Castle Watch Co Cavetto “Rustic Brass” – Detailed Review

What is the cost of a watch?

So what does $154 USD get you these days?  Well according to Castle Watch Company it’s a spec sheet of very specific features that they offer so long as they use the Kick Starter (KS) business model.  Like many KS brands, Castle appears to be trying to go legit by selling direct from their website and you can judge based on the website how that is going for them.  With the spec sheet in hand lets see how these features stand up to regular use when purchased as an everyday consumer.

For this detailed review I pledged for a model through KickStarter, going through the KS experience just like everyone else.

Who’s it for? The Cavetto is for a consumer who wants an extra durable everyday titanium automatic with a unique design (read not all steel).

TWC Paid:  $205.00 CAD (exchanged from $154.00 USD) + 15 USD Shipping

Castle Watch Company  
Model: Cavetto “Rustic Brass”                    
Reference: N/A           Origin: USA  
Case: 42mm TA2 Titanium, Coated             Height:11mm              Length: 44mm   Lugs: 22mm               Bezel: 120-click Titanium Uni-Directional Rotating  
Movement: Seiko NH-35 Automatic, 24J (21,600 BPH), 41 Hour Power Reserve, hacking, hand-windable  
Crystal: Sapphire (front & rear)  
WR: 10 ATM – 10 Bar – 100m – 330ft  
Lume: N/A  
Strap: Genuine Italian Calf Skin Leather / Black Custom NATO strap  
MSRP: N/A  
Website: CastleWatchCo.com
Finding this watch…  
With all KS products finding them on the open market post-campaign can vary.  At the time of writing there is only a single sample of the Cavetto available on eBay and the watch is still not available for direct purchasing from the Castle Watch Co website.  
eBay “Castle Watch Cavetto”        
              
The Cross Shop:  
Costco.ca – $149.99 CAD – Hugo Boss Cape Town Men’s Watch – similar I think in terms of what it’s trying to achieve but obviously lacking in features like the automatic movt, sapphire crystal and rotating bezel.  

Amazon.ca – $273.90 CAD – Seiko Carbon Fiber Titanium SUR271P1 – a 41mm featured in black finished titanium, this Seiko achieves the same overall goal as the Castle.  However, for the Seiko name you only get a Hardlex crystal, fabric strap, and quartz movement with no rotating bezel.  Overall this is a nice-looking watch for every day.

Rolex – $4299.64 CAD – ROLEX 1975 DateJust 1625 Turn-O-Graph  – featuring 14kt gold accents, a bi-direction rotating bezel, a bullet-proof caliber 1570 automatic movement, and an acrylic crystal this DJ can be had at less than half of what you’ll find the popular Submariner.  So long as you’re confident in the 36mm case the Turn-O-Graph is a fantastic choice for a functional every Rolex that isn’t a Sub!  

The Details…

When discussing the Castle Cavetto, the overall mindset must always come back to the comparison of features for price.  So, for every question posed here we should ask ourselves, “self, is this worth more, less or the same as what is being charged?”  If you go by the spec sheet alone, you’ll find an impressive list of features including:

And all this for just $205.00 CAD ($169.00 USD) shipped to your door… and what’s the catch you ask?  Well let’s explore the Castle Cavetto together and see how all these specs fit together in the real world!

It should be noted that the final MSRP has yet to be announced by Castle Watch Co. and what we have here is quoted from their KS campaign.  Time will tell whether Castle can maintain the low costs that the controlled KS environment offers or if they can break free as a stand-alone independent and from their potentially legitimize through retailers. 

I love KS campaigns but is it the right move for a fledgling watch company?  Are KS watches worth your time and money? What’s your take?

1.         Packaging

Simple and effective for the price though I would note that if Castle were to continue offering 2 straps with every watch they would either need to push the second straps out separate from the watches or make bigger and/or modified boxes to accommodate the extra strap.

2.         Case

One of the primary selling features of the Cavetto is that it is a titanium (TA2) watch which means light weight and tough.  Problem with TA2 is that it can feel so light and we, society, often view heavy as valuable or at the very least associate light with plastic and plastic with cheap.  Don’t believe me?  Handle a carbon fiber Audemars Piguet (AP) and then comment if it really felt like the AP money you laid out for it. 

