PUBLISHED BY Joshua Clare-Flagg ON 19 Jun, 2014.
If you haven’t heard of Lew & Huey or Doc Vail (Chris Vail really, not sure of he’s actually a real doctor) before, chances are you haven’t been cruising around the affordables section on Watchuseek within the last year or so. He’s a very active member and his new watch brand Lew & Huey has become a favourite for all who visit f71, myself included. When offered the chance to have a look at the Acionna, his second model, I snapped at the chance. After all, many forum members have said how pleased they are with theirs.
Acionna was a Gallo-Roman water goddess (just in case you were interested in the name), and the watch was funded via Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lewandhuey/lew-and-huey-watches-the-acionna-and-the-spectre
It comes with a choice of three dial colours: black, white (silver) or blue. We have all three so hopefully you can get a good idea of the colours and which one is for you.
The Acionna has an RRP of $600 or around £353. There’s no doubt that this is a lot of money, so let’s go into the specifics to see if this recent release of the new and exciting brand is as good as it’s all hyped up to be.
Looking at the pictures, I thought the Acionna would be massive. But it’s actually a very reasonable 40mm in diameter, 12mm thick, with a lug to lug length of 48mm.
The watch in general has quite a heftiness about it, weighing in at 147g with the bracelet, and 99g on the leather strap.
Due to the squared off corners of the case, the lug to lug length is quite long for a 40mm watch. But the lugs themselves are quite short, which makes up for it. The lugs have a width of 20mm, a fairly standard strap width.
From the side profile, the case is very angular, with a flat main body followed by a small downturn at the lugs, where angles also feature prominently. The lugs are drilled through – which means that you can get access to the pin holding the strap from the outside, rather than having to take a tool to the inside of the lug, usually resulting in damage. With the Acionna, it’s a simple screw you undo on the outside, which releases the pin so you can pull it out. Much easier, and it also means your watch will keep free from tool marks during strap changes. The cool thing about this is that you actually get a tool purpose made just for this, a micro screwdriver which fits the lugs screws perfectly. A really nice touch.
The good thing about the case is that although it does have a number of angular edges it’s machined and manufactured in a way so that there’s no sharpness anywhere. All of these edges are very soft and have a tiny amount of rounding off to them, which reduces the harshness of the case. It’s very well done that’s for sure.
Looking at the finishing of the Acionna’s case, the top and sides are brushed stainless steel, whilst the whole of the back is polished, as well as the entire bezel. This mixture of finishing is not only a nice design feature (the polished bezel on top of the brushed case makes it really stand out and draws attention to the dial) but it also shows the quality workmanship. The finishing is absolutely spotless and very well done – the polished aspects are as reflective as a mirror, and the brushed finishing is subtle, uniform, and immaculate.
The Acionna has a sapphire crystal on top with excellent anti-reflective coating, offering exceptional clarity. This is especially apparent on the white dial, as it pretty much looks like there isn’t a crystal fitted. The crystal gives you a full-on clear view of the dial, with absolutely no distortion whatsoever.
You most likely have noticed the dual crowns on the Acionna, which is something I really like. The top crown is for the internal bezel, which has a plain polished end, and the bottom screw-in crown is for the time, with the Lew & Huey dog deeply etched in the end. This logo is a very small feature, but it is very surprisingly accurate and precise. I really like the design of the crowns, they’re very angular to match the rest of the case, but also perfectly sized, as they could have easily taken over. The angle does mean that it can be a little tricky to use them, especially if you have fat fingers, as you can’t get a particularly good pinch on them. I really like the grip, almost like a knurled effect. Not only does it look great, it is very valuable having such a good grip due to the angle and size of the crowns, making the usage of them much easier.
The overall shape of the case definitely gives off retro vibes, which is proving to be very popular in the watch world. Many retro and classic designs are getting re-released.
Moving to the screw-in caseback, it features a sapphire crystal for the exhibition window. As you’d expect, sapphire crystal has been used to ensure the most rugged and well-made watch for your money. It gives a perfect and clear view of the movement, a Miyota 9015, which is an excellent work-horse, if a bit plain looking. More on that later. Surrounding the exhibition window is the watch specifics, such as the name, water resistance, serial number etc. All of the writing is polished and raised on a lower, brushed surface, which is very impressive and would have taken a lot of time to get right. This is a nice feature which shows the workmanship of the Acionna. It would have been much easier and cheaper to have a polished surface and etch the text into it, but I’m glad they didn’t.
The Acionna has a depth rating of 200m / 20atm, mainly thanks to its screw-in crown and caseback. This rating means it’s suitable to wear swimming or snorkelling.
