Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean review! This weekend, I’m taking a look at the Saxodate from Nostal.
The Saxodate is Nostal’s debut effort – is it any good? Let’s find out.
Nostal – the Brand
Nostal is an Indonesian brand, founded just last year in 2018. According to the brand, “Nostal is crafted to remind us more than just time. Nostal is crafted to commemorate spirits of the past.” Elaborating on their debut model, Nostal states that the Saxodate ” is the embodiment of Indonesian pioneers and builders, who bring progress while upholding traditions, values, and identity.”
To my knowledge, there aren’t exactly many Indonesian microbrands, so when one popped up on my radar my interest was piqued. I first knew of the team behind Nostal when they posted initial photos of the Saxodate on Facebook watch groups. Whilst I felt that the design was interesting, I reflected to the team that I personally felt that the MSRP was too high – and I wasn’t alone in that regard. I’m happy to report that after listening to the initial feedback, Nostal have decided to lower the price of the Saxodate by over 20%! This indicates to me that the team behind Nostal is one that pays attention to the opinions of the watch community, and more importantly, are willing to implement changes if necessary – an aspect some Swiss brands could learn from.
Nostal Saxodate – Build Quality
Despite the Saxodate being a maiden effort, I have to say that it is pretty well built!
Firstly, the Saxodate utilises a single-domed sapphire crystal with an internal AR coating applied on the underside. As aforementioned numerous times in my previous reviews, I’m a huge advocate of sapphire crystal due to their inherent scratch-resisting properties. Personally, I always look for sapphire crystal in my modern watches as it adds greatly to the durability of the watch. In addition, the internal AR coating on the underside of the watch prevents unwanted reflections from occurring. Elsewhere, the WR rating for the Saxodate is stated as 100M, perfect for an everyday watch. You don’t have to worry about being caught in the rain with the Saxodate on the wrist, though it probably still shouldn’t be worn in the pool/sea.
The Nostal is powered by the ubiquitous Seiko NH35 movement, a movement that I have covered numerous times on this website previously. Some quick specs: the movement beats at 21600 vibrations per hour, has 42 hours of power reserve, contains 24 jewels, and is hacking. I’m a fan of the Seiko NH35 movement, and greatly prefer it to the Miyota 8 series movement (which is the alternative movement commonly seen at this price point). This is due to the fact that unlike the NH35, the Miyota 8 series movements are non-hacking, suffer from a stuttering second hand (some models), and in my own experience with the Miyota movements, are also more prone to accuracy problems. Given the workhorse reputation of the Seiko NH35 (I have multiple NH35 watches and none have given me any problems), I think it is the perfect affordable movement for an everyday robust watch like the Saxodate. However, the movement is undecorated and unsigned here, which I find a pity.
The brushed metal bracelet that comes standard on the Saxodate is pretty solid as well, which is a nice surprise. Usually, the bracelets that come on more affordable watches tend to feel hollow and have a “rattly” feel to them – for example, the bracelet on the Seiko SKX007. I’m glad that isn’t the case here! The bracelet on the Saxodate is sturdily built, and boasts a reassuring heft. The butterfly clasp possesses a satisfying click as well when fastened. In addition, the bracelet tapers significantly – another vintage-inspired aesthetic. This is definitely one of the better bracelet I’ve seen in the sub-S$500 price point.
The Saxodate utilises Swiss Superluminova C3 lume on both its hands and indices, resulting in decently strong brightness. It’s definitely pales in comparison to the lume found on dive watches, but for an everyday watch, the lume should be more than sufficient.
Overall, the build quality of the Nostal Saxodate is quite impressive for its ~S$400 price point. It ticks a lot of boxes – sapphire crystal, a workhorse Seiko NH35 movement, a sturdy bracelet, and Swiss Superluminova C3 lume to boot. That’s a lot of watch for the asking price!
Nostal Saxodate – Design
Nostal states that they took “design cues from 1970’s where it was a time for Indonesia’s advancements” when developing the Saxodate, and it shows.
The dial of the Saxodate is fairly simple, much in line with the clean design cues of vintage timepieces from the 1970s. By far, the most interesting element of the dial is the rice-shaped indices. According to Nostal, the rice-shaped indices pays homage to Indonesia’s agrarian culture, which I found to be a really nice touch. In addition, the logo of the brand is applied at 12 o’clock. This, combined with the aforementioned applied rice-shaped indices, adds an element of depth to the otherwise flat dial. Lastly, a blue second hand on this Brilliant White variant adds a pop of colour to the watch, lending it a modern touch. Unfortunately, the blue second hand looks to be electroplated, and as such lacks the depth that a heat-blued hand would have possessed. There’s also a date window at 3 o’clock, which in my opinion could have been incorporated into the dial better. I would have preferred it to come with a “frame” for the date window – currently, the date window lacks depth and looks like a cheap cut-out, which is a pity.
