A Week on the Wrist – Arcturus LC-1

Arcturus LC-1

We first featured this art-deco themed watch back in February and we later interviewed the brand’s founder Alexander Loh. Now the Arcturus LC-1 has reached its backers – including our own editor – how does it hold up?

A Week on the Wrist – Arcturus LC-1

I backed the Arcturus LC-1 within seconds of the Kickstarter campaign going live. Because Apple Pay took two attempts I ended up being the fifth backer, which is pretty good going for a watch that ended up with 142 backers and which raised more than double its target. I’ve had it for over a week now and I thought it would be a good time to share my first impressions.

Presentation

The watch is presented in a  beautiful piano-gloss wooden box. I generally don’t attribute much value to boxes, as they end up in a drawer, and I usually award extra marks for watches that come in practical cases or watch rolls. In this instance, I think the box actually adds to the watch. A formal, dress watch deserves a high-level of presentation and this one is no exception.

Case

The Arcturus LC-1 has a cushion case that strikes just the right balance between a square watch and a round one. The sides are deeply ribbed in a style that reminds me of Richard Mille (a point on which commenters on my preview strongly disagreed!). The lugs are short, making the large case fit smaller wrists comfortably (mine is a fairly round 7.5 inches if you need a comparison). The screw-down crown reminds me of Audemars Piguet, being a hexagonal screw-in design signed with an “A”. Frustratingly, the crown does not sit centrally on the case – it is actually a little closer to the case back than the crystal, which I think is a shame, but not a deal breaker.

I found the case rather deep for a dress watch. It’s only 14mm but has stark, vertical sides so unlike, say, a Rolex Submariner (which has a bezel and a case-back to break up the lines giving the illusion that the thinner central section is all there is to the watch) the entire watch case measures 14mm all the way around. This is probably the thinnest the movement would allow.

The front of the case has nice textured sections in the four corners, and the case-back has a display window that shows off the high-beat Miyota automatic movement. In a change from the original design, the Helix bridge motif has been moved from printing on the rear crystal to an etching on the rotor. I think it vastly improves the look of the watch but did wish it went one step further with a skeletonised rotor design, though this would probably have harmed the self-winding capabilities.

The case is finished in a “bronze” PVD coating. It’s less flashy (and a lot cheaper) than yellow gold plating and – to my eyes – a nicer shade than the more common rose gold. If I have to be picky – and this is clutching at straws – the enamelled part on the back of the watch with the watch name and limited edition number could have been a touch deeper.

Dial and Hands

The dial is where the watch really comes into its own. It’s a multi-layered sandwich dial that has a stunning level of depth. At the base is a layer of luminescent material. The glow was too dim and too short-lived even for me to successfully photograph it.  Although lume is not at all necessary in a dress watch, if it is there I expect it to work and I was a little disappointed. In the centre of the watch, there is an area of mother of pearl (described by some as resembling a skull wearing a hat!). It is blue or green depending on the angle the light hits the watch and it makes it look really pretty and far more expensive! The dial is finished off with a cut-out layer of gold-coloured metal. It’s a beautiful watch and looks even better in real life than in photographs.

The hands are slender and functional and complement the busy dial beautifully in their simplicity. As well as hours, minutes and central seconds there is a 24-hour dial at the bottom of the dial and a power-reserve indicator at the top. The 12 O’clock date position is a nice unique touch, as is the translucent nature of the needle indicating the power-reserve which means the date is legible at all times. It divides opinion, but I think this is one of the most beautiful watches I’ve seen at any price point and it has certainly proven a talking-point.

Strap and Buckle

The Kickstarter campaign backers actually get two buckles. The watch arrives on a traditional “tang” buckle but a deployant buckle is also included. I switched to the deployant as I think it preserves the strap for longer and is more like a bracelet – which is how I usually prefer to wear my watches. The brand’s name is laser-etched into both buckles, which are nothing spectacular, but perfectly serviceable.

Unfortunately the second Kickstarter stretch goal was not reached – it would have seen the watches delivered with an alligator strap. The supplied leather strap is high-quality and just the right balance between soft and stiff, so I will be keeping it for now. A lot of Kickstarter watches cut costs with cheap, cardboard straps but I am glad to report this is not the case here.

What I Like

  • The watch looks stunning – really stunning – and looks like it is worth every penny it cost(and more).
  • As well as being pretty it is functional. The 24-hour dial, date and power-reserve are all genuinely useful to me in a daily wearer.
  • It is unique. You’re unlikely to ever bump into anyone else wearing anything even remotely similar – and if you do it would make a great talking point!

What I Don’t Like

  • The case feels a little thick for a dress watch
  • The enamelled writing on the back of the watch could have been engraved a little deeper
  • The lume – while not really necessary in a formal watch – is neither bright nor long-lasting

Arcturus LC-1 – The WRUK Verdict

I had to pick some negative points, as is the convention here at WRUK but they are really minor niggles and I wold wholeheartedly recommend the Arcturus LC-1 to anyone looking for a watch that has the “wow” factor. It’s like nothing else – in a good way – and even though it is more expensive than the sum of its parts, I think it is worth the premium. Arcturus’s next project is a similarly-styled dive watch and I intend to be at the front of the queue when it preorders are launched!

Buy an Arcturus LC-1

Now that the Kickstarter campaign is over, the remaining Arcturus watches will no doubt be sold through the Arcturus website or resellers like the Microbrand Watch Store. You may strike lucky and find an Arcturus LC-1 on eBay but they will be few and far between (and probably very, very expensive!). I’d recommend signing up to the brand’s mailing list if you want one, so you hear about any offers as soon as possible.

Author: Mike Richmond

Usually found skulking around eBay or the International Watch League forum, Mike writes for a living and spends what little money he makes building up his collection of timepieces.

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