Giving the case a good close inspection, the general machining is flawless and extremely high quality. Obviously this is what you’d be hoping for after spending a reasonable amount on a watch. But with the Acionna, you definitely get the feeling that you’re getting what you’re paying for.
You have the choice of three dial colours with the Acionna: white (silver), black or blue. The white is more of a silver, which is very pleasing to the eye and looks expensive. The black is exactly that, a classic colour which always looks great, and the blue is a surprisingly bright, stunning and vivid colour.
The main thing I notice is how the internal bezel creates a wonderful sense of depth, especially with the excellent AR coating on the crystal. It has a lume pip within a triangle at 60 and a very easy to read minute track, with every 5 minutes written out in bold font. Due to the fact it’s so easy to read and can be used as a 60 minute timer, I’ve been using this a lot. You simply rotate the internal bezel until the 60 minute marker is pointing at the minute hand at the time you want to start the timer. Then, as time progresses you can keep track of the time as it progresses. Simply refer to the minute marking on the bezel that the hand is now pointing to. Usually bezels aren’t as well laid out or clear, so it’s refreshing to see it designed so well on the Lew & Huey Acionna.
Moving to the dial itself, the thing which catches my eye most is the applied numerals and hour markers, all of which are flawless and perfectly applied. I love the baton hour markers, they’re very 3-dimensional and pop out of the dial due to the intricate machining.
The numerals at 12, 6 and 9 are all very well made too, with lumed centres. All of the applied items are polished stainless steel, which look great when the light catches it just right.
The outer circle of the dial has a subtle concentric circle pattern on it, which reflects the light in its own unique metallic-style way. When this couples with the reflection of the hands and applied hour markers, the dial really calls out. The inner circle has a thin border around it, breaking the two sections apart. On the black and white dials, this border is red, and on the blue, it’s white.
The printing is all flawless, good quality and very precise.
The logo is raised and located in the top half of the dial. It doesn’t look applied, but rather stamped on the underside of the dial. Personally I’m not a massive fan of the design of it, but I like the way they have calmed it down to match the smart design of the Acionna.
The date window at 3 has a stainless steel frame and is a delightful addition to the dial. It is machined perfectly and is polished, catching the light along with the hands and applied hour markers.
The date wheel is white with black text, which obviously looks best on the white dial. It also looks gold on the blue dial too, and stands out the most on the black dial, as you’d expect. The font and numerals fit the window perfectly, and the style matches the general appearance of the Acionna.
The hands are elegant, not too brash or bold. They’re a thin sword with a lumed centre, and are polished stainless steel to match the rest of the features on the dial, which again reflect the light nicely. The width and length of them are perfect – I like how the hour hand reaches the border between the two sections in the dial, and how the minute hand reaches the minute track. Clean design really pleases me, and this is a good example of that. The minute hand is a thin point, again polished steel. It has a shapely arrow with a lumed centre just past the length of the hour hand, and a red / orange tip. All of the hands are flawless, with no tool marks or bad machining present at all.
On each dial there are is a small additional splash of colour. This the tip of the second hand, and the 5 minute markers on the minute track around the outside edge if the dial. On the white and black dialled Acionnas this is red, and on the blue, it’s orange. It’s a very small usage of colour indeed, but one that is pleasant to see and brings a little extra to the design.
The lume used on all the hands and hour markers is very strong and charges quickly. It glows brightly, even of you’ve just been outside for a while and step inside, and is a bright green colour. Decent quality lume is always important if you aim to make a watch look impressive, and this is indeed the case with the Lew & Huey Acionna. It is excellent to see.
The dial as a whole is excellently executed. When you inspect it closely, it is plain to see that you are getting a very high quality watch for the money.
Firstly, it’s worth mentioning that you get both a leather strap and a stainless steel bracelet when you buy an Acionna, which is great.
The leather strap is beautiful brown leather with an alligator pattern. It looks and feels high quality, and you just get that feeling that it’s a lovely strap when you wear it.
The colour is a light brown and looks very smart, matching all three dial colour variations perfectly. It has white stitching running along the outer edging, which is thick and accurately stitched, and gives the impression the strap will last a long time. The feel of the leather is very pleasant, you can tell that it is decent quality. It is luxuriously soft on the underside, resulting it being very comfortable on the wrist.
The leather strap comes with a well made butterfly deployant clasp. It is all polished stainless steel, which matches the smart and dressy feel of the Acionna. The underside of the clasp is thicker than normal, which means it’s pretty comfortable on the wrist, and shows the high quality of manufacturing.