When you handle the Cavetto you realize though that there is still substance, weight, to it which might seem strange if you’ve handled quartz powered TA2 watches prior to this.  The reasons for this are that the automatic movement inside is simply a weighty thing.  This weight feels like it is centred in the watch vice evenly distributed throughout the watch like a heavier material would.  I like this little bit of weight, but if weight signifies value to you then you’ll likely pine for the lightness of a quartz movement.

I watched a review of MVMT™ vs Vincero™ brand watches and the reviewer specifically say that the Vincero™ is a better watch because it weighed more (you can search YouTube for this).  I would assume its because there is a base metal plate or something added to it to make it feel heavier for this exact reason but it may also just be because they are steel vs a cheaper base metal. 

The next question is “what is a rustic brass” finish?  It’s not a PVD, it’s not paint and it’s not plating… so what is it exactly?  To be honest I have no idea but when you look at it closely it screams “single coat” to me.  It looks every bit like a coating and not the true color of a metal I can tell you that.  My guess is it’s probably the least expensive PVD-type coating they could source.  It does resist smudging VERY well which makes the case easy to clean but there is also a strange heat looking discoloring on both ends between the lugs.  Not a big deal but once you see it you can’t un-see it! (like hour hands that are too short!) 

“Rain, Hail, Sleet, Snow, and of course those sunny days in or out of the pool (they’re also waterproof!).”  I’m not sure about the liability around using the phrase “waterproof” these days but the reality of the matter here is that the Cavetto features 100m of water resistance.  Now there are currently very few reviews of the Cavetto prototype, and even fewer of the final product, but I felt that I should warn any who read this that the Cavetto is NOT a diver’s watch as is claimed in some other reviews (you can again search the web for these).  You could say that it’s a diver STYLED watch, with some features of a diver’s watch, uni-directional bezel, 100m water resistance, etc…; but it does not meet the criteria set out by ISO 6425 that classifies what is required to be a true diver’s watch.  The ISO will charge you for a .PDF copy of ISO 6425:2018 but you can google an open source break down of what is required to meet the definition of diver’s watch if you are so interested.  My take here is that if you need to take a dip and you have the Cavetto on you can and if it does happen to fill up it only cost you $150 USD.  Downside of this of course being that unless they start selling more of these you won’t be able to replace it… so maybe no swimming with it?

3.         Bezel & Rehaut

The Bezel.  You sweet sweet cheap bezel you.  Okay, so maybe “cheap” isn’t the right word to use here but I’ll let you decide at the end of this section what word you think best describes my bezel woes.  The 120 click rotating bezel was an “unlocked” feature achieved through KS and it is unfortunately a MASSIVE let down for me for a couple of reasons.  The “clicks” themselves are sharp and loud, and you’ll hear each and every one; problem here is that the bezel can be freely moved back and forth between two of these “click” points which means there is 2 millimeters of travel between each point.  Along with this it feels like the entire bezel is not quite fitted properly and feels like you can almost pull it right off, there is even a half mm of free travel between where the bezel sits and the case body.  Now I’ll summarize Castle Watch Co’s subsequent response to this issue for you, but if you want to read the whole thing it can be found on their KS.  The nutshell is that they claim of the 1,000 units produced only 20, 2%, have been reported as being “dissatisfied” with the Cavetto and that the bezel fitment issue is due to the “matching process only being able to go so far”.  I find Castle to be very defensive when presented with any negative feedback, but I suspect that the project may be someone’s baby so read and judge for yourself…  Interestingly Castle mentions here that they took a loss on this production run…

This all being said I bought this watch like any regular consumer would and if there is a defect I don’t care if only 20 of 1,000 are defective.  If I buy a Toyota built car, a brand known for their reliability, and the car breaks down or there is a general fit and finish issue, I don’t just give them a pass because most of their cars don’t have problems!  Of course, a Toyota comes with a warranty and Castle Watch Co KS watches don’t, so I guess I, and 19 others, are just unlucky victims of cost checking…

Bezel travel is one thing but what about the rest of the bezel?  Well Castle Watch Co also claims that the only way to color the recessed “indices” around the bezel was to paint it by hand.  Think about how much hand painting each watch must have cost to outsource and I would speculate that the people at Castle must have ordered some pizzas and had an all-night bezel painting party!  Regardless of how they did it the paint job LOOKS like it was done in a cost