I came across Triwa on accident. I was browsing tumblr and this weird watch caught my eye. I took a closer look and thought, “wow, that’s different”. What I saw was a strange mix of classic watch elements, fashion colors, strange materials, and a price point geared towards mass-market consumption. Then I looked at the brand and thought, once again, “wow, that’s different”. A Swedish brand that makes watches, watch straps and sunglasses and presents them with the eye and direction of a fashion brand. Needless to say, I was intrigued enough to write and get a sample for review, which they kindly provided. The watch I received is a vintage inspired quartz chronograph called the Nevil that runs $285. It’s available in a handful of colors, but I went for a classic mix called “The Havana”, which balances silver, a few shades of brown and spot of orange for a nice 70’s vibe. Receiving it, I was quite pleased with the level of detail they put into the watch, the various components, and moreover, the refined-look. But mostly, I was pleased to find a brand in this market niche that was not playing down their designs for uninitiated customers. As they put it in their documentation:
“Triwa is deadly serious about being playful and unpretentious. And we don’t mind being provocative in a creative, uplifting way. We always have a rebellious approach to the game being played”.
Case: Brown Acetate
Movement: Miyota OS21
Dial: Silver Sunburst and Brown
Strap: Organic Leather NATO
Water Res.: 5 ATM
Dimensions: 42mm, 50mm lug-to-lug
Lug Width: 20mm
Crown: 5.5mm screwdown
Weight: 68g on leather
Warranty: country specific
The Triwa Nevil features a 42mm brown acetate case, with a polished metal bezel, pushers and crown, as well as a mineral crystal lens. The brown acetate has an interesting transparency to it, giving it a dark amber-like appearance. Though acetate is certainly not as durable a material as steel, or probably even ABS, its unique material properties lend the watch an interesting look as well as a comfortable light-weight. The shape of the case itself is quite typical, with a slab-sided cylinder and slender triangular lugs. The two chrono-pushers are themselves unadorned, but the screw down crown is signed with a Triwa trident logo. The chromed bezel that circles the dial adds a nice finishing touch to the case design. Though the watch is primarily plastic, it does not feel flimsy by any means, though I would be hesitant to do anything too physical while wearing it.
The caseback, which is mostly hidden behind the NATO-style strap, is stainless steel and screw down. Around the perimeter of the back they have etched a few things, most notably “Designed in Sweden” and “Made in P.R.C”.
The dial design of the Triwa is well thought-out and executed, capturing the aesthetic of 60’s-70’s chronographs without feeling contrived or like a copy of anything too specific. The color variation I received has a silver sunburst face with brown recessed sub-dials running horizontal from 9 to 3. The hour index is marked with small rectangular metallic applied markers, which add some depth and texture to the dial. Around the perimeter of the sunburst is a minute index in railroad track style that is printed in either black or very dark brown. Moving out to the non-rotating internal bezel, there is a white seconds index, as part of the chronograph function, of various sized ticks at 1-second intervals and 1/5th second intervals. While I appreciate the technical look of the 1/5th precision, the chronograph itself is a typical quartz chronograph and only measures in whole seconds, making that index just for show. The internal bezel itself is a sharply sloped brown plastic that contrasts nicely with the sunburst beneath and ties the dial into the case.
The recessed sub-dials are a chocolaty brown color with white indexes and small polished steel stick hands. The register at 9 is part of the chronograph, measuring elapsed minutes up to 60 minutes. The index here is fairly dense, with marks for each minute, numerals every 20 and larger lines every 10. The register at 3 is a 24hr dial, with numerals at 8, 16 and 24, as well as marks of varying weight for the individual hours. The hour and minute hands are polished steel straight baton shapes with very mild lume filling. Over them is the eye-catching bright orange chrono seconds hand. Not that this is the sole design feature of the watch, but the sudden introduction of hot orange adds a lot of character. There is no active seconds hand on the watch, which is in fact a feature (or lack of feature?) of the Miyota OS21 movement at the watch’s heart. Personally, I don’t mind the lack of a seconds hand on a quartz watch.
