anOrdain Model 1 Payne’s Grey Fumé: 50 Shades Of Grey Never Looked So Tempting
by Martin Green
Today nobody needs a mechanical watch. Despite having been obsolete for decades, our desire for mechanical watches still fuels a billion-euro industry.
It is because mechanical watches are objects of beauty that are the closest we can get to defying time. Against this backdrop, the prestige brands, often with a century or more of history behind them, are the bedrock.
But bedrock alone is not enough for an industry to thrive. For that, it also needs newer, younger brands spicing things up, especially those offering a more obtainable entry point for a larger group of enthusiasts. anOrdain is such a brand.
The challenge of simplicity
As the name may already give away, anOrdain is not your average watch company. Located in Glasgow, Scotland, its name derives from a remote loch deep in the Scottish Highlands. There, Lewis Heath, a trained architect, first got the idea of creating a modern brand honoring traditional crafts.
Heath’s first focus was enamel, and in 2015 when the company was founded, a typographer and enameler joined him. Quite an unusual team to start a watch brand with, but anOrdain is also not an ordinary company. They spent three years turning dreams into reality by perfecting Model 1, which would become the boutique brand’s first timepiece. It quickly sold out after launch.
Things moved along briskly after that as the brand carved out a niche in the market with its charming timepieces that give a modern Scottish flair to ancient crafts and offer tremendous value for money.
anOrdain has also amassed quite a following. When you look at the Model 1 Payne’s Grey Fumé, which has been nominated in the Challenge category of the 2021 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, you understand why. Rarely have 38 millimeters of stainless steel offered so much charm.
This watch’s main attraction is, without a doubt, the dial. Here you see why starting a watch company with a typographer and enameler was a brilliant move. The dial consists of a silver disk that is slightly domed. Its surface is hand-treated to give it a unique, grainy texture. As the dial is slightly domed, the thickness of the enamel layers vary, creating the incredibly desirable and attractive fumé effect, a unique feature in enamel dials.
The name of this color – Payne’s Grey – is an homage to English painter and etcher William Payne, who created this special hue by combining indigo, raw sienna, and crimson lake. Grey always sounds a bit boring to me, but on this enamel dial it really comes to life. It also does something to the numerals, which are charming by themselves, inspired as they are by old cartographic maps of the Highlands, and they seemed to float over the dial because of how the enamel is made.
Supporting parts provide a sense of harmony
When such a stunning dial stands in the spotlight, it is easy to forget the supporting parts. And anOrdain has also made an effort to make these equally memorable. The uniquely designed hands get their “straw” color by being manually tempered, so they match perfectly with the gold color of the numerals. What I especially like about them is how their shapes interact when the hands overlap, which adds a playful effect that evokes even more appreciation.
The shape of the case is not spectacular, yet it is very refined for a timepiece at this price level. The fact that I call it “not spectacular” might seem like I am not doing it justice, but by making it a tad understated anOrdain ensures that it doesn’t rival the dial for attention.
One of the best things about the case is its proportions, which create a sense of harmony throughout the watch. Character is added by the shape of the lugs and the very slight crown guard. It gives the anOrdain an appearance of robust elegance. Because of this, the wearing comfort is also superb.
A workhorse and fertile soil
Inside the case, I find an old favorite of mine: ETA Caliber 2824-2. It might not be the prettiest or slimmest caliber around, but it is the definition of a Swiss workhorse movement. And here it has been coated a gold color to match the hands and numerals.
When I initially started collecting, I had my fair share of watches powered by this movement, and they simply always did what they were supposed to do with a great degree of accuracy. An added benefit is that when they need service, it can still be done at a decent cost, something you cannot say for many modern movements (or watches).
Because of all these qualities, the Model 1 in Payne’s Grey Fumé feels right at home in the Challenge category of the GPHG. In my opinion, it even has a good chance of winning. But regardless of that, the watches of anOrdain in general, and the Model 1 in Payne’s Grey Fumé in particular, are a welcome addition to the world of watches. They show that something special can be had even at a relatively modest price, adding a layer of fertile soil to the bedrock of watchmaking.
For more information, please visit www.anordain.com/products/paynes-grey-fume.
Quick Facts anOrdain Model 1 Payne’s Grey Fumé
Case: 38 x 11 mm, stainless steel
Dial: high-fire gradient enamel on a hand-hammered silver disk with pad-printed markings
Movement: automatic ETA Caliber 2824-2, 42-hour power reserve, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Price: 2,350 Swiss francs
Remark: 5-year warranty