Elsewhere, the Saxodate pays further homage to watch designs of the 1970s by adopting one of the most popular case designs of that era – the cushion case. It’s an aesthetic that one rarely see in modern watches today, save for perhaps some select Seiko models. In my opinion, a cushion case is a love-hate affair – aficionados of vintage timepieces love it, whilst others tend to find the case design too old fashioned. Personally, I like and collect vintage watches, and thus the cushion case of the Saxodate is a hit with me. Furthermore, if SIHH 2019 is any indication, vintage styling seems to be making a comeback!
Despite the Saxodate’s affordable price tag, Nostal still manages to feature alternating finishing techniques on the watch. The case is mostly circular brushed, with a sleek polished line running through the bevelled edges. This alternating finishing extends to the bracelet as well, where the middle links are polished while the outer links are brushed. It’s great to see Nostal paying attention to finishing techniques here – it signifies an attention to detail paid by the brand.
The screw-down crown of the Saxodate is nicely signed, which is not always the case for watches in this price point. It’s well-sized as well, which makes hand-winding the watch an ease. In addition, I really like the aesthetics of the domed crystal – it is visually reminiscent of the domed acrylic crystals commonly found on watches from the 70s.
On the wrist, the Saxodate wears larger than its 42mm case size suggests on paper, mostly due to its cushion case. Unfortunately, this is my biggest issue with the Saxodate. For a vintage-inspired watch, I expected the Saxodate to wear much smaller than it currently does. To put this into context, the Saxodate wears similar to the Gruppo Gamma Vanguard that I recently reviewed – the Vanguard is 44mm wide in diameter! If you have a smaller wrist, this might be an issue.
Shootout: Nostal Saxodate vs Seiko Recraft Automatic SRPC11J1
Both the Nostal Saxodate and the Seiko Recraft SRPC11J1 features cushion shaped cases, with the Recraft in particular being inspired by the Seiko Bellmatics of the 1970s. Since both watches exist at the same ~S$400 price point, I thought it would be a natural comparison to pit both these vintage-inspired watches together!
In terms of build quality, it is undeniable that the Nostal Saxodate has the upper hand. Firstly, the Saxodate utilizes a sapphire crystal with AR coating, whereas the Recraft uses Seiko’s Hardlex crystal which is much less scratch resistant. In addition, the bracelet on the Saxodate feels sturdier than the one found on the Recraft. From a movement standpoint, both watches are evenly matched with the Recraft being powered by the Seiko 4R36 movement whilst the Saxodate uses the near identical Seiko NH35. Overall, the build quality of the Saxodate trumps that of the Seiko Recraft, though you do get an additional day indicator on the latter.
From an aesthetics standpoint, both watches share multiple similar design traits. Both watches share a cushion case, applied indices, and a contrasting second hand for added colour contrast. In terms of dimensions, both watches are large on the wrist – the Saxodate wears larger than its 42mm dimensions suggests, while the Recraft is 44mm wide. Which 1970s inspired design appeals more to you probably depends on your personal style preference. The Recraft has more of a sportier vibe to it, whilst the Saxodate is decidedly more dressy. That being said, I have to say that the finishing on the Saxodate is superior to that of the Recraft. Furthermore, the rice-shaped indices come across as more unique to me as well – I can’t think of another watch with similar indices. In the Recraft’s defence, the day-date window is much better incorporated on the watch.
Lastly, both watches are pretty similar to each other in terms of pricing. The Seiko Recraft can be had for S$380 from Gnomon Watches, whilst the Nostal Saxodate would cost $323 USD/ ~$435 SGD (after the promo code below). Whilst the Saxodate costs a tad more, I think the slight difference is more than warranted given the added advantages of sapphire crystal and a sturdier bracelet. As such, the Nostal Saxodate is the winner of this shootout for me – although given their affordable price tags, why not just get both?
Conclusion – so the Nostal Saxodate “shiok” or not?
For the most part, yes. I think the Nostal Saxodate presents a good value proposition for its specifications, and the vintage inspired design is intriguing. Unfortunately, it wears a tad larger than it probably should, but if you’re a fan of larger watches, or simply have a bigger wrist, the size of the Saxodate shouldn’t be an issue.
For those interested in the Saxodate, the promo code “WAHSOSHIOK” will grant you 10% off! After the promo code, the Saxodate can be had for just $323 USD/ ~$435 SGD. For that price, I believe that you’re getting a lot of watch for the money. In addition, there’s also a limited edition midnight blue variant of the Saxodate available, which I personally think is a stunner, so do check that out as well!
View the entire Saxodate collection here.
- 42mm Diameter Case
- 316L Solid Stainless Steel Case
- 316L Bracelet with Butterfly Clasp
- Single-Domed Sapphire Glass with AR coating
- C3 Luminous Dial and Hands
- Date Complications
- Japan Version Seiko NH35
- 41 Hours Power Reserve
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!