Review: The De Rijke & Co Amalfi 1S

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Often with watches, we are promised something that goes above and beyond just telling time. Whether in the form of water resistance that can survive terrifying depths, the ability to measure lap times and speeds to absurd precision, or track the motion of celestial bodies to name but a few, watches do a lot of stuff that frankly, we don’t often need. When I first saw the De Rijke & Co. Amalfi 1S driving watch, I had a feeling that it would fall into a similar category. Novel, but unnecessary.

Before getting to the watch, a quick intro to the brand. Based in the Netherlands, De Rijke & Co. is a relatively new company founded by Laurens De Rijke, a designer and engineer. Inspired during an 11,000 kilometer Vespa ride, Laurens designed the Amalfi series to be an ideal watch for the “gentleman driver.” That is to say, not race car drivers or those who aspire towards achieving high speeds, but rather those who drive for the pleasure of the road and the landscapes they traverse. The name exemplifies this, being taken from a romantic notion of driving along the Amalfi coast. First launched with a limited edition of just 99 pieces, the Amalfi 1S is now back in a non-limited, but still numbered edition.

The trick up the sleeve of the Amalfi 1S is the ability for the dial to swivel within the case, allowing it to be oriented at different positions within a 90-degree arc. The idea is that the watch can transform and be worn at various angles to best suit the needs and, perhaps, style of a driver at any given time. That includes strapped under the wrist, with 12 at 3 while driving down winding roads, on top of the wrist with time at 12 when stopped for a cappuccino, or anywhere in between.

While not the first watch to move 12 from between the lugs, the Amalfi is one of only a small few to allow for a “choose your own angle” approach (look up the Seiko Izul, you can thank me later). What’s more, is that it does so with the utmost elegance. Typically, driving watches veer towards aggressive styling inspired by the masculine machines they are meant to accompany. The Amalfi, as said before, is more about the experience of the weekend cruise. As such, the design is restrained, discreet, and bears no overt automotive references. It’s also chock-full of surprising and well-considered details.

Prior to trying out the watch, while I found the concept appealing, I questioned its utility. It definitely seemed like a clever function and was at least different than any other watch I’ve tried, but like the 910m of water resistance I’ll likely never use on a 1000m diver (ok, 998m) ultimately irrelevant to my enjoyment of the watch. Well, after spending a few weeks with the Amalfi 1S, working, living, and yes, even driving with it, I am surprised by how useful the rotation function is, though not necessarily as intended.

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$2790

Review: The De Rijke & Co Amalfi 1S

Case
Stainless Steel
Movement
Sellita SW300
Dial
Vespa White
Lume
Yes
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Leather
Water Resistance
50m
Dimensions
38 x 46mm
Thickness
9.6mm
Lug Width
mm
Crown
Screw-Down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$2790

Case

The novelty and the cleverness of the Amalfi 1S watches lie in the case design. Measuring 38 x 46 x 9.6mm, which includes a domed sapphire crystal, it’s remarkably svelte and well proportioned. While always a good attribute, the fact that this case is hiding a mechanism makes it genuinely impressive. First, logically speaking a dial can’t just rotate as they are fixed to the movement, so any solution would require some sort of dual-case system. Prior to receiving the watch, I assumed that the position of the dial/inner case was fixed by tightening a screw-down crown, much like the locking bezel of Yema Superman. This, thankfully, was false.

De Rijke (remember, he is an engineer) created a system that functions much like a bezel. In order to adjust the position of the dial, you use the crown as a little handle and essentially turn the whole thing up to 90 degrees, which pleasantly sits into 20ish clicks keeping it in place. It’s intuitive and works very well. Rather than a full case-in-case design, the watch uses a shroud that includes the lugs, around essentially a floating inner case. The upside here is a lack of bulk or added thickness, though the downside is that the case back rotates as well (an issue that will become more clear when discussing straps).

Design-wise, the case is as elegant as the rotation solution. From above, it’s all dial, with only the thinnest strip of polished metal meeting the crystal. The lugs, which are solid and only allow for pass-through straps, are slender and curvaceous, quickly disappear under your strap. Depending on how you have the dial positioned, the crown will appear anywhere from one-thirty to five-thirty. The screw-down crown is wide, but not very thick, and features a band of coining for grip. Because of the rotation mechanism, the crown is at the end of a standoff, giving it a unique appearance. Flip the watch over to find a simple case-back held on by six screws that features a large window showing off the Sellita SW300 inside.

