’re going to the airport on the right day, after weeks of losing yourself in a new culture, environment or hobby.

I’ve got one on order for myself and I’m curious to see if I fall in love with it in person after being infatuated with it online for a while.

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My watch collection #6 Pancor P02

Pancor P02 dial close-up

Here’s an interesting watch.

Pancor P02 launched as a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 and was delivered in 2018. It’s a unique mechanical watch that work in many settings. Priced around £250, it wasn’t a spontaneous purchase but after a bit of to and fro I thought this would be a piece I could have quite a bit of fun with.

It’s definitely a unique looking watch. To begin with, it’s pistachio green – a colour we don’t see very often on watches. All surfaces on the dial and hands are matte pastel, which contrasts nicely against the case’s chromed and shiny finish. If the body would have been treated with a sandblasted texture, used titanium or even been brushed it would have looked a lot more like a tool watch. Now the Pancor P02 sits somewhere between dressy and tooly.

The face is quite large at 42mm, especially since there is no bezel and the face goes all the way out to the edge of the case. To make this big surface a bit more dynamic and interesting, Marc Schutten the founder of Pancor opted for a Miyota 9132 movement. This adds a 24h subdial at six a clock and a power reserve indicator at 12 a clock.

Without these sub dials the watch undoubtedly would have looked a lot dressier, in which case it would have worked better in a 38 – 40mm size.

Pancor P02 up-front

What is it like to wear the Pancor P02 on the wrist?

As mentioned, the Pancor P02 feels quite tool like. This is much thanks to the pointy yellow second hand and sub dial hands which seem to float in the air thanks to the black center plate. The execution is gorgeous and in combination with the pistachio green gives the watch a feel of a medical instrument that’d belong in a surgical theatre.

This is what caught my attention in the first place. My very first associations wandered to the TV series Lost and the 70’s bunkers of the Dharma Initiative. This watch could’ve been the Dharma Initiative’s officially issued wrist watch.

The watch has 22m lugs and works on a huge variety of straps, from canvas to leather and even mesh. I found that my favourite was on a light beige suede strap for a smart casual look.

All in all the package is unique and fun, but it doesn’t come all without downsides. Although the watch is 10ATM it’s not as utilitarian as I would’ve hoped for. The lume is poor, the date window is small and the yellow hands against green face makes for overall poor legibility.

Desmond from Lost TV show.
Can you imagine the P02 on Desmond’s wrist?

Why did I sell my Pancor P02 watch?

The above mentioned legibility issues could’ve been reason enough to flip a watch, but I think for me what was the killer was the size. With the flat crystal going all the way out to the edges of the case 42mm is simply too large for this type of watch. At least for my wrist. It doesn’t sit bad on the wrist, but it feels large.

At 39 or 40 mill I think the Pancor P02 had been a much more attractive watch that I still would wear with joy (although maybe I wouldn’t have bought it in the first place because I shied away from watches under 41mm in 2017.

After I bought my Venturo Field 2 in 2020 my Pancor became obsolete. They served a similar spot in my collection and I guess you could say it was pushed out by the Venturo.

Nevertheless the P02 still has a spot in my watch loving heart and I remember it dearly. It was also a watch that grew on my partner over time and one of the few watches of mine she approved of.

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The complete list of wood watch brands in 2022

Clipper bamboo watch wrist shot with brown leather jacket.

I started Gloriousdays in 2012. Ten years ago there really weren’t many watch brands specialising in natural materials like wood and bamboo. It felt new and fresh, and it was the perfect accessory for the type of lifestyle I wanted to portrait with the brand.

Quickly the natural material watch trend took off and more small brands joined the trend – all fuelled by whitelabel designs straight out of Shenzhen.

That’s right. Don’t believe the marketing bs about hand crafted watches, made from carefully selected trees as if the makers sat in some little workshop making watches from trees in their back yard. Go on and search wooden watch and you see what I mean.

There’s nothing wrong with the white label model though. Gloriousdays works on this model too. There’s still plenty of time that goes into design concepts, face design, material choices and prototyping in order to create a piece I’m proud to wear and sell.

But due to this easy entry level there are obviously lots of choice in todays market, even when the natural material trend has cooled off a bit.

Wood watch brands in 2022

Let’s take a look at what wood watch brands are available in 2022.


