Being a sceptic, I would say that no more than every now and then, a new watch project catches my interest enough for me to consider backing it. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but many projects don’t tick enough boxes for me to splash the cash. An even rarer event is for me to stumble over a new watch and fall in love after half a second.
In earlier reviews, I have talked about this sensation when I first discovered the S.A.R Rescue-Timer from Mühle Glashütte and the Fortis Spacematic GMT, sensations occurring once or twice every decade. Well, it has happened again… My jaw has dropped, my heart is beating twice as fast as normal and I even had to wake up my better half, in the middle of night, just to show her a picture of the watch.
The timepiece that’s brought me into this mood is the HMS Cornwall by Nardi, a brand based in Portsmouth in southern England. Britain has a rich naval history, something the HSM Cornwall is built upon, literally. From the decommissioned frigate with the same name, Nardi is using its steel to make the cases for their first watch. Presented as a combat diver, it’s cool knowing it’s built of materials having participated in real combats. Being a pacifist, I’m not a huge fan of combats, but as a watch project, I find it very interesting.
The refined HY-80 steel from the frigate is transformed into a watch that measures 40mm across, 55mm from lug to lug and 13,5mm from top to bottom. The length from lug to lug is a bit longer than usually seen on a 40mm case but choosing to go shorter I think would ruin the appearance. Also, they’re designed to wrap nicely around the wrist, feeling like the sweetspot of 50mm.
The HMS Cornwall will be powered by a Sellita SW200-1, it will get a 60-click, unidirectional bezel, screw-down crown, water resistance of 200 meters, double domed, sapphire crystal with AR-coating on both sides, closed caseback with the inscription “Renascitur, sed Recordatus” (translates from latin as Renewed, yet Remembered) and it will be presented in three different variants; The Launch Edition, The Bund Supersport and The Founders Edition. The differences will be seen in the details on the bezel insert, the rehaut, indexes and engravings.
The specs are all good, as you would expect from a proper diver, but I must push all of that aside and focus on the looks, which for me is as stunning as it gets. Presented as a combat diver, I’d like to add avant-garde, timeless, bold and unique. The aggressive lugs, the tall bezel on top of a beautifully shaped case, the matt, black dial with subtle, but crisp details and colors are some of the features feeling like a soft punch in the solar plexus, in a good way. All the variants look gorgeous, but the stealthy looks of the Bund Supersport is mesmerizing. The contrasts between the polished and brushed parts, the matt dial with soft, white indexes, the turquoise pip and inner ring of the bezel and the general focus on delicate details is nothing but brilliant. From October 19th, this autumn, the HMS Cornwall will be seen at Kickstarter and the price will be approximately £450 for the early birds, a more than fair price for a gem made of solid, historical material and powered by a Swiss automatic movement. After the Kickstarter session expires, the price will be around £900.
So, to put the final words on this preview of the HMS Cornwall, this review, or preview, is based on love at first sight, images, press-information and conversations with the creator of Nardi Watches, Mark Rogers. A hands-on review will be published later this summer or early autumn. Meanwhile, don’t be surprised, or worried, if you stumble across a listing of a kidney on eBay. It’s mine and I’m doing my part to see this project getting funded.