[VIDEO] First Impressions: the James Lamb Origin Series

Writing an “Owner’s Review” is tricky. Beyond a certain unavoidable self-indulgence that goes hand-in-hand with writing about your own “stuff,” there’s the matter of when to do it. I’ve always felt that watches, being, at least in theory, objects that can be heirlooms at best, or at least live in a collection for years, or decades, are not well served by a full throated review in the first weeks or months of owning it. The truth is, sometimes (but not always) a review sample comes our way that we might possess for longer than a watch that we’ve previously given the full “Owner’s Review”  treatment. My thinking here is: what’s the rush? If I bought the watch, wouldn’t it be more interesting to provide an analysis of it a year down the road, or more? As collectors, we all understand our impressions of a watch are shaped not in days, but in months, years, and beyond. 

That said, first impressions are important. And sometimes we’ll decide to purchase a watch, maybe under unusual circumstances, and have quite a lot to say about right from the jump. There should be a place for that type of analysis as well. Something that’s not quite as in-depth as the ideal long-term owner’s review, but captures that initial feeling you get during the honeymoon period with a new watch. 


I recently picked up a watch by James Lamb, a UK based watchmaker who has been on my radar for the last few years, since he founded his eponymous brand. Do you ever see a watch and find that it gradually tightens its grip on your larger watch consciousness? You’ll find yourself seeking out reviews, watching YouTube videos, setting WatchRecon alerts, and returning over and over to the brand’s Instagram page, looking for updates, until eventually the app itself picks up on your obsession, and begins feeding you images that only serve to firm up the neural connection that exists between you and your hypothetical new watch. So it was with James Lamb. 

Toward the end of last year, a watch in Lamb’s Origin Series (his debut collection) solidified itself as a potential next purchase, and I began doing the requisite math, determining what I might need to sell to make room, and so forth. Then I got Covid over the New Year’s holiday, and found myself feverish and kind of delirious on the couch for multiple days, watching Oppenheimer on a loop (that’s a whole other story…). This is a condition where it becomes easier, I think, to make a watch purchase. Rational thought goes out the window, and rational thought is the enemy of watch collecting. 

Knowing I could have one of these watches in a few days via Collective, Lamb’s American retail partner, helped solidify the decision. It would be a New Year’s, Covid treat to myself. Convincing yourself you deserve something is another watch collecting hack that most of us understand in some detail. Part of the rationale was that this past January marked five years of working in the watch industry, dating back to my very first freelance gigs. In my somewhat dehydrated condition, it was easy to convince myself to place an order. 

Overnight shipping is an amazing thing – it allows you to indulge your whims and not even have the time to question your decision making. Not that I’d have questioned my choice at all even if I’d have waited months. My first impression of the James Lamb reminded me of what I thought to myself when I saw Denis Villeneuve’s Dune for the first time a few years ago: this is the best looking movie I’ve ever seen. Is it hyperbole to say that the Lamb’s Origin Series watch is the most beautiful watch I’ve ever laid eyes on? I mean, of course it is, but we’re prone to hyperbole as watch enthusiasts. There’s no denying though that it has an aesthetic refinement that to this point has been uncommon in my collection. A fanciness, and a luster, that I’ve always been drawn toward but had never actually pulled the trigger on. 

It’s hard to undersell the impact of a silver case if all you’ve owned prior is steel and titanium. It has a brightness to it that you just don’t get with steel, and is maybe the inverse of titanium. The finishing is deceptively straightforward. No elaborate transitions from polished to brushed sides, but a remarkably even sheen that shows off the material perfectly. 

One thing I wasn’t expecting when it comes to the case was the sharpness and precision of it. They’re handmade, and when you think of that type of craftsmanship you expect more human angles. And this case has them, but the precision of the lugs is a real flex. They’re like little monoliths attached to a case with gentle curves. I love the dichotomy there, and it makes for a visual experience when wearing the watch that is really aesthetically pleasing. 

The dial, which is pad printed ceramic, is surrounded by enamel work meant to recall running water. It’s vibrant and summery, and I feel like I made the right decision and picked what I think is probably the most versatile of the four dial variants in the “Elements” collection within the Origin line. I admit: I don’t really know the right occasion for a watch like this. It’s, I guess, a dress watch, if you must place it in a category, but it’s also very playful, and I wouldn’t describe it as understated. When I’ve worn this watch out, there have been more occasions where I’ve received a compliment on it than times when I have not. That’s kind of hard to believe, and it’s a small sample size as I’ve only had the watch a short time, but it speaks both to how noticeable it is, and that it seems to put a smile on the faces of people who see it. In any case, as with all my watches, I’ve just been wearing it when moved to do so, regardless of the occasion, my attire, or any of those other considerations that govern watch decisions for some. 

On a recent Q&A episode of the Worn & Wound podcast, a question was posed about the elusive Honeymoon Period with a new watch, and how long those might last. I’m two months in with the James Lamb and still honeymooning pretty hard. It feels like a watch that meets a few different pieces of criteria that I’ve begun to identify in recent years as being important to me. First, it’s made in small batches with real craft behind it. As I get deeper into the hobby, seeing the hand of the maker in some fashion has become more important to me. Secondly, it’s just a gorgeous thing to look at. In the past I’ve written about how first and foremost I want a watch to be a beautiful object, and I think this piece is the most obvious example of that idea manifesting itself in my own personal collection. 

As a final thought, it’s worth noting that while in the process of writing this piece, Lamb introduced a new collection within the Origin Series, made in partnership with Lenox Jewelers, based in Connecticut. These new designs take the Origin Series case, still in silver but now in either 38.5mm or 40mm diameters, and pair them with dials inspired by the solstice and equinox, with dials representing spring, summer, autumn and winter. They’re every bit as appealing and intricate (perhaps even moreso) than the Elements dials, and I think they point to Lamb’s ability to continually refine both his craft and creative vision. I’m truly looking forward to seeing how his watchmaking continues to evolve, and am currently quite delighted to own one of the first 50 pieces to bear his name. James Lamb

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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.