Based in Bahrain, Nuun Official is a watch brand that aims to provide buyers with popular styles and features, while simultaneously maintaining a firmly accessible price point. Given that all of the brand’s models (at least at the time of writing) are based upon the core case shape of the Patek Philippe Nautilus, there are some who consider Nuun Official to be a straightforward homage brand. However, nearly all of its watches have been given some type of significant aesthetic twist, and many of them represent offerings that would never be produced by Patek Philippe itself. A perfect example of this is the Nuun Official Origen Sahara, which features a Hindu-Arabic dial and a carbon composite case, making it hardly a budget-friendly alternative for the person who wants a standard Nautilus, but rather for the collector who wants some crazy custom Nautilus from the likes Off-White or Artisans de Genève, yet only want to spend a few hundred dollars to get this style on their wrist.
Characterized by entirely black external components, the case of the Nuun Official Origen Sahara is made from Carbon X Tech, which is what Nuun Official calls its “in-house manufactured” carbon composite case material that consists of 30% carbon fiber mixed with 70% polycarbonate. The dimensions of the watch measure 40.5mm in diameter by 9.8mm thick with an overall lug-to-lug profile of 47mm; however, if you include the crown guards and the protrusion on the 9 o’clock side of the case, the total horizontal diameter of the case comes in at approximately 43mm. Additionally, despite having the same shape as the Nautilus, the case of the Nuun Official Origen Sahara follows a much less complex design that consists of a single-piece middle case, which is fitted with a separate bezel and a solid caseback that is secured at the corners by four small screws.
While the middle case and bezel are constructed from Carbon X Tech, the caseback and signed push/pull-style crown are both made from stainless steel with a black PVD finish. Additionally, while the caseback fitted to this particular example states that it has a sapphire crystal, this is not the same caseback that appears in the photos of the watch on Nuun Official’s website, and in both the product photos and specifications, the Origen Sahara is listed as having a flat K1 crystal with an anti-reflective coating. K1 crystals are a specific type of hardened mineral glass, and while the material is supposed to be slightly less prone to shattering compared to synthetic sapphire, K1 isn’t quite as hard as sapphire, meaning that it will ultimately be less resistant to scratches. While K1 crystals can be the superior choice for a few very specific applications, the decision to use K1 over sapphire on the Nuun Official Origen Sahara was more than likely a cost-related measure, and I imagine that the vast majority of individuals would rather have a sapphire crystal for its superior resistance to daily superficial blemishes.
The Sahara is just one model from Nuun Official’s Origen collection, and the key differences between the various Origen models are the dial layouts and colors that are found among them. The Sahara variant offers a traditional time-and-date layout with three centrally-mounted hands and a date window at 3 o’clock; however, you will also find other models in the Origen lineup that omit the date display entirely and relocate the running seconds down to its own register on the lower half of the dial. While Nuun Official produces Origen models with a variety of different dial colors, the Sahara offers one of the more traditional palettes with a matte black surface, white text, and the “Origen” name appearing in small green letters on the lower half of the dial as the only use of color on the entire watch. Similarly, while the hands on the Origen models all follow the same fundamental shape and design, they can appear with different finishes, and the handset fitted to the Nuun Official Origen Sahara features matte black center sections with white luminous tips to give them somewhat of a floating effect against the matte black surface of the dial.
Given that the brand is based in Bahrain (although the watches themselves are designed in Spain and cased in China), a number of different Nuun Official models feature dials with Hindu-Arabic numerals, and this includes the Origen Sahara, which features them on both its dial and calendar disc. Additionally, along with the standard 1-12 numerals that serve as the primarily hour markers, the dial of the Nuun Official Origen Sahara also features a secondary 24-hour scale with Hindu-Arabic numerals for its 13-24 markings, which get printed along the periphery of the dial in the location where you would normally find the minute track. As for its lume, the Origen Sahara uses strontium aluminate-based LumiBrite (just like Seiko) on its hands, hour markers, secondary 24-hour track, and even for the Nuun Official logo, which provides these white-colored sections with a reasonably bright green-colored glow when viewed in dark settings.
Powering the Nuun Official Origen Sahara is the reliable albeit entirely inauspicious Miyota Cal. 1S13 quartz movement. Running on a single SR621SW power cell with a battery life of approximately three years and an accuracy rating of -/+20 seconds per month, the Miyota 1S13 is one of the Japanese movement manufacture’s more basic quartz options, although it does promise to deliver many years of consistent performance and can always be swapped out for a complete replacement at a minimal cost should a battery replacement ever fail to bring it back to life. While I don’t have any issues with simple quartz movements like the Miyota 1S13, these types of entry-level calibers aren’t in any way remarkable, and something like a solar-powered alternative or even a movement with an extra-long battery life would ultimately feel like a much more intentional decision and not just the result of a cost-related measure that was required in order to achieve a target retail price.
While the actual Patek Philippe Nautilus features a true integrated bracelet design, the Nuun Official Origen Sahara simply emulates this appearance with 17mm lugs and a rubber strap that quickly flares out to 25mm in order to meet the outer edges of the lugs before taping back down to 18mm where it connects to its black PVD-coated tang buckle. The strap itself is black with a raised textured section running down the center, and it is made from Nuun Official’s “Dirt-Resist” Nanotech rubber, which the brand describes as being one of its flagship materials. The strap itself is quite soft and comfortable (which is a good thing given that a standard 17mm strap would look severely undersized when fitted to the case of the Origen Sahara), and while the “Dirt-Resist” branding is a bit unusual, I can only assume that it refers to the fact that the rubber material features a soft matte finish that makes it noticeably less prone to collecting dust and various other dirt particles.
While the Nuun Official Origen Sahara is far from being a perfect watch, it does check a lot of trendy boxes and offers a popular aesthetic at a firmly accessible price point. Carbon fiber cases and Hindu-Arabic dials are both having a bit of a moment right now, and the Nautilus itself has been in the realm of mega-expensive unobtanium for a number of years. Additionally, Patek Philippe is never actually going to make a carbon composite Nautilus with a Hindu-Arabic dial and a rubber strap, and to have one of the big-name customization houses create a one-of-a-kind Nautilus like this would end up costing you somewhere deep into the six-figure territory. If it had a sapphire crystal and a solar-powered movement, the Nuun Official Origen Sahara would be an even more compelling offering, although these updates would have inevitably resulted in a higher retail price, and accessibility remains one of the Origen Sahara’s greatest strengths.
The average cost of carbon composite watches has been significantly decreasing in recent years, although they are still typically accompanied by a slight premium when compared to otherwise identical watches that have cases made from stainless steel. With an official retail price of $360 USD, the Nuun Official Origen Sahara is positioned firmly on the affordable side of the greater watch enthusiast spectrum, although a similar amount can also get you a carbon-composite watch from a number of other brands. That said, what you are really buying with one of Nuun Official’s watches is access to unconventional renditions of a highly popular style, and the Origen Sahara is an ideal budget-friendly alternative for the person who loves the look of a custom Nautilus but only wants to spend a few hundred dollars to add this aesthetic to their collection. For more information on the Nuun Official Origen Sahara, please visit the brand’s website.