Can’t get more obvious than that. Generic eco-focused branding with the tree planting gimmick. Designs look generic, straight out of the factory catalogue.


Aiming for a more premium segment with some automatic watches in the line-up and ghastly combinations of stone, metal and wood designs, which I’m sure appeal to some people.

Holzkern chronograph watch.


A wood watch brand out of Austria who’s getting their wood from up-cycled whiskey and wine barrels. Again, designs look fairly generic without much brand DNA apparent across watch designs.

Waidzeit chronograph watch.


JORD are OG’s in the wood watch biz. They’ve been around for quite some time and have always impressed with outlandish designs and mixing all sorts of materials. If that’s your thing you should have a look at their site.

A helicopter pilot wearing a JORD watch with poor legibility and fragile materials.
A JORD watch on an apache helicopter pilot’s wrist. Probably one of the most ridiculous pairing to be witnessed in the history of watch marketing.


Another generic, we-plant-trees type brand. They are going (mainly) with simple and clean designs which we all have to appreciate in the wood watch world where the norm seems to be ghastly and loud.

TruWood square and simple design.


More of the factory catalogue on display here. Listen to some of their marketing spiel, which is obviously utter bollocks.

Located in California among the greatest of nature, Treehut is not only inspired by its environment but also driven by the spirit of innovation.

Our watches are handcrafted with great precision and skill. Each watch we make is naturally unique and handcrafted out of real wood and marble.

treehut watch and alibaba watch side by side. It's the same watch design.
The spirit of innovation?


At this point we’re swimming in ghastliness. What is it with wood watches and over the top designs? Isn’t wood products supposed to be all about natural minimalism, letting the beauty of the grained material do the talking etc? Bobobird thinks otherwise.

Bobobird goes all out on the materials and face design, matching wood, metal, skeleton watch face and a dash of red to top it off.

Original Grain

Another OG (pun not intended) in this area of watch making. As far as I can tell they were first out with the ghastly designs and wild combos of stone, metal and wood in their designs. They must’ve inspired hundreds of budding woodtrepreneurs.

Original Grain Taylor watch. A study in ghastliness.

Lux Woods

More of the same that we’ve already seen on this list so many times before. Sorry, this is getting repetitive and boring. But – they do have and OG design (looks familar? Gloriosudays will say yes) among all the over-the-top designs.



You can have wood in many places. Buy a Wristwood watch to have wood on your wrist. Part from the catchy brand name we also find generic designs and soppy origin stories on their site.

I have spent a lifetime working with wood, beginning in my Grandad’s workshop as a young boy, his hand guiding mine whilst I cut out the template for a simple toast rack.

selecting the best materials and developing it into a unique and artisan product

Selecting on, that is?

Wristwood generic white label watch.
This looks so familiar… Where have I seen this before?


Svenn, my man (Sven is a classic Swedish name) – It’s good to see a minimal approach to both watch design and product lineup. Less is more and a fresh breath of air after this hideous list. Keep on rocking! (they also plant trees)

Svenn minimalist wood watch design.

Is the wood watch landscape in 2022 really this bad?

Yes. There is no denying this.

Luckily I don’t have to feel like I’m part of this world with Gloriousdays. Because I use bamboo, not wood 😉

Now go browse some beautiful bamboo watches to cleanse your eyes.

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My watch collection #5 Aquatico Aqua One

I’m not sure how the Aquatico Aqua One ended up on my radar. At that point, in late 2017 I was already quite into my micro brands and subscribed to a lot of pages on Facebook. I’m guessing Aquatico posted something about their new model and at first sight it mainly just looked like another Submariner copy.

At some point later I noticed an update, in which you could get a blue face with snowflake hands. What more, the hands had that gorgeous floating effect when they’re solid white with black near the center. The effect maybe first widely recognised from the Rolex Explorer 2.

That, shared in some rather decent imagery and with a temptingly low price point sealed the deal. It arrived from China a few weeks later.

Aquatico Aqua One next to my other watches in the display box.

What’s the Aquatico Aqua One like?

This version of the Aqua One steals and borrows shamelessly from Rolex and Tudor and lands in a rather decent combination with a good looking dial as the main attraction. The white snowflake hands with the black center are maybe what I like most about this watch. You could also buy it with mercedes hands and it just looked so boring in my eyes. I’m really not a fan of mercedes hands.

