[VIDEO] Hands-On: the Amida Digitrend

Here’s the thing about wearing the Amida Digitrend: you can’t take a traditional wrist shot with it. It’s not an insignificant point in 2024, when the watch industry effectively lives on Instagram, and the currency through which influence is thrust upon brands, collectors, and all of the other personalities who have risen to prominence in recent years is the wrist shot. We expect them when our friends pick up a new piece for their collection, and it’s the first thing we ask for when a new watch is announced with a series of renders depicting the watch in some altered state. So can a watch find success with the enthusiast crowd if it’s virtually impossible to take a traditional wrist shot?

Amida deserves a lot of credit, I think, for rolling the dice and finding out in real time. Their new watch, the Digitrend, is one of the most interesting and quietly daring new watches to hit the market in the last few years. It takes a design that’s fifty years old and revives it so successfully that it forces you to wonder what’s happened to the industry in the intervening decades. How did we go from the strange and clever problem solving of the Digitrend to a nearly endless stream of Black Dialed Divers based on the same rudimentary outline? 

The answer to that question is far outside the scope of this review, but it’s worth reporting that we may indeed be nearing an end to the watch market being saturated with straightforward vintage inspired sports watches. This is a development worth celebrating even if more outside the box designs aren’t your cup of tea. The fact that we’re seeing more and more watches like the Digitrend aimed at the affordable enthusiast market is a sign that a class of collector that entered the hobby in the 2010s is maturing, embracing curiosity, and moving toward designs and brands that reflect a more unique outlook on watchmaking. Of course, there are plenty of brand new collectors entering the market as we speak, and they’re finding an embarrassment of riches when it comes to creative watchmaking on a (relative) budget. 


[VIDEO] Hands-On: the Amida Digitrend

Stainless steel
Soprod Newton P092
Water Resistance
50 meters
39.6 x 39mm
Lug Width

Amida’s Digitrend is something of a different animal than many of the other watches that spring to mind when we think of the new crop of interesting, affordable indies that are working in a truly adventurous register. Unlike Toledano & Chan, SpaceOne, and Holthinrichs, Amida is a heritage brand that is effectively being relaunched with the Digitrend. The design is nearly 50 years old, proof, if you needed it, that these things tend to be cyclical, and that straightforward divers and other sports watches aren’t the only fodder for successful vintage reissues. 

If you missed our initial coverage of the Digitrend, here’s a brief primer on what we’re dealing with. The Digitrend has what’s come to be known as a “driver’s watch” display, with the time viewed through an aperture on what we’d normally think of as the “bottom” of the case. The idea here is that, with a hand on the steering wheel, the time display will be more easily viewable than in a watch with a dial where the dial is, you know, supposed to be. 

In all other situations, checking the time requires an extra turn of the wrist that you frankly become accustomed to very quickly. Legibility is good given the narrow aperture. The total surface area used to display the time here is significantly less than what you’d experience on a traditional watch, so it’s a fairly major accomplishment that Amida is able to come up with a solution that doesn’t put an undue sacrifice on readability. 

Time is read digitally, via a pair of rotating discs, one for hours and one for minutes, that lay flat and in line with the movement. The time readout from the discs is effectively projected forward by a prism, reflecting the current time into the display at the bottom of the case. It’s a simple and low tech solution to display the time, and one of my favorite things about the watch is that the ingenuity present here hasn’t lost any of its charm in the last 50 years. 

The movement is a Soprod Newton P092, with a jumping hour module added that is Amida’s own creation. In the realm of affordable jump hours that kind of look like spaceships, the easy comparison here is to the debut release from SpaceOne. That watch, with a time display in a more traditional place but within a case that’s anything but, might be a tad easier to read at the end of the day, but both are successful in developing interesting ways to execute on the uncommon jump hour complication. It’s the kind of thing that you don’t really think would be quite as appealing as it is until you start actually interacting with the movement. 

The other thing I love about the Digitrend is the ergonomic stainless steel case. The measurements, by the numbers, are a little deceiving. It’s about 39mm x 39mm, and at its thickest point the case measures nearly 16mm tall. But there’s a pronounced slope as the case angles down, where it measures just 6mm tall at the narrowest point. The result is something that’s actually rather sleek on the wrist and very easy to wear. My sample included an Alcantara strap that matched the vibe of the watch and was quite comfortable. It’s also available on a matching steel bracelet. 

Just about every individual aspect of this watch is appealing. It’s a somewhat obscure retro throwback, it has a genuinely unusual display, an inventive and clever movement, and it can hold court with other creative, affordable indie releases that challenge what a “micro-brand” really is in 2024. But I keep coming back to the wrist shot. This watch simply doesn’t photograph like any other watch on the market, save the very few watches with similar “driver” style displays, all similarly niche in their appeal. I wonder how much traction a watch like the Digitrend can get in the current watch climate where social media remains incredibly important to spreading the word. This is a watch that you really have to wear on your wrist (for a while) to fully understand. 

But that’s why we’re here. It seems to me that watches like the Amida Digitrend are the watches our website exists to champion. Unusual watches that can’t be summarized in a quick-hitting Instagram caption, or require a base level of knowledge to really wrap your arms around. As we’ve pointed out many times in recent months, there’s never been a more exciting time to be interested in off-beat, design-forward, affordable watches, and the Amida Digitrend is a great example of what’s out there for an adventurous watch lover. 

With a retail price CHF 2,900, some in the community are grumbling that it’s overpriced, particularly when you can find original vintage examples for under $1,000. The new one, of course, actually has a more complicated movement design that Amida created on their own, which is surely a contributing factor to the final cost. But I take the point of view of the collector CB, who Griffin Bartsch recently interviewed, in that buying into a brand like this is a form of patronage. I’d love to see what a modern incarnation of the Amida brand is able to accomplish in a third or fourth generation product, and in order for them to get to that point, they’ve got to get past the first gen watch. Imagining what the future holds for Amida, and other brands like them, is a big part of why the watch industry is so fun and full of excitement right now, and I hope they’ll continue to have the opportunity to surprise us for years to come.  Amida

Images from this post:
Related Reviews
Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.