Handmade watches built to order in the United Kingdom must cost a fortune, right? Maybe not, as the WT Author No 1953 costs just £500.

WT Author No.1953 Black Review

Full disclosure: WT Author is currently taking pre-orders for their latest model, and they offered WRUK the opportunity to review a watch from one of their previous collections. I did not pay for the watch and have been allowed to keep it after the review.

There are not many British watch microbrands. There are plenty of watches that are designed here in the U.K. – but many of them proudly stamp Swiss Made on the dial. I’ve often wondered if there is a space in the market beneath Bremont for a watch designed and made in Britain. My Marine Chronometer Company Field Engineer is still in regular rotation, but that cost upwards of £2,000. WT Author offers a very enticing proposition: original designs, built to order in Britain at a price that is eminently affordable.

The first thing that struck me when the WT Author No.1953 arrived was the quality of the presentation. How do you make a £500 watch feel like a luxury product without eating into the specifications? The solution is superb: WT Author provides a fully recyclable cardboard box that looks and feels absolutely brilliant but doesn’t cost the earth (pun intended). There are a few other goodies in the box: a high-quality printed book and a signed map. It all adds to the personality of the watch. To top it off, the box is wrapped and sealed with an actual wax seal! I felt like I was opening a historic document, not unboxing a review watch.

Case and Crown

The finishing on the WT Author No.1953 is exceptional. Every angle, every facet has been polished or brushed to perfection. It looks and feels every bit as good as watches costing five times as much. I love the quirky design, which rather than a circle, reminds me of a flower. At 37.5mm, it is relatively small but wears bigger thank to the absence of a bezel or any other unnecessary adornment. The stepped case sides again add to the unique look of the watch, and I loved how the crown is picked out in red. It’s not for everyone – all of WT Author’s watches have a certain English eccentricity that some will find frivolous. For me, the No.1953 gets everything right, hitting the gap between dress watch and sports watch that I never thought needed to be filled until now.

Inside, it’s clear where some of the costs have been recouped. Rather than opt for a Swiss 2824 movement like other British brands,WT Author has fitted the more affordable – and arguable just as good – Miyota 9015. I love the 9-series Miyota – it is a robust and accurate movement – and it is partially visible through an open case back. The back is the only part of the case I was not too impressed with. I found that the large red A obscured the movement and the design is just too busy – I’d personally have preferred a Christopher-Ward style deep engraving or even a plain solid metal case-back stamped with the logo.

Dial and Hands

The dial of the WT Author No 1953 contains two concentric rings of textured black material that catches the light beautifully. The unique metallic hour markers are applied to the dial, and they are superbly machined, standing up even under a loupe. I found the printing was crisp and clear, and I like the way the hands are folded crisply down the centre, helping them sparkle in the sun. The red second hand matches the crown and adds a welcome splash of colour. 

The date function is welcome, but the white date wheel is perhaps a little jarring. The absence of lume may bother some potential buyers, but I am more than happy for it to be absent from a dressier watch like this.

Strap and bracelet

WT Author sent the watch with a black mesh and a black leather band. The thin mesh is the same design as many others I have seen, and I am not a fan. They look and feel cheap to me. I wore the watch on the (optional, at £43 extra) leather strap. Unusually, rather than stick the cheapest Aliexpress strap onto their watch – as many smaller brands seem to do –  WT Author has commissioned a British strap that is of exceptional quality. If you buy this watch, I highly recommend also adding a leather strap to your basket. The 20mm lug width seems a bit wide to me against the watch. The lugs sweep in nicely from the case, but I couldn’t help but think the watch would have looked a bit more balanced with a 19mm or 18mm lug width instead. 

The leather straps are handmade in Britain (not too far from me in Hebden Bridge) out of Italian vegetable-tanned leather. It’s thick (3mm) but supple and ranks amongst the finest leather bands I have worn. I really liked the way the A logo is stamped into it – it once again adds to this watch’s character and personality. If I had to pick a weak link in the chain, it would be the buckle. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t stand out like the rest of the package.

WT Author No 1953 – Video Review

What I Liked

  • The watch is hand-made in the UK and is absolutely unique
  • The fit and finish is absolutely beyond compare at this price point 
  • I have no idea how they make a watch this good and sell it for just £500

What I Didn’t Like

  • The case-back is a bit too busy for my taste
  • The watch may have looked a bit better balanced with an 18mm or 19mm strap
  • The OEM mesh bracelet is only average – I recommend upgrading to leather

WT Author No 1953 – the WRUK Verdict

I didn’t pay for this watch, but if I had, I would be even happier than I already am. If you handed me a WT Author No 1953 and told me it cost £2,000, I would not bat an eyelid. It is that good.  The finish is exemplary; the design is wonderful, eccentric, quintessentially English. I know that some will find it a bit too quirky for a dress watch, but I know what I like, and this is currently my favourite watch because I own absolutely nothing that is anything like it. I can feel the love that has gone into every aspect of the design and execution, from the box to the stamping on the strap. That it is hand-assembled in Britain adds to the charm, and that only 100 will ever be made makes it feel even more special. The WT Author No 1953 comes highly recommended: it is hands down the best watch I’ve reviewed so far in 2021.  

Buy a WT Author No 1953

WT Author sells direct to the public from their website: https://wtauthor.com/.

By Mike Richmond

Mike spends what little spare time he has writing for WRUK; and what little money he makes building up his collection of timepieces.

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