The second feature to highlight is the beautiful blue sunray dial. It’s dark blue and they’ve managed to match it well with the dark blue ceramic bezel. The bezel is 60 clicks uni-directional but feels a bit off the shelf and has a polished surface which doesn’t match the case and bracelet’s brushed finish.

Aquatico Aqua One on blue nato strap.

The 42/50/22 dimensions gives you a fairly large watch but the case is slim and overall it’s a great all-rounder. I’ve worn this on many trips, while kitesurfing, and as a daily beater. It’s got a bit of sentimental value by now and as a bonus it has one of the ugliest caseback artwork known to man – the infamous mermaid on a dolphin. Because the lugs are quite far out from the case the watch does not look good on two-piece straps which leaves a gap close to the body. It does look great on the fitted oyster bracelet though, and I also often wear it on natos.

Why did I sell my Aquatico Aqua One?

I don’t mind my Aqua One, but it just doesn’t stand out in my collection that much nowadays and I’d like to replace it with another blue dial diver such as the Seiko Turtle or something akin to a vintage Tudor Submariner.

In fact it’s been for sale for some time and the day after I wrote this post someone bought it and I purchased a Seiko SRP773. Law of attraction?

Aquatico Aqua One on the wrist.
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How to pull off a two tone watch

Pagani Two-tone BB Chrono hommage.

Are you thinking about getting a two-tone watch but aren’t sure you can pull off the blingy association with old men and drug dealers? It is true that, although not as loud as a gold watch, a two tone watch is still quite a piece with plenty of wrist presence regardless of size.

I’m not sure when I developed a liking for two tone watches but it’s likely that the silver and gold Tudor Black Bay Chrono might have been the trigger. I now own two pieces and would not turn down more in the future. After all, I am in my 40s so I can probably consider myself safely within two-tone territory.

How to dial down on the two-tone watch bling

Dress for the occasion is naturally the first step towards having the appropriate watch on your wrist. I wore a two-tone on the beach earlier in the summer and it just didn’t feel right. In the evening the same day, paired with a black tee it looked great on my tanned wrist.

Two-tone watch on black nato on man in the park.

Two tone watch on nato strap

If you’re into the two tone look but aren’t sure if you can pull it off I have a great tip for you. Replace the bracelet with a nato strap. This way you can enjoy the beauty of the two metals but without going full on. It’s a more casual look that still works dressed up.

A leather strap can also work really well. Play around with various strap options and I’m sure you’ll find something you’ll love. Personally I always get the watch with a bracelet if the option is there. I have my bracelet periods and I have my nato and leather periods. Get the fitted bracelet for a perfect match.

Wolbrook rose two tone watch on black seatbelt nato strap.

More subtle two tone watch styles

Another way to go more subtle on your two-tone approach is to get a rose gold and stainless steel two-tone watch. It’s a lot less in your face blingy and takes away a lot of the old-man vibes. Be aware that it looks better on darker skin though.

Finally, you can find a watch with a jubilee bracelet instead of the typical oyster style. This reduces the amount of gold on the bracelet and gives the watch a more subtle look.

Wolbrook Skindiver on a two-tone rose gold jubilee bracelet.
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My watch collection #4 Deep Blue Nato Diver

Deep Blue Nato Diver

When Deep Blue announced their Nato Diver model in 2016 the watch world raised an eyebrow. Why would a micro brand make a near like-for-like copy of the Seiko SKX007 and sell it for pretty much the same price as the original?

I like the SKX. It’s a classic. But there was one detail that didn’t resonate with me back then – the size. The SKX is not a small watch with its 42.5 diameter, but in 2016 that was too small for me. Deep Blue’s version on the other hand is 44mm and wears like a tank. Well, back then that was how I liked my watches. Tank style.

Deep Blue Nato Diver 44mm wrist shot.
It’s a chunky boy! 44/51mm on a 17cm wrist.

What’s the Deep Blue Nato Diver like?

If big dive watches is your thing you’re probably familiar with brands like Aragon and Deep Blue already. They make good value, robust tanks. The Nato Diver ‘SKX’ homage is no exception. It uses a NHS36 automatic movement with daycare complication and ticks all the boxes of a sturdy tool watch. If you’re into the SKX look but want a larger version I cannot fault it in any way.

Unfortunately it’s sold out on Deep Blue’s website.

