Recently I was approached by Janus Aarup from the Danish brand VEJRHØJ (pronounced: ViaHoy in Danish) to check out his unique watches and to get an update on a new smaller sized line that the brand will be releasing soon. I decided to go for the Nautic 65° North which Janus told me was one of their more popular sellers. VEJRHØJ’s line merges natural woods, stainless steel and sapphire crystals to create elegant, timeless watch designs full of Nordic style and quality. While being a dress watch the wooden elements give it that little something extra that easily could make this watch your everyday go to.
The watch Janus sent me arrived right before Thanksgiving here in the states and I’ve been wearing it for most of the last week. Before I start my review, I must confess that this is not my first run-in with a wood watch. I picked up a WeWood on Amazon a few years back and although I liked the lightness of the watch and especially liked the wooden link band, it did not appeal to me. The WeWood felt cheap and with everything being made of wood it just did not work for me, ultimately, I give the watch to a buddy who loves it and wears it regularly. Given my wood watch history I was excited to check out VEJRHØJ’s interpretation of a watch using wood as a major design element.
Case: 42mm x 10.5mm thick
Dial: Dark Stained Walnut
Glass: Sapphire Crystal with Beveled Edges
Case: Walnut Bezel with 316L Gunmetal Stainless Steel
Strap: 20mm Genuine Black Leather
Movement: Swiss Ronda 762 3H Quartz
The Nautic 65° North arrived in a very nice bamboo box engraved with VEJRHØJ on the lid, and my initial impression of the watch was WOW. As a trained industrial designer and amateur wood crafter the fit, finish and application of the Walnut Bezel surround was astounding to me. At first, I figured that the surround was made with a thick piece of veneer, but I could not find any seams on the piece which means that it had to have been milled from a solid dowel of walnut, an impressive feat considering the difficulty of working with wood at these small sizes. The next thing that impressed me with the Nautic was that the wooden component was complimented so well with the stainless steel, both on the case and the dial, the design strikes a purposeful yet natural balance.
As with all new arrivals to my collection, the newbie gets an upfront slot in my daily wear watch box. After a couple of days seeing the Nautic compared to my other watches, I noticed that it is the only watch I have that has a truly clean unadorned dial. Every watch I have has either, hours, minutes and/or seconds markers on the dials, in varying degrees. The Nautic at first glace comes off as unadorned, but upon further inspection you notice the small drilled holes for minute and ever so slightly larger holes for the hour counters in the metal band at the outer edge of the dial. Another detail of the Nautic that registered slowly for me was the delicate bevel on the sapphire glass, I really noticed it when I started doing my photography, the 2mm or so of bevel helps to give the Nautic a jewel like finish that works perfectly with the simple silver stick hour and minute hands. The bevel also gives some protection to the wood bezel as it sits slightly higher than it.
One of the more interesting features of the Nautic is the pass-through watch band. It is very much like a dressier version of a NATO strap. Janus was kind enough to include an additional blue leather strap that totally works great with a blue leather jacket that I got in Alaska a few years back, it’s like the watch and coat were made for each other. I was curious if a 20mm NATO would fit the Nautic so I put a brown NATO on and it worked perfectly. The NATO was slimmer than the very nice leather straps that came with the Nautic (they are embossed with an impression of the watch back for a snug fit) which would allow from some slipping, but it did not seam to be a problem while I was wearing it. During my email correspondence with Janus he recommended putting a tiny bit of LockTite on the screws holding the back on just to make sure they stay put and I would definitely agree with him. Along with the extra strap VEJRHØJ includes a screw driver to remove the tiny screws when swapping straps.
If I were to be picky, the only things that have bothered me about the VEJRHØJ Nautic 65° North is the reflectivity of the sapphire crystal. In certain lights and conditions, the hands were a little hard to see. This is not a deal breaker, but I think an anti-reflective coating on the back of the crystal would make the amazing dial easier to read and to see all the cool little details. The other aspect of the Nautic that I thought could be upgraded, would be to change the Ronda 762 Movement to an automatic or manual movement. Not that there is anything wrong with the 762, it is ultra-efficient with a 10 year battery life, and metal structure, it just doesn’t have the feel and character of say a Stellita SW200-1 manual wind movement. The Ronda movement makes lots of sense especially at the current retail price of €375.00 or about $425.02 depending on the exchange rate. After spending the week with the VEJRHØJ Nautic 65° North I can confidently say there is nothing else like this watch on the market that I’m aware of. The use of wood makes this watch special without overpowering it or making it all about the wood. Janus Aarup and Danish designer Bo Bonfils have a winning combination of elegant design, unique construction with topnotch finishing in the Nautic 65° North. I’m most excited to see where the VEJRHØJ line goes from here, I would love to see the next Nautic with an automatic or manual movement, anti-reflexive crystal, maybe a little lume on the hands and behind the tiny circular cut outs on the outer dial edge? Janus did share with me that he has a new smaller line at 34mm that is geared towards women buyers ready for pre-order, each color way in the line has its own name, Luna, Stella, Freya and Nora. Check out this new collection here, defiantly something for the lady in every watch collector’s life.
To sum it all up the VEJRHØJ Nautic 65° North is a unique watch that accomplishes Janus’ passion for design, craftsmanship and watches. It is clear to me after spending some time with a VEJRHØJ that it deserves the “Brand New Nordic 2017” award for best upcoming Danish watch brand. I see great things coming from VEJRHØJ in the years ahead and look forward to watching the story unfold.
Keep on a Watching!
VEJRHO Nautic 65° North
Unique and interesting watch. Wears super comfortable and looks great. Plus+ points for the unique use of wood and the quality of the finished watch. Knocked off a few points for the reflective crystal and quartz movement. Overall a solid watch and great addition to any collection.