The case sides maintain a simple approach, with the noted exception of a slot on the right side that allows for the movement of the crown and rotation of the inner case. Through this slot you are seeing the inner case, which has been etched with a few words that are visible depending on the position of the dial. With the dial oriented normally, “Amalfi Series” in a hand-written script is visible, while with the dial fully turned so 12 is at 3, the watch’s serial and individual numbering are seen. Otherwise, all you are met with nicely brushed flat surfaces that contrast the polished bezel.

The case sides also seamlessly blend into a stirrup-esque loop that is used to attach straps or let them easily pass underneath. The lack of spring bars is of course going to be controversial and perhaps a nuisance to some, as existing two-piece straps will not work, however any mil-strap or pass-through will. However, I think it’s better to think of this like one would an integrated lug design, as the goal is for you to use the brand’s two-piece straps, which feature a very intentional and appealing aesthetic that is made possible by this design.

A detail worth noting is the sapphire crystal design. From the side, it’s a gently domed crystal, like many you’ve likely seen, but as with the case itself, holds a cool trick. Rather than being double-domed, which would minimize distortion and magnification, it’s single domed and designed to create the illusion that the dial is almost pressed up against the glass, much like in an oil-filled watch (Sinn Hydro). The cool part is that it does this with minimal edge distortion. The result is a dial that almost feels larger than possible and has great legibility at lower angles.

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Dial

The dial of the Amalfi 1S is firmly in the cool and casual category. With a design that speaks more to mid-century divers than motorsport watches, it’s simple, clean, and understated. The dial is constructed of an inner surface and an outer chapter ring that is on the same plane. Seen here in Vespa white, the surface is a subtle warm white that is just the right hue. Any whiter and it could have been cold or austere, any darker and it would have become beige and faux-tropical.

The hour index consists of applied markers with a slender, slightly tapered petal shape and lume fill. To denote 12 and the top of the watch (a notably important designation on a rotating watch) there are two markers. The outer chapter ring then features an index of small lines for the seconds/minutes. The De Rijke & Co logo sits just below 12 while “Amalfi Series No. 1S” sits above 6. And that’s it. No date, no numerals, just some lumed markers, and black dashes.

The hour and minute hands echo the design of the markers, with rounded tips and a gentle taper. They too feature substantial lume fill. The seconds hand is the only point of color or contrast being rendered fully in red. I feel like I could go either way on the red. On one hand, it looks good and it’s hard not to like a red seconds hand. On the other, it draws perhaps unneeded attention to the seconds, and had it been black or polished steel, I likely wouldn’t have felt something was missing.

Overall, the dial is quite successful in that it’s purposefully simple. Much like with a pilot’s watch, when in the act of driving one needs to be able to tell the time with a quick glance. Small numerals and fussy details aren’t needed and could potentially distract. That said, the design also succeeds on a basic aesthetic level, with every element being well-considered and proportioned.

Movement

Given the dimensions of the Amalfi 1S, a relatively thin automatic was required. De Rijke went with the Sellita SW300, which is a clone of the ETA 2894, and only 3.6mm thick. The SW300 features 25-jewels, 42-hours of power reserve, hacking seconds, and a frequency of 28,800 bph. Visible through the case back, the SW300 in the Amalfi features fairly basic decoration in the form of perlage and some cote de Geneve on the rotor. At this point Sellitas are about as common in the watches we see as ETAs, and they are considered trustworthy movements.

Straps

In order to accommodate the non-traditional lugs, De Rijke developed leather straps with a stud-mechanism for securing without spring bars. Essentially the leather feeds underneath the lug, then back over before passing through a sewn-in keeper, and then being fixed via a metal stud that pops through a hole in the leather. While not as easy or fast to manage as removing a spring bar, it’s tool-less and not that cumbersome either. My only concern is that after wearing them for some time and swapping them regularly, that the hole the stud goes through could stretch and become faulty, potentially resulting in the watch falling off the wrist.

In addition to securing the strap to the case, the design plays into the overall aesthetic of the watch more dramatically than most straps. And, I quite like it. Bringing to mind straps on luggage or hoods of old cars, it adds a rugged character and frames the watch on your wrist. While one could say they contrast with the otherwise minimal design, I found they add an appealing warmth that comes from a natural material like leather.