On the top side, it has the Lew & Huey very lightly etched. Unfortunately this isn’t that deep – I would have preferred it to be engraved a little better. It is a nice shape though, with a bulge on the top rather than a straight bar. It’s obvious that it’s a high quality clasp, it feels great, looks extremely sturdy and is very secure.
An added bonus is that the strap is very easy to change, thanks to the through-lugs on the case. Just unscrew the main pins from the outside edge of the lugs and away you go. So you can change the strap and the bracelet around in under 5 minutes easily, without worrying about damaging the lugs, to match your mood or even your outfit (if you like to do that).
The first thing to note with the steel bracelet is the impressive solid end links. They’re fairly large to start with, but they fit the case and lugs extremely well. It’s usually no surprise when a bracelet doesn’t quite meet up perfectly with the case on an affordable watch, but there is no sign of that with the Acionna. It just goes to show how precisely made everything is.
Another positive, as mentioned with the leather strap, is the drilled through lugs, which makes changing the straps very easy and means you are less likely to damage or scratch anything whilst changing them around.
The links themselves are well made, although personally I would have preferred them to be ever so slightly thicker. I understand that they couldn’t be made larger though, as it would just make the watch too heavy (I’m just a sucker for big thick steel bracelets).
Just like the rest of the watch, the machining and finishing is spot on. The whole of each link is brushed stainless steel, bar two polished strips running down either side of the centre section.
The bracelet is extremely comfortable, thanks to the soft underside from the excellent brushed finishing. No trapped hairs here. There is plenty of free smooth movement between the links too.
The pins used for the links are standard pins, so you’ll need a pin removal tool to resize the bracelet.
The clasp is well made, and feels ultra-secure. It’s double locking, so you have two buttons either side to open the inside clasp, followed by another lock by means of flipping it over the top of the clasp. Like the leather strap, I think the “Lew & Huey” etched into the top could have been a little deeper, but that’s just a minor point. The buckle is completely brushed, matching the rest of the bracelet, and is clearly well made. The elbow section is solid and chunky, and nothing is loose – it’s very well put together. The whole buckle reminds me of the Seiko Monster buckle. Now that’s saying something.
At the case ends of the bracelet, it widens out gradually to join the lugs impeccably. This smooths out the unique size and shape of the lugs and case shoulders very well. The bracelet balances out the weight of the case perfectly, so there’s no sliding around or spinning on your wrist, the watch stays where it’s supposed to.
The bracelet and strap supplied will definitely make you feel confident that you have a well made timepiece on your wrist.
The movement within the Acionna is the Miyota 9015, which is proving to be extremely popular amongst the affordable boutique brands. For example, the 9015 can be found in the Melbourne Flinders, Helson Sharkmaster, and Obris Morgan Explorer. All of these watches have proved to be effective timekeepers so the movement has certainly proved it’s point. It’s as rugged and has the same specs as any of the Swiss Made automatic movements, all for a fraction of the price. It has a high beat count of 28.8k bph (8 ticks a second), hacking seconds, and hand wind functionality. The seconds hand is very smooth too, with no signs of shuddering or stuttering.
As discussed earlier, the Acionna features a display / exhibition caseback, so the Miyota 9015 can be seen from the rear. As always, it’s fairly rugged and industrial in appearance – nothing too fancy about it. But in this instance I think that suits the watch just fine. Timekeeping has been excellent.
I thought the packaging was worth a final mention. Usually, a watch comes in a pretty boring leather box, which I immediately throw in the attic and never see again until the day I sell the watch comes around. With the Acionna though, you get a smaller box – much more like a travel case. This has already proved to be extremely useful, as I’ve used it countless times since receiving the Acionna.
It’s a flat cuboid shape, and one end slides into the other. Within that side, there is a distinct watch shape, where you place your treasured timepiece. The watch fits snugly, so you know it’s not going to get damaged, but within the area where the strap sits there’s also enough room to fit extra straps and tools too.
It’s not too big either – measuring in at 20cm long, 8.5cm wide, and 4.5cm tall, fitting comfortably in a backpack, travel case, or even a handbag.
My personal favourite combination for the Lew & Huey Acionna is the white dial on the brown leather strap. But then I think the blue dial on the bracelet is so vivid it’s just beautiful. And then there’s something about a black dialled watch that makes it look so cool.
But no matter which Acionna you choose, it feels comfortable, oozes coolness and quality, and looks great on the wrist – plus it’s excellently made. All of the dials are lovely colours, and fit well with the bracelet or the leather strap. Yes, it is on the slightly higher end of the affordables price window, but you do get an exquisitely made timepiece for what you’re paying. It definitely feels worth the money, plus it has a unique design which allows it to stand out.