Strap & Wearability
One of the most interesting features of the watch is in fact the leather 20mm NATO-style strap it comes on. I say “NATO-style” rather than NATO as there are a few design details that Triwa has changed from the typical design, to both differentiate, and perhaps make it a bit more consumer-friendly in the mass market. The strap is a very attractive medium brown leather, which they call organic, with strong red tones. It has unfinished edges and a fairly smooth whole-grain top surface. The leather is supple out of the box, though a bit plastic feeling. The strap is fitted with typical square ring hardware in unadorned polished steel with the exception of the ring on the “return” portion of the strap, which is marked with a logo.
The first point of real differentiation between this and a typical NATO is that instead of stitching at various points, such as to keep the rings from shifting, they went with small-blackened rivets. Though a slight difference, this does change the feeling of the strap, adding a bit of decoration to it. I happen to think it is a great touch that adds to the overall personality of the watch and simply looks cool. The other big difference is that the strap is designed so the watch will sit towards the center of the strap, rather than closer to one side. What this does is put the telltale NATO strap return area under the wrist rather than on the side. Once again, though this perhaps betrays the original aesthetic, it does take away the sometimes-awkward bulk a NATO can add. Considering this is a unisex watch that is likely often sold to people with no knowledge or experience with NATOs, I think it was a smart move on their part. It also helps maintain focus on the watchcase and dial when on the wrist. It’s worth noting too that a whole section of the Triwa site is dedicated to NATO straps, coming in various leather colors as well as Nylon variations, encouraging people to grab another strap or two with their purchase.
The Nevil is quite pleasant to wear. It’s at the 43mm sweet spot of being a large watch, but not cumbersome or exhausting. The acetate case and quartz movement make it very light, coming in at only 68g, and the leather strap is soft and comfortable. The looks are spot on with this watch. It’s sporty but refined, vintage but not dated; it’s something you could wear in any casual situation, and probably slip into less-than-casual ones without notice. And that’s not really surprising given that Triwa clearly takes the approach of a fashion brand, putting looks first.
It’s not often that we receive a watch with cool packaging. Sure, we get them with beautiful and collectible boxes of wood and leather…but very rarely are they cool, or dare I say, fun. Well, Triwa went for fun and succeeded triumphantly. At first, it appears to be a relatively plain medium grey box with a Triwa logo in white. On the bottom, in all caps, is written “Designed in Stockholm for friends, like-minded and people with great taste”, as if to say “welcome to the club”. Well, that’s just the sleeve around the box. Slip that off, and you immediately notice the hot orange interior that was hiding from view: nice touch. The box within is the same medium grey on a now textured heavy stock that sits over an inner box. There are small semi circles cutouts on either side in order to grasp the inner box. This area is in the same hot orange as the interior of the sleeve, but flip the box over and you see that the hot orange area was not just a hint of color, but rather the remnant of splatter, hinting that the conservative exterior is just a façade, and that you are getting closer to the party. Remove that and you are finally presented with the watch, sitting in a dense foam cradle. The inside of the lid houses the instruction manual, a grey booklet, and behind that another hot orange panel thanking you for your purchase. Overall, the construction of the box is very good, it is compact and unlike most watch boxes, it builds anticipation for the product within.
The Triwa Nevil is simply a fun watch to wear that looks great. Is it the best value at $285? No, but it’s certainly has unique qualities that will set it apart from other watches in that range. As a watch that is geared more towards casual watch wearers and not us die-hard nerds, I think it achieves a lot for what it is. For one thing, they took the dial design seriously and clearly were looking at classic watches while designing it. Secondly, they put a NATO-style strap on it that looks and feels great, adding a bit of ruggedness to the watch as well as encouraging buyers to swap out straps and try different looks. Lastly, the acetate body has a very different look from anything I am used to on a watch; and it’s a cool look. The Nevil is available in various colors, some more masculine than others, but all quite interesting. I know that Triwa has experimented in mechanicals before, with a limited edition called the “Herr-Judit” and hopefully, they will continue to pursue that direction as well.
Review unit supplied by Triwa
by Zach Weiss