Another option, of course, are pass-through straps. The watch takes naturally to the look of a mil-strap, which is always a great option in the summer, but I did find that having material against the case back restricted the dial from rotating. This is the downside of the case back turning. Luckily, it wasn’t an issue with the leather straps.

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In Use and On The Wrist

Given that the Amalfi 1S has such a unique and distinctive feature (one that I could actually try out) it’s worth getting into how useful it actually is. While I didn’t get to drive it along an Italian coast, nor in a sports car (the Porsche in the photos is not mine, alas) a couple of hours on roads and highways around NYC in a car with sports-mode was possible. So I strapped the watch on upside down, cranked the crown over so 12 would be at 3, and drove.

My immediate takeaway was that with my left hand at 10 on the wheel, the dial wasn’t really pointed at me. That said, the act of flexing my wrist in such a way as to make the dial visible required far less motion than flipping my whole wrist over, nor did I have to let go of the wheel. If I held the wheel closer to 8, the dial was more visible all the time, though I don’t really drive like that. I also found that positioning the dial so that 12 was at 2 was more organic feeling/looking. As with most analog solutions to telling the time, of course this was entirely unnecessary in a modern car with a cell-phone powered digital display always in my vision, but in something older or more stripped-down, perhaps it would be more useful.

With that said, I did actually find a relatable non-automotive use-case in which turning 12 to 2 was very useful – typing. Sitting here even now, writing this review, I have the Amalfi strapped on and in my natural typing position, 12 is pointed towards the screen. While I never had an issue with telling the time in this position, with the watch oriented as such, checking the time requires a mere movement of my eyes.

I also found that in general having 12 at 1 was surprisingly appealing. My natural time-telling position when walking around isn’t to turn my arm fully parallel to the ground, rather at an angle. The watch compensates for that, allowing for a perfect alignment no matter what. And since it’s adjustable, anyone can find the angle that best suits them. Ultimately, it’s a design that allows for improved ergonomics.

And to that end, the Amalfi also wears very well. On my 7” wrist, the 38mm case fits ideally. The lug-to-lug is short and sort of a non-factor given how the straps attach, so you are left with a fairly perfect circle that is just a massive, clean dial looking up at you. The aesthetics of the watch lean casual and mid-century, making the watch look great with daily attire, and I loved how the extra bulk of leather around the lugs looked up against a late Fall jacket.

Pricing, Manufacturing, and Concluding Thoughts

I’ve yet to touch on the price of the Amalfi 1S as I believe it needs appropriate context. Coming in at 2,309 euros (about $2,790 USD at the time of writing), the Amalfi is not an inexpensive watch, nor is it outrageously priced. For people who play the “but you can get a watch with that movement for X” game, yes, it’s higher than many of its other direct-to-consumer competitors, but there are other factors to consider. First, is that much of the manufacturing and finishing takes place in the Netherlands and other EU countries.

The dial and case are made in the Netherlands using a combination of third-party and in-house manufacturing and finishing. The hands are made in Germany but finished in-house. The watches are fully assembled and tested in-house as well. This is not to forget the design, engineering, and prototyping of the watch and its unique mechanism, which also took place in-house. Heck, even the packaging is made under their roof. You get the picture.

While this might increase the price, the result is a watch that is far more hand-made than one would expect, and made in very small quantities. Whether or not you subscribe to exclusivity as a bonus is up to you, but for many, it’s a perk. This is exemplified by the fact that De Rijke & Co offer extensive bespoke options, for an additional cost, allowing for a surprising amount of personalization.

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Extensive dial modification
Left-side crown and unique dial
Color matched to owner’s vehicle

In the end, what you have with the De Rijke & Co Amalfi 1S is a sleeper watch, in the best sense possible. It’s on the smallish side, it’s understated, it hides a very cool mechanism in plain sight, it’s small production, and it features a lot of components that were made or finished in-house in the Netherlands. You’re not going to see another one on someone else’s wrist anytime soon, and if you do, you likely could strike up a conversation about it. And unlike with many complications or novel functions, which might only be used in a very rare circumstance, the ability to turn the dial of the watch actually can come in handy. Whether when driving, just walking down the street, or sitting at your desk, being able to find the angle that is just right for you is kind of great, and certainly a unique experience. De Rijke & Co.

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Zach is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor of Worn & Wound. Before diving headfirst into the world of watches, he spent his days as a product and graphic designer. Zach views watches as the perfect synergy of 2D and 3D design: the place where form, function, fashion and mechanical wonderment come together.
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