Stewart Dawson Darkest Hour Watch Review - Oracle Time
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Stewart Dawson Darkest Hour Watch Review

Stewart Dawson Darkest Hour

There are a lot of names coming out of the woodwork these days, brands that were once defunct who are now returned with a vengeance. It’s nothing new to be honest – Blancpain being one of the more high-profile examples – but it does seem to be happening more often these days. It’s easy to see the appeal. A revived name brings a certain cache with it, a shorthand for the kind of watches a new brand wants to make. In the case of Stewart Dawson, that’s classically-inspired watches with a very distinct, ingrained Britishness. It’s a DNA that’s no clearer than in the Darkest Hour.

The Darkest Hour will easily appeal to a certain strata of patriotic watch-lover, the kind that tries to drop a Winston Churchill quote into everyday conversation. In fact, it’s inspired by the wartime Prime Minister, and not just in the name.

Stewart Dawson Darkest Hour

Design-wise, the Darkest Hour falls in step with the kind of oversized, retro pilots watches of the 1940s, with a few similarities to the likes of Zenith’s Type 20 and IWC’s Big Pilot. It doesn’t feel as big as many of the models it takes inspiration from – in fact the 42mm stainless steel case wears rather nicely – but it shares the same fluted crown, distinctive numerals and even a similar handset.

The similarities to other watches aren’t a bad thing; in fact, it works in the Darkest Hour’s favour. What better way to highlight accessibility and value than to make an entry-level alternative of an iconic design? And entry-level this is. The watch is priced at Euro 900 – under £800 – which is pretty impressive for a Swiss-made watch with a solid automatic movement.

Originality to one side, the look here is very nicely done. It comes in three dial colours – black, brown and blue – with a red and white chapter ring around the edge. The navy’s particularly charming, but they all suit the classical pilots look, complete with retro beige lumed indexes and colour-matched straps.

Stewart Dawson Darkest Hour

Those straps are worth talking about. Made by Visconti Milano – part of the same collection of brands as Stewart Dawson – they are pure Italian softness. They match the utilitarian look of the watch, but feel a world away. I’m tempted to get one for my old Hamilton field watch.

There are a couple of aspects to the Darkest Hour I’m not all that keen on. The first is the textured finish to the dial; it suits the type of watch, but it’s just not for me. The second is the hunter caseback, which flips open to reveal a Churchill quote on very shiny steel.

Stewart Dawson Darkest Hour

Churchill was, of course, a watch lover and preferred pocket watches – like his legendary Breguet turnip – to wristwear, so the hinged caseback suits the overall British theme. The random quote though is just a bit too much for me. I’d have much preferred an exhibition caseback underneath.

Like I said, the Darkest Hour will definitely appeal to anyone that longs for the glory days of blitz spirit, stiff upper lips and patriotism. It’s not an authentic archival throwback a la Vertex and Timore, but with its overtly British design, Swiss movement and Italian leather strap, it’s a well-done, incredibly well-priced timepiece.

Price & Specs:

Model: Stewart Dawson Darkest Hour
Ref: 1940.A.SS.DH01
Case/Dial: 42mm diameter x 13mm thickness, matt finish with Arabic numerals made of SuperLuminova C3 with a blue dial, double caseback with hinged dust cover with engraved random quotes by Sir Winston Churchill
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: Calibre ETA 2824-2 (SW 200), automatic, 25 jewels
Frequency: 28,800 vph (4 Hz)
Power Reserve: 38h
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Strap: Black Italian Cuoio leather
Price/Availability: €900 EUR (£792)

More details at Stewart Dawson.

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