Posted on February 17 2023
You only need five watches in life.
I suspect there are quite a few of you who have many more than that already, so bear with me. The idea of five watches meeting all of your timekeeping needs is the core ethos of Belfast-based Enoksen.
Company founder Hans Enoksen has coined the phrase five-a-life principle. It's a simple concept - a satisfying watch collection only needs five watches. And of course, Enoksen's mission is to create those five watches.
The Fly is the brand's pilot watch - one of the essential five. I managed to get my hands on the bronze variant, so let's take a closer look.
Enoksen Fly E03/G Bronze Black Swiss Edition
Enoksen Fly E03/G Bronze Watch Review
As I noted above, the five-a-life watch principle is central to Enoksen and it's worth taking a second to explain how it influences the brand's designs.
The brand begins with five basic watch types. A diver, an adventure or field watch, a chronograph, an aviator and a dress watch. The idea is that the five watches give you timepieces suitable for each area of your life. They stress that these watches should also be easy to buy and use.
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Enoksen sets some ground rules for how the business runs. These lofty goals include producing watches of excellent quality, partnering with amazing ambassadors and offering buyers world-class customer service.
That's a set of high standards.
In short, they aim to make all the watches you'll ever need and those watches will be of excellent quality and the process of buying and using an Enoksen watch will be straightforward. To help in that process, the company has opened a Belfast showroom.
At the showroom, customers are invited to build their own watch, giving the buyer a role in the watch's production - remember the watches are hand-assembled locally.
If you'd prefer, there's also an online configuration tool that allows you to customise your watch, a process similar to Undone and a handful of others.
So what does the Enoksen collection, with its emphasis on five watch types, look like?
Surprisingly good as it happens. Unsurprisingly, there's something here for everyone - assuming you're after affordable everyday watches.
There are a couple of dive watches, including a model with 1000M of water resistance. There's a panda-dial chronograph and a utilitarian field watch. The dress model is a colourful art deco-inspired piece and there's the aviation model I have to review (there's also a GMT model I'll lump in with the divers).
It's in that context that I unboxed the Fly pilot's watch. And what is my first impression?
It's a subtle piece that has understated branding and a very familiar aviation aesthetic. However, the bronze case and functional water resistance ensure that it does stand out among other affordable pilot's watches. It's definitely a watch that utilizes a successful template and then adds the brand's own unique touches.
Let's dig in and look at the details.
The Enoksen Fly Swiss Automatic Watch in Detail
Watch fans will be familiar with the basic design of the Enoksen Fly, particularly if aviation watches are your thing. You'll have already noted the similarity to German Flieger-style watches.
But this model has its own take on that look. It's more versatile than many aviation watches and doesn't recreate the vintage pilot's aesthetic in its entirety. With the watch in hand - all 72g of it - that becomes obvious.
One of the core tenets of traditional aviation watches was the use of oversized cases which were often paired with large onion-style crowns. Think of watches by Laco, Stowa and IWC. Modern 45mm Flieger watches are authentic to that history.
I'm glad to say that the Fly comes in at a modest 39mm, a sweet-spot I'm really beginning to favour. That means that this is a versatile and comfortable piece - before I look at anything else I know this watch will work for me.
Enokseon offers a number of dial and case variations, but I managed to get the most interesting case option, CUSN8 Bronze.
If you're not familiar with bronze as a case material then there are a couple of points to note, Patina being the obvious one. Bronze watches age.
But in a good way.
Bronze watches naturally develop an oxidized layer that protects the metal from corrosion. It’s the reason that bronze is used for ship's propellors. The watch displays a greenish pigment that gives each watch its own character as it ages.
For many watch fans, myself included, this personalisation is a real selling point.
The bronze case of the Enoksen Fly is straightforward, with curved lugs and a height of 12mm. With the regular-sized crown, the watch is very practical for daily wear but manages to not sacrifice the aviation vibe.
A second point to note with Bronze is that it can leave marks on your wrist. In a nice touch, the Fly's case back is steel - an acknowledgement that ageing Bronze can do this. The steel case back - engraved with the watch's unique number - greatly reduces the issue.
The case, with its clean lines, is paired with an equally simple dial. Maintaining the aviation watch styling, the dial features bold Arabic numerals and large sword hands. The dial is a Flieger Type A layout - a proven and popular design (Enoksen also does a Flieger Type B variant and a handsome Dirty Dozen homage).
There's a neat date window at 3 o'clock and no text on the dial.
Or is there?
If the lighting is just right you can see that there is dial text - a neat Enoksen logo where you'd expect to find it. On this black dial, the logo is also black and the same colouring rule applies to other models.
The logo is meant to be innocuous and not dominate the dial, prioritising legibility over branding.
I'm not normally a fan of sterile dials, but I understand the real-world application, particularly on military watches. But this quirky feature tricked me into thinking the dial was sterile when it wasn't. Surprisingly, that worked for me. It's not showy, but it's not unbranded either. I like that Enoksen has taken a traditional design, retained its core elements and still managed to include its own design features.
And it's those smaller and less obvious features that differentiate this piece from other affordable pilot watches.
What do I mean by that?
Take the crown for example. It screws down.
Because this helps maintain the watch's 200M water resistance. So yes, this is a pilot's watch, but by including 200M WR Enoksen has increased its practicality as an everyday watch. And get this, that's a constant across the Enoksen range. No matter the style of watch, each one is equipped with at least 200M WR. There's also a sapphire crystal on this model, another small touch that adds to the watch's appeal.
Along with the bronze case, there's one more key feature that differentiates this model from others in the Fly collection. The watch's full name - Enoksen Fly E03/G Bronze Black Swiss Edition - gives that away.
The watch may be designed and assembled in Northern Ireland, but the engine inside is Swiss-made. The watch is powered by a very reliable STP1-11 automatic movement, boasting a power reserve of 42hrs and a hacking function.
Finishing off the watch is a strap with a bronze, signed buckle. There are two straps supplied with the watch, a rubber tropic strap and a black leather option. I kept the tropic strap on the watch because I'm a fan of skin-diver watches and have a soft spot for the retro rubber look. But I was happy to see that the rubber strap had a quick-release feature and the additional strap came with a tool for fitting. Everything was presented in a tasteful brown leather pouch that strikes a nice balance between practicality and panache.
There's a lot more going on with the Enoksen Fly than is first obvious.
Yes, it boasts an uncommon bronze case, but there are other features that you only begin to notice when you take a closer look at the watch.
Despite being modelled on a traditional aviation watch design, it also adds 200M of water resistance and a screw-down crown, making it a very functional piece. There's also a well-renowned Swiss automatic movement - always a plus.
And in a unique touch, the logo is the same colour as the dial, placing the emphasis on legibility rather than brand promotion. Taken all together, this makes the Enoksen Fly an interesting watch and a definite contender for the Aviation position in your five-a-life watch collection.