Whilst I’ve not reviewed a James McCabe before, I have looked at a lot of their sister brands (under Dartmouth Brands) – such as Avi-8, Thomas Earnshaw, Fjord and Spinnaker. They’re all reasonably similar in what they offer: well-designed watches in the affordable price range, but each brand focuses their attention on a specific style.
James McCabe is a company that bases its marketing on Heritage and London. So here is some history to the James McCabe name. The McCabe company was founded in 1775 in London by James McCabe, who had emigrated to England from Ireland, where his father Patrick Mccabe was also a watchmaker. The firm of James McCabe continued in production through the late 18th century and well into the 19th century, eventually closing in 1879. It had been a successful concern, being continued after the founder by members of the Mccabe family, and apparently, the products were well-known for their variety and creativity of design. Throughout the life of this McCabe watch company, 50,000 watches, 7,000 clocks and 500 marine chronometers were manufactured. Now this company that we are looking today is just using the name of the old company and they are making good looking affordable timepieces. I wanted to take a look at one of these watches for a long time. Because they aren’t getting much of a positive response in the watch world because they are using that name in the branding. But now it looks like they overhauled their marketing strategy and are just making classic looking watches without the whole history story. Which I think is a move in the right direction.
The watch I chose to take a look today is the Heritage Automatic II Celtic Cross. It came in a pretty nicely made box. There was this cardboard outer box with some branding and inside was a wooden box in which you will find the Heritage watch, warranty card and instructions manual. Right out of the box I noticed how small it is. The watch in pictures looked a lot bigger than in real life. Oh and the favourite part about this watch that I really like is the domed crystal. I think every McCabe watch comes with domes crystal to give that vintage appearance.
The case is made from stainless steel. The diameter of the case is 40mm, the case thickness is 12,8mm, lug to lug tip is 44,8mm and the lug width is 20mm. So the watch wears pretty small, and even smaller than most of the 40mm watches because the lugs are very short and they curve down a lot too. The case of the Heritage is polished with no brushed surfaces. On the left side of the case, you will find a big James McCabe logo engraved. I really hate when companies do this. Because it destroys the look of the watch and no one is interested in saying to the whole world that it is James McCabe watch. The crown is rather small, but easy to grip and operate. The screw in case back has a see-through window. I could not find what crystal they used, but from sound and feel it seem that it is mineral crystal. On top of the case sits a domed mineral crystal which looks really cool, but sad that it isn’t sapphire. The water resistance is 5ATM (50m) which for a dress watch is plenty enough for light rain or handwash.
The dial is black with Celtic cross dark grey which you can see only when you turn the watch. When you look directly it is barely visible. I picked this dial from the other plain dials because it had something interesting on the dial, it isn’t just a regular black dial. The polished silver hour markers are applied. The 6, 9 and 12 are Roman numerals. The hour and minute hands are shaped in Breguet style and the second’s hand is just a regular stick hand. The hands are in polished silver colour. On 4:30 we have a date window. Overall I like the dial, it is simple and looks nice. The only things I would change is removing the JM letter on top of the dial because we have the logo on 3 o’clock already which looks decent. And also the date window could be black with white date numbers.
The movement inside this watch is Automatic Miyota 8215. It is a good workhorse. 21 jewels, 21,600 BPH, 40h power reserve. I have this movement in a couple of my watches and they have been really good. Now this one runs about +20 seconds a day, which isn’t that bad, but if you take it to a watchmaker, he can regulate it a bit, and it will go +10 seconds a day, which is the best this movement can do. The strap that came with the watch isn’t that good, it is just a genuine leather strap with crocodile texture on it. But it has something that I think every watch company need’s to include, and it is the quick release spring bars. The butterfly clasp was actually surprisingly good. It didn’t have that wobble you get with some cheap watches, it was pretty sturdy.
Overall the James Mc Cabe Heritage watch is a decent dress watch/everyday “beater” watch. It looks good, especially on some brown suede strap it looks just amazing. It has a reliable automatic movement. Altogether it is a good package, although the price I think is too high, but it is for you to decide.