This week, WRUK takes a look at a new model from an Irish brand: The Solas Starlight is thin dress watch with an aventurine dial.
Solas Starlight Review
Ireland has hardly been a hotbed of watch releases in recent years, so I was pleased to be offered the loan of the review sample of this watch, which was designed in the Emerald Isle.
The Solas Starlight follows a tried-and-tested case design, which should make it look good in the usual dress-watch settings. A dress watch generally is intended to blend in and slip under a shirt-cuff rather than be an ostentatious display in its own regard. To that end, the case is 38mm, but as with all watches without bezels, it wears bigger. It also hits that crucial sub-10mm thickness, measuring at just 9.8mm including the sapphire crystals on both sides. Unless you wear elasticated cuffs this should wear just fine with your business attire!
The movement is a fully-decorated Chinese-made Hangzhou 5000A. This allows it to offer 28,800bph, 42 hours power reserve and -20/+20 seconds per day accuracy while keeping costs low. The common Japanese and Swiss choices lack the seconds sub-dial and micro-rotor of this movement. Indeed the micro-rotor is one of this watch’s unique selling points and I think it looks great.
The crown is signed and of just the right dimensions for my taste: it’s easy to grip and does not stand too far proud of the case.
Dial and Hands
The dial is the biggest feature of the Solas Starlight. Made from aventurine, it sparkles in the sunlight in a quite amazing way. I made a short video to show the effect (I apologise for the rather large thumbprint I left on the watch face!)
The applied dial-markers are all straight and well-polished. The surround of the date window will be removed in the production models (a render of the final design is shown below).
The applied Solas logo is well made but I couldn’t help but feel that the choice of font was a little too “playful” for a dress watch.
The pointed hands are easy to read, and I like the subdial for seconds – albeit I found the second hand was a bit thicker than I would have liked. I felt that it moved the centre of gravity of the dial to a but too much. Overall – dial-aside – the Solas Starlight has a conservative look, which means that the sparkling does not overwhelm and already-busy watch.
Strap and Buckle
The Irish-made Horween leather strap fastens with a signed, foldover deployant clasp. It’s easy to adjust and feels secure when fastened shut thanks to a double-push button release mechanism.
The unbacked 20mm leather strap feels suitably soft and pliable, and I liked the contrasting blue stitching at either end. A quick-release function is provided, and this is always welcome.
Solas Starlight – Video Review
What I Liked
- The watch is the right size for a dress watch; the makers were not tempted to make it too big
- The aventurine dial sparkles in the sunlight and looks amazing
- The strap is excellent: soft, pliable and matches the watch well.
What I Didn’t Like
- For some, the design will be just too conservative: apart from the dial, there are plenty of watches that share the same design language.
- The logo might put some potential buyers off. I felt it made the watch feel less prestigious than it should. Solas has listened and alternative typefaces and spacings are being investigated.
- The second hand is quite thick and unbalances the dial.
Solas Starlight – The WRUK Verdict
Overall, I was ambivalent about the Solas Starlight. On the one hand, the dial material is great and I love looking at the movement. The strap and size makes it comfortable to wear. On the other hand, the price is relatively high compared to some similar-looking competitors (albeit often thicker or featuring lesser movements) and the choice of logo font and relatively large second-hand detract from the design in my opinion.
It comes down to personal preference: If you like the way this watch looks you can rest assured that it is worth the money. I’d think about buying one for the micro-rotor movement alone. Despite some minor flaws, in my opinion, this is the best watch that I have seen from an Irish brand.
Buy a Solas Starlight
The Solas Starlight is launching on Kickstarter soon. Prices will range from €349 for sár-luathphraghas (super early bird) to €399 for the standard KS backing level. Sign up to find out more at Solas’s website https://solaswatches.com/.
The Kickstarter preview pages is at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/solaswatches/solas-starlight-an-irish-affordable-micro-rotor-watch