Grayton Automatic Watches Are Affordable, Modern Watches
They got in touch with me mid-August and asked if I wanted to choose a model to review. I agreed, and 10 days later a brand-new steel on satin grey version arrived. This model – S.8-40-025 – is toned done aesthetically compared to some of the more colorful options to choose from. Under the hood is an automatic movement – the Seiko NH35A – which I’ve never encountered before. This model has a stainless steel bracelet.
Grayton is an online-only brand, sold exclusively on their website. Their price ranges from $180 to $280, with the model I have here priced at $255.
Grayton Automatic Watch Technical Specifications
- Model Number: S.8-40-025
- MSRP: $255
- Case Diameter: 40mm
- Alternate Models: Lots & lots
- Movement: Automatic, Seiko NH35A
- Complications: Date display
- Power Reserve: 41 hours
- Water Resistance: 100m / 300ft
- Crystal Material: Mineral
Grayton Watch Style & Design
The dial on the Grayton is youthful and eye catching. Big rounded Arabic numbers mark the even hours, with large circular markers on the odd hours (aside from 3 o’clock, which instead features the date display). The numbers are lined with a metallic orange strip that changes from orange to copper in different lighting.
Looking at the watch directly, the hands and markers appear black. Look at an angle, even a slight one, and the copper hands and markers really become eye-catching. It’s part of what makes the Grayton attractive (while also making it challenging to get a decent photo of).
The case is actually quite thick and is made more so by the domed mineral crystal. Sadly, the crystal lacks any kind of anti-reflective coating: you will see your face in the crystal when looking at the watch dead on. Glare is actually a bit of a problem when looking at the watch outside. Ironically, thanks to Super LumiNova on the hands and markers, nighttime visibility is excellent.
The three images shown here were provided by Grayton Watches.
I like the design language overall. As attractive as the S.8-40-025 model is, there are other case/color combinations that are even better looking. All exude a similar sense of youthfulness, though some of the other combinations are a bit more mature about it.
Lacking any depth aside from the slightly raised hour markers and the hands themselves, the dial is a simple (but not exactly minimal) affair. Printed minute markers run the entire diameter of the dial, and the brand and automatic designation are printed prominently in the center. It’s attractive, but it doesn’t feel particularly premium.
The boldness of the dial – and specifically, the hour markers – make it stand out. However, once you get close the dial feels somewhat flat, though other color combinations likely do a better job of masking this quality; on this version, the satin-grey face really helps the hour markers stand out and expose the lack of depth in the dial.
Looking at the design sketches lends an interesting perspective on the Grayton. Its also interesting to see that features they planned – such as engraving the Grayton “G” logo on the crown – didn’t make it to the production watch.
Youthful as it is, this Grayton is attractive and styled perfectly for how I intend to wear it: to compliment my day to day, jeans-and-a-t-shirt style.
On the Wrist, the Grayton Watch is Lightweight & Comfortable
Despite its all-steel construction, this 40mm Grayton feels like a featherweight compared to other steel on steel automatics I’ve worn in the past.
Most of the lightness comes from the bracelet, which feels lightweight compared to other bracelets I’ve worn on other watches (such as the ones on the Bulova 96B183, Bulova 96A101, and the Armand Nicolet M02). The bracelet is a little disappointing by comparison, if only because it feels so much lighter that I’m wondering if it’s sub-par. However, in the six weeks I’ve worn the Grayton, the deployment clasp has been great and the bracelet quite comfortable.
The bracelet has some scratches from being worn, but they are the “these scratches happen because that’s what happens to steel bracelets” and not the “this bracelet is made of super-soft metal” kind of scratches. It should age okay so long as you treat it right.
The case is polished to an absolute shine, though it does take to fingerprints quite easily. When clean, the Grayton’s case brings in the best and brightest of its surroundings. It helps give the steel on combination grey some character to break up the chrome.
Grayton is Using a Seiko NH35A Automatic Movement
The NH35A vs 7S26
The Seiko NH35A is a bidirectionally winding automatic movement. It’s a newer movement that evolves on the practicality and robustness of the 7S26 automatic (which is used in watches like the Seiko 5 and Seiko Recraft). While the 7S26 is a reliable movement, it isn’t particularly accurate and it lacks many features.
The NH35A hacks and can be hand-wound. Accuracy isn’t noticeably different (according to toolwatch.io, this one is accurate at +18 seconds per day), but the incorporation of hacking/hand-winding is welcome. It’s manufactured in both Japan and Malaysia.
As you can see, the finishing is on-par with the 7S26 and much better than a lot of budget-automatics that use poorly finished movements. I’d be nice to see some decoration on the movement, though.
NH35A Movement Specifications
Power reserve: 41 hours
Vibrations per hour: 21,600 bph
Accuracy: -20/+40 seconds per day
Setting the Time
- Pull the crown to the furthest position (position 3). Turn the crown to adjust the time. Note that the date window will automatically roll over at midnight.
- Pull the crown to the middle position (position 2). Turn the crown counter-clockwise to adjust the date.
Value – Is It A Good Buy at $255?
Priced at $255, the Grayton needs to do a pretty good job to compete with established brands like Bulova, Orient, Seiko, and the hundreds of newly-established microbrands (like Hastings & Co. and Castle Watch Co.) that are improving in quality and loaded with value. In my mind, $250 is a tough price-point to be at because you’re not quite expensive enough to be considered “valuable”, but you cost enough that you aren’t inexpensive. You have to make some concessions, either in the materials used or somewhere else in the manufacturing process.
The one concession I wish hadn’t been made is on the material used for the crystal. I wish it was sapphire. A domed crystal on a thick watch case is going to get scratched and knicked, especially if worn every day. The crystal would also benefit immensely from an antireflective coating, and not just because it makes picture taking difficult.
These two complaints detract from what is otherwise a perfectly respectable and attractive watch. The Grayton looks good, comes in men’s , unisex, and ladies sizes (44mm, 40mm, 36mm respectively), and is backed by a two year warranty. It’s also comfortable to wear, and you can get it in nearly any strap/color combination you could want.
- Grayton Automatic Watch Technical Specifications
- Grayton Watch Style & Design
- On the Wrist, the Grayton Watch is Lightweight & Comfortable
- Grayton is Using a Seiko NH35A Automatic Movement
- Value – Is It A Good Buy at $255?