Glasgow, for readers of this website, might be most associated with anOrdain, a brand that we’ve covered extensively on Worn & Wound and have a great deal of affection for. But it’s also the home to Paulin, a watch brand that has existed since 2013, and shares many of the same ideals as anOrdain, sustainability and unique design rooted in Scottish traditions among them. Now, with the all new Neo, Paulin and anOrdain have collaborated on a watch that now seems almost inevitable given their geographic proximity and shared values.
The Neo is not just a collaboration with anOrdain – Paulin has also enlisted contemporary jewelry artist Helen Swan to consult on the design, which incorporates real hand craft in a Paulin watch for the first time, and at a price that represents a real value for level of design you’re getting in the watch. The centerpiece of the Neo, literally and figuratively, is the anodized aluminum dial (Swan’s specialty is working with aluminum). While aluminum is not typically thought of as a material used in traditional handcrafts, the anodization and dyeing process takes real skill, and the end result is far from the industrial aluminum that likely springs to mind when you hear the word. The Neo can be had in three dial variants: butterscotch yellow, sky blue, or white. All have a whimsical quality to them, with a custom typeface, a distinctive block hour hand, and playful contrasting colors. The use of color really has anOrdain’s stamp all over it, and it’s great to see how their design philosophy manifests itself in a watch at a lower price point, using materials outside of their wheelhouse. (anOrdain, of course, is known for their use of enamel in their dials).
A bit about the anodizing process, as it’s not often used in watchmaking and thus likely not very well understood. While most dials are made from brass and painted, the aluminum dials used in the Neo have their color sealed in through the anodizing process, which consists of washing the dials in an electromechanical bath. This is essentially a process of “controlled corrosion,” and the skill is in understanding how long to submit the dials to that process until the desired color and finish is obtained. Each dial is anodized and dyed in Helen Swan’s studio, and then printed in the anOrdain workshop, alongside their own enamel dials.
The case is 38mm in stainless steel, and features brushed finishing on all sides. It’s sized to be appropriate for both men and women, and at just 11.6mm thick it should wear comfortably for just about anyone. The Neo is clearly a showcase for Helen Swan’s dial work, so it makes sense that the case is somewhat subdued by comparison. Paulin has elected to go with a Hesalite box-crystal, which keeps costs down and should also provide a warm, appealing optical effect. Anyone who has compared the Speedmaster with an acrylic crystal to its sapphire sibling will understand what I’m getting at here.
The Neo runs on a Seiko NH35A automatic movement, a perfectly acceptable workhorse movement for a watch like this. It’s not high horology, but it’s well understood by most watchmakers and allows Paulin to get these watches with real design pedigree into the hands of consumers at a very competitive price point. The retail price is £395, which equates to a little over $500 after currency conversion.
The Neo, as a collaborative effort, has a lot of appeal. And while you certainly don’t have to be from Glasgow or have a connection to the city to really “get” the watch, I imagine it doesn’t hurt, and that this watch will feel really special to Glasgow natives. That’s really the magic of a good collaboration – it allows each party to contribute something that’s the best of their brand, or their work, to create a product that feels uniquely of a particular place or time. Paulin