The upcoming premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens is just a couple of months away and Nixon has already unveiled a number of Star Wars-themed timekeepers. There, if I understand correctly, will be sort of ‘official’ watches of the series. Besides the inevitable “Stormtroopers”, and “Imperial Pilots”, there is also a full-black Nixon 51-30 Darth Vader: a limited edition device that pays homage to the most iconic character of the series. And, yes: all three models are dedicated to agents of the dark side of the Force. Ah, that irresistible attractiveness of Evil!
In case you were living under the proverbial rock all this time, I think I have to note that during the last couple of years different watchmaking brands released a number of collections celebrating one of the most successful sci-fi sagas in recorded history. Some, like the monochromatic Seiko Ananta Star Wars Stormtrooper, looked absolutely stunning, while the others, well, weren’t that remarkable.
In that regard, this new Nixon 51-30 Darth Vader Automatic will probably stand somewhere in the middle: while it certainly has a number of nice touches scattered all over its black case and dial, most of them are rather obvious (sometimes even too obvious.)
However, if you are a die-hard fan of the series, this may be a very nice purchase since you can finally get yourself a Star Wars-themed artifact that, while being relatively affordable (pricing is yet to be officially revealed, but it will probably have an MSRP of around $2500 USD, which is not too steep given its level of refinement and a bullet-proof Swiss-made self-winding movement that powers it,) doesn’t look like an overpriced plastic toy one could get at Comic-Con.
Although I, regretfully, can’t use Vader’s famous “Most Impressive” quote to summarize my, um, impressions regarding this timekeeper, I could still say that this new model 51-30 looks quite solid and can actually be used with something more formal than Bermuda shorts and a Hawaiian shirt.
Case & Bracelet
The Nixon 51-30 will be offered in a rather bulky 51 mm case crafted from blacked-out, lightweight titanium alloy.
The case itself is relatively thin for a wristwatch powered by an automatic caliber, but the bezel with its signature six bumps reminiscent of the famous ‘Imperial crest’ (the emblem was fully replicated on the matte black hour hand and filled with Superluminova) increases its overall thickness by about fifty percent making this timekeeper a really huge piece of memorabilia.
Even despite its curved lugs, its effective profile is rather flat, which may be a problem to those who happen to have relatively narrow, roundish wrists. Frankly, I don’t think that ordering this watch online without trying it on first would be a good idea.
Also, you should take into account the positioning of its setting/winding crown: located at 9 o’clock, it will be difficult to operate for an average right-handed person. However, if you are a lefty or simply prefer to wear your watch on the right wrist, this may actually make it more comfortable.
Rated for 200 meters of water resistance, the case will allow you not only take an occasional shower or even a swim with this timekeeper but actually allows for some recreational snorkeling without risk of damaging the timekeeper’s mechanism.
As for the bracelet, it, too, makes a very solid impression with its three-link design and a micro-adjustable stainless steel double locking clasp.
The mechanism here is a good old ETA 2824-2 automatic movement that seems to come in featuring standard finish. The only thing that is different here from a blank movement is the branded oscillating weight that tries to match the black and red theme of the watch with its dark grey finish.
Frankly, for an American watch that is priced at $2500, the way the mechanism is finished is a bit disappointing: I really have expected something more elaborated here.
As for the dial, it looks unexpectedly subtle (well, maybe not particularly ‘subtle’, but at least certainly not cheesy) with the list of references to the Star Wars universe and its most notable villain limited to the aforementioned Imperial crest on the hour hand, a fragment of Darth Vader’s mask at six hours, and, of course, the central seconds hand that is finished like a Sith lightsaber with its signature scarlet blade.
While its almost totally black color scheme may seriously hinder its legibility in certain lighting scenarios, reading it in normal lighting will not be a problem. Same goes for nighttime legibility since the black luminous compound that fills its hands is glows brightly enough in total darkness for you to always easily tell time. However, the fact that the large Arabic numerals come without any lume in them is, too, a bit disappointing.
Pricing & Availability
At the time of writing this brief review, Nixon’s site still showed this (and other members of the collection) Nixon 51-30 Darth Vader as “out of stock” with its recommended price set at $2500. I suppose that the watch will go on sale closer to Christmas when The Force Awakens finally hits an IMAX near you.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 5/5
Nixon 51-30 Darth Vader specification
Price: $2500 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, caliber ETA 2824-2, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 25
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 38 hours
Movement decoration: Branded rotor
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds
Case and Bezel: Titanium
Size: 51.00 mm
Lug width: 25.00 mm
Hour markers: Luminous
Hands: Luminous, black
Water resistance: 200 meters
Strap: Titanium bracelet with stainless steel double locking clasp