Seiko SKX007 and Deep Blue Nato / Military Diver side by side for comparison.
Side by side: Seiko SKX007 and Deep Blue Nato Diver

Why did I sell my Deep Blue Nato Diver?

In 2018 I bought the original Seiko skx007, and with that rendered the Nato Diver superfluous. During the two years it was in my possession my preference had changed in favour of smaller watches. Smaller as in 42mm, i.e not really that small. And now 42mm is borderline too large and the sweet spot is around 40mm. This keeps constantly changing it seems.

Having said that – if you have a watch you love but the size doesn’t feel right, it could be worth hanging on to it. Do’t sell it unless you really have to. One day you might sway back to that watch size and then it will be there waiting for you. I might be speaking from experience.

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Is it safe to buy pre-order watches on Kickstarter?

Nardi scam watch

“No need to worry, Mark is just taking his time, focusing on perfecting our watches rather than updating the backers on every single detail.”

The comforting words are coming from a fellow project backer on the ‘backers only’ Facebook group. Here, Mark Rogers, founder of Nardi watches has been communicating regularly with his backers for the last 17 months, all while the Corona virus has created chaos in the world and stopped engine in most factories, Nardi’s included.

But lately communication has started to slow down, with longer and longer silence between the updates. What we’re all waiting for is a gorgeous dive watch made from a UK battle ship scrap metal, paid for up-front to finance the making of it. That is how Kickstarter works. They are quick to say that you’re not buying a product on the crowdsourcing platform. You’re backing a project which may or may not succeed to deliver the final product.

With no guarantees offered from Kickstarter, this makes the platform ripe for abuse from scammers ready to take your money and walk away. We fear this is what Mark Rogers has now done, and there is nothing we can do about it. A few lucky manages to get a refund from their credit card providers. Others are not so lucky.

Angry and upset backers of Nardi Watch Company.

Watches on Kickstarter

Watch projects on Kickstarter are common. Most of them are bland off-the-shelf white label products from Chinese factories. Pick a catalogue design, add a custom logo and a soppy background story about how your grandfather got you into horology. Since you can’t find a good and affordable watch on the market you feel obliged to design your own to honour him and give the market the timepiece we all need.

Hit ‘Go live’ and watch the money roll in.

That should be a crime in itself. But if there’s demand there’s a market, and good marketing works. Scams on the other hand there is no way to sugarcoat. It’s the lowest of low and it’s sadly common on Kickstarter.

There are of course also genuine, honest and great looking watches available on the platform. I’ve been a backer of several, of which the Pancor P02 was a great unique looking piece, and the Wolbrook Skindiver WT is one of my favourite watches.

The tricky bit is to detect which ones are too good to be true, or look like they can’t make it all the way to delivery.

Pancor P02 was successfully launched via Kickstarter.
Pancor P02 was a successfully launched via Kickstarter.

How to avoid scams and bad projects on Kickstarter

Since Kickstarter doesn’t provide any type of guarantee at all, it’s up to you as the backer/consumer to do your due diligence on the maker.

Is this the maker’s first project? Risky business. The more established a company or maker is the more likely they can be trusted with your money. Still no guarantee though.

Where are they based? Is there a way to contact them, ideally in person, if things go awry? Anonymous mail box addresses won’t get my backing.

Is the communication open and honest? Is the pricing and delivery timeline realistic? Are there prototypes out for review with the regular YouTube channels? Don’t get fooled by lofty promises without real world backing.

Is the campaign page well made, without typos and stock art imagery? If the maker doesn’t care about the detail of the campaign, why would they care about the details of the project?

Kickstarter is beyond its expiry date

If Kickstarter wants to continue to be a well used platform they need to take accountability for scams. Launching watch projects on Kickstarter is still popular, but it’s passed its expiry date. Microbrands are ditching the platform for their own website pre-orders and consumers are not willing to take a risk on a pre-order without refund guarantees.

Be careful if you do choose to back a watch on Kickstarter, or if you want consumer rights, why not have a browse of Gloriousdays bamboo watches or my used mechanical collection?

So what happened to Mark Rogers and his battle ship watch in the end? No one knows. It’s still a mystery, and thanks to shady policies and lack of consumer rights we’ll probably never find out.

Wolbrook Skindiver WT was successfully launched via Kickstarter.
Let’s end on a happy note. The Skindiver WT Two-tone by Wolbrook was the result of a very very successful KS campaign. And it makes me happy every time I wear it.