Review: The Pinion Atom

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Based just outside of London, England, Pinion watches was founded in 2013 by Piers Berry. With a background in graphic design and having previously worked with both Bell & Ross and Bremont, the time came when Piers decided to create a range of watches himself. In the five years since and with four watches already under their belt to date, Pinion have managed to create a distinctive and coherent design language focusing chiefly on simple three-hand sports watches.

The firm’s latest model, the Atom, is also distinctly “Pinion,” but it represents a slight departure from the preceding watches in terms of movement and price. Pinion remain committed to trusted Swiss and German based manufacturers with final assembly performed in the UK, but whereas the Axis (and Axis II), Revival 1969, and Pure models all housed Swiss calibers ranging from the mechanical Unitas 6498 and Valjoux 7734 to the automatic ETA 2824-2, the Pinon Atom makes use of the Japanese Miyota 9015 automatic caliber. In doing so, the Atom represents a new entry-level option for the brand.

Let’s take a closer look.

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$934

Review: The Pinion Atom

Case
Blasted stainless steel
Movement
Miyota 9015
Dial
Black with guilloche center
Lume
C1-GL Super-LumiNova
Lens
Sapphire with internal AR
Strap
Vintage-style leather
Water Resistance
100 meters
Dimensions
41mm x 49mm
Thickness
10.5mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Push/pull
Warranty
2 years
Price
$934

Case

The Atom’s case comes in at 41 millimeters in diameter, which makes it the smallest of the Pinion range to date. For a practical and no-nonsense watch such as this aims to be, that seems like a pretty good number on paper. With the black dial, large Arabic numerals, and blasted case this watch could easily get away with being a couple of millimeters larger without becoming clownish, but for everyday use 41 feels about right, and it falls in my preferred size range for a seven-inch wrist. The other case dimensions are all in great proportion—49 millimeters lug-to-lug and 10.5 millimeters thick. The Atom is unobtrusive most of the time but with enough presence to give off an unequivocal tool-watch vibe.In addition to the watch being assembled in the UK, the case finishing is also done there. For the Atom, the stainless steel is given a bead-blasted finish. The slightly dulled color helps to create crisp highlights and shadows in all the right places, and in particular it shows off the detail of the stepped bezel. The majority of the case and lug lines are fairly sober and rounded, so the little extra detail here is welcome.The brushed stainless steel case back is nicely engraved with an atom motif and the serial number. The Pinion Atom is pressure tested to 100 meters, and the crown is of the push/pull variety and is sealed with double O-rings. The large crown is easy to operate and is given the same finish as the case. The highlights and shadows here also echo the dial texture. The Atom comes with a flat sapphire crystal featuring an internal anti-reflective coating, which I have found to be more than sufficient here.

Dial

Taking an initial glance at the watch, the dial is probably the most striking feature—further enhanced by the case finishing and simplicity, both of which focus the eye toward the dial. The design of the large Arabic numerals is modern and eye-catching. The numerals at 12, three, six, and nine o’clock are slightly oversized and filled with Super-LumiNova (as are the hands), while the remaining hour indices are slightly smaller and colored with a pale shade of yellow that adds some warmth to the austerity of an Explorer-stye dial. The other obvious dial feature is the raised central section which features a Clous de Paris textured pattern. The light plays off the undulating pyramidal structures to give the dial plenty of energy. Too much texture would be overbearing on this type of watch, and though it comes close, the balance feels just about right here. The Atom’s hands are large swords filled with the same C1-GL Super-LumiNova that is a striking white above the black dial in the light, but glows green in the dark. This choice of Super-LumiNova isn’t necessarily going to glow the brightest, but it offers great contrast during daylight hours.

The shape of the hour and minute hands—long swords with somewhat blunted ends—seems well matched to the typeface used for the hour numerals. The lengths of the hour and minute hands are matched by the radius of the dial’s raised textured section and the start of the chapter ring’s minute markers, respectively.

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Another nice touch that adds to the dial’s dynamism is the chapter ring. The markings are fairly simple, but the circular brushing reveals some depth to the dial as different segments are caught by, or hidden from, the light. Finally, and I’m not generally one to shout about my country, but I have to say that I appreciate both the presence and subtlety of “England” printed at the bottom below six o’clock.

Movement

Inside the Pinion Atom beats the Miyota 9015. Over the last few years, this automatic caliber has become more prevalent on the market as both makers and consumers have come to accept it as a robust and lower-priced alternative to comparable Swiss movements. The 9015 beats at 28,800 bph with a power reserve of 42 hours. As owners of Miyota 9015-equipped watches will note, the unidirectional winding is very efficient and the watch will start running from empty with minimal movement.

One slight amendment to the movement is that the date wheel has been reprinted. This includes orienting it for six o’clock and matching both the color and the typeface to better fit the dial. It may not seem like a huge thing to do, but it does have a sizeable impact on the overall appearance of the watch.

Straps and Wearability

The Atom seen here comes supplied with a vintage-style chocolate-brown leather strap. This particular strap is fairly thick and feels like the kind that may take a little while to really break in properly, but should age well as it does. The strap doesn’t taper so it is 20mm at the lugs and buckle. Such a choice of strap is in keeping with the casual, utilitarian theme of the watch, but the watch should take well to most nylon or leather straps as long as they aren’t too dressy.

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The 10.5mm height of the watch means it doesn’t sit too tall on the wrist, so you can certainly get away with an extra layer of fabric behind it with a nylon strap without it feeling too bulky.

Since sending this watch out for review, Pinion have announced that from now on all Atom units will be shipped with an English-made leather strap that features a more prominent grain and vintage style stitching. It also looks to be a bit thinner.

Conclusion

Being the entry-level model from the Pinion brand, the Atom won’t necessarily have all the same flourishes, level of detail, or finishing as its siblings costing at least twice as much, but that doesn’t mean the Atom skimps on quality. The packaging also includes a high quality leather watch roll with long sleeves where the watches are intended to lie flat rather than sitting on the folded strap. Now, you may not need a watch roll or you may already have a travel solution, but it’s another example of the small details that are evident in the majority of this watch.

The little touches—like the different dial textures; the harmony through the hands, numerals, and date wheel; and the case finishing—are the things that tell you that a lot of thought has gone into the watch to make it a cohesive and balanced piece.

If you are looking only at the specifications, then there are probably plenty of watches out there that offer the same for less money (the Pinion Atom retails for £685.33 excluding VAT, which is about $934), but this is one of those watches where the sum of its parts matters more than any individual element. Pinion

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Brad stumbled into the watch world in 2011 and has been falling down the rabbit hole ever since. Based in London, Brad's interests lie in anything that ticks, sweeps or hums and is slightly off the beaten track.
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