October 6, 2020
by Ariel Adams
Italian Out Of Order (OOO) watches is a new watch brand that has tapped into an interesting area of consumer interest: the distressed watch. Out Of Order gained prominence being heavily featured on the Watch Gang subscriber sales platform, and has become one of a few darlings for novice watch lovers seeking to explore the various aesthetic styles and trends popular today in higher-end watchmaking art. For relatively little money, consumers could buy a pre-distressed timepiece that gave them the feel of wearing something old or vintage, but brand new. OOO is not the only company to do this, but they are among the most affordable — and they actually do it quite well. I think the secret is the hand “aging” each watch gets.
Out Of Order isn’t MadeWorn, nor is their distressing style as detailed or lavish as performed by, say, Laco with the Erbstuck collection (which was also part of how the Laco RAD-AUX was made). That said, OOO does take “distressing” its watches seriously and plays with a range of techniques to scratch, nick, discolor, tarnish, and otherwise make these watches feel like personality-rich antiques that have lived a full life prior to ever being on your wrist. An entirely different conversation can be had that explains the niche appeal of distressed timepieces, and how those of us who like such watches manifest our interest in all things “patina.”
The OOO Swiss Automatico collection is (as the name implies) a new higher-end product from OOO that makes use of a Swiss Automatic movement. Specifically, OOO uses Swiss Made STP caliber STP 1-11 movements. Other brands, such as Zodiac, use STP movements…. and you can see the automatic movement through the window on the back of the case.
The Swiss Automatico watch itself is diver-style in form and shape, with 100 meters of water resistance and a dial that is somewhere between a Rolex and an Omega. The dial (colored green for this model) is textured to give it a more aged and character-rich look. There is a lot of personality in the design, such as the label of “Damaged in Italy,” the statement of “please, treat me bad” on the rear of the watch, and the reminder about not cooking spaghetti for more than eight minutes engraved on the inner wall around the periphery of the dial. This type of lightheartedness is the absolute opposite of how brands like Patek Philippe carry themselves, and why an alternative and more playful approach is welcome by a large segment of the wristwatch consumer community. Watches are supposed to be both fun to appreciate and fun to wear.
The OOO Swiss Automatico case is 44mm-wide in steel, with a PVD coloring treatment over it that is discolored and scratched off in places. Over the dial is a flat sapphire crystal. Many would say that the overall watch is a good example of Italian Sprezzatura fashion when it comes to the aging process. This is actual craftsmanship, and I don’t think that without some type of method or system the resultant look of the pre-aging effect would be as fun. This is, indeed, niche territory (but I happen to love it when it is well-done).
OOO has some things to learn about overall case and dial proportions. The bezel seems a bit thick and the hands seem a bit thin, given the overall proportions of the case. The overall construction has a sort of clunkiness to it which is charming but prevents the watch from feeling like a precision timekeeping instrument. Then again, it really isn’t that expensive for what you get and no one experienced would compare an OOO watch to something costing a few thousand dollars or more.
Attached to the case is a Jubilee-style bracelet, which is comfortable when sized. Fashion-wise, there is a lot to like about the OOO Swiss Automatico because what it lacks in refinement it makes up for in visual pizazz and sheer personality. When launched, the Out Of Order Swiss Automatico collection had models available with a black, orange, blue, or this green dial, each with its own distinctive character and appeal.
Each new OOO watch seems to come with more and more originality. The brand started as making emulations of popular watch designs but in OOO’s own “damaged” line. I’d like to see the core designs become more distinctive, as well as see OOO make use of better and better parts. The brand has a good eye for design and colors, and its ability to inexpensively pre-distress watches to give them an aged look merits attention, for sure. The Out Of Order Green Swiss Automatico watch has a retail price of 629 Euros. Learn more or order at the Out of Order website here.