Unless you’re a Glaswegian, it’s unlikely that you've heard of Paulin. For the past few years the Scottish company has been quietly creating watches for an enthusiastic local audience, with most of their trade done face-to-face in their West End studio and shop. The company is made up of six designers from a broad variety of disciplines; architecture, type design, graphics, and fashion. The brand’s visual aesthetic is playful, expressing their love of design, appreciation for materials, and a belief in value-for-money. The Paulin Commuter Automatic is their first mechanical watch.
The majority of their customers are not watch experts or collectors with multiple watches, and this was something they addressed with the release of the original Commuter model. Rather than launching a dress or a diving watch, they designed a piece which would work in formal or casual situations—an everyday watch. The design has been incredibly popular, so when it came to working on their first automatic, the team members were keen on keeping the Commuter’s broad appeal.
The 3-piece exhibition case sandwiches a vertically brushed body between a satin PVD gunmetal bezel and screw-in caseback. The layering gives the case a slimmer profile and interesting aesthetic whilst the quality of vertical brushing on the case body is indicative of the level of craftsmanship which has gone into this watch. The watch measures 37mm in diameter by 10.5mm deep with a lug to lug length of 45mm. The lugs are also drilled.
The dial is a two-layer construction with radial grooves, skeleton hands, and a sweeping yellow second hand, giving the watch an aesthetic that is crisp and modern whilst referencing classic sector dials. The ‘Geo’ font was designed by Paulin specifically for its watch dials—with a typographer in the design team, the dial numerals were always going to be a pivotal feature of the watch. When designing the numbers they had to consider the range in size that they needed to function at, and the balance they had to strike between being decorative and legible. They decided to use this constraint as a starting point for the design by incorporating gaps into the numbers—when viewed up close they have an aesthetic function, but from further away the eye automatically fills them in. The forms of the letters are inspired by Art Deco era typography, which is reflected in their sharp points and geometric shapes.
Leather work is a big part of Paulin. Two of the designers are also trained leather-workers, so straps are something they take seriously. Their leather workshop occupies the back of their studio/shop, where they produce bespoke straps for customers and prototype new designs. The Commuter Automatic comes on an English bridle leather strap as standard. Sourced from Clayton & Sons Ltd. in England, Paulin believes the 177 year old tannery produces the best quality bovine leather in the world. Clayton's bridle leather has been Paulin’s standard strap for several years now as it ages beautifully and is incredibly hard wearing, having been created to endure the elements as horse tack whilst still looking good.
Paulin offers a wide range of straps in the shop and online, including German hypoallergenic suede, stingray, and Italian Shell Cordovan, all hand-made in Bavaria, Germany. They’ve also designed their own buckle to accompany their new models, which is available on the bridle straps. The design incorporates a keeper into the structure to simplify the aesthetic of the strap.
The glass in both the front and exhibition back is sapphire coated, making it tough and highly scratch-resistant. The brand’s use of bright colors and Art Deco inspired forms contrasts with the trend for minimalism amongst their peers. At $495 the Paulin Commuter Automatic represents incredibly good value for money and is available now through Paulin’s physical shop in Glasgow or from their site. paulinwatches.com
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