Introducing Henry London’s Chancery 41mm mesh bracelet wristwatch with a crimson red chronograph dial. The watch case is made of stainless steel and is completed with a double domed acrylic lens. The watch bracelet is made from stainless steel Milanese mesh. This Chancery model features the traditional hour, minute and second hands as well as a calendar window at 6 o’clock. The three sub-dial instruments each perform different chronograph functions: a 60 second stop watch dial at 6 o’clock, the 9 o’clock dial offers a 30 minute timer whilst the third indicates the time in 24 hour format.
It all sounds good doesn’t it and the current asking price of £60 (normally £150) sits very positively against the aesthetics in the marketing images.
Specifications are somewhat vague with Japanese Quartz quoted for the movement which could technically mean anything. The high double dome crystal feels very plastic to me and when tapped offers no ring at all so I suspect it is indeed pure plastic. This is a bit of a shame because elsewhere it looks and feels pretty decent and is one area where the margin could be squeezed to complete what is otherwise a pleasing offering for those who care about the visuals more than anything else. My main concern is damage which can happen very easily with a watch crystal and one small scratch can ruin the entire the experience, but I guess time will tell.
Some investigation showed that Henry London is owned by the Peers Hardy Group which also offers watches under the brands of Radley London, Cluse, Jigsaw, Kahuna, Tikkers and Disney (yes, Disney). These watches are very much in the budget range, but my experience of Kahuna and Radley London has been quite positive given the prices they are asking for their various models.
We are dealing with a budget watch here in the Chancery, of that there is little doubt, but it has something that many watches costing upwards of £2,000 do not.
Just look at it. It is a beautiful design and captures the essence of 1950’s watch elegance more than almost any other watch I have seen. When I say almost there are countless examples of watches trying to capture the 1960’s with very few jumping back a further 10 years-
Longines Conquest Heritage Mens 35mm – a classic 1950’s style watch at £810 with an automatic movement and a style all of its own.
Rado Watch HyperChrome Captain Cook – a beautiful watch, but at £1,830 it is an ask and it has a sense of modernity running through it.
Tissot Visodate – a brilliant watch and one that offers just enough classic styling to keep you enjoying it every single day. Still, it is not obviously vintage from more than a foot away.
These are just three examples of what is out there, but still the Chancery is obviously more 1950’s than any of them. More than this, every single facet works with everything else to produce this look which is noticeable, consistent and one that looks way more expensive than the asking price would suggest. This does not matter though because it is all about the design here and if you forget about the vague quartz movement, the dodgy crystal material and possible limited lifespan you are in for a treat.
The dial is beautifully coloured with a subtle change of tone running to the centre. Alongside the applied hour markers and the ’12’ at the top it all looks right to my eye. The three dials also add some interest thanks to two of them being dark and one applied, but there is a lot more to like here. The date window is well positioned and finished as it should be, there is nothing worse than a harshly cut out window, and the hands (they are lumed by the way) are the length they should be within a case of 41mm. Even the Henry London logo is perfectly sized and with the right font for a 1950’s design to top off what is the most 1950’s dial I have seen in a modern watch.
The sense of age continues with the mesh strap that looks almost plastic from the outside and a smaller than average crown that is flanked by the chronograph buttons, which I would personally like to see a little smaller. Overall, however, the design and consistency is of a level that may seem obvious if you are looking to build a 1950’s homage watch, but which also seems to be close to impossible for other brands to succeed at.
Henry London has taken the idea of a 1950’s homage and taken it to the extreme with no worries about what watch people will think. And the end result is surprisingly impressive and even more so considering the price.
Think of this as an occasional wear novelty and you will have something completely different to wear when the mood strikes you. Because of this I ended up liking the Chancery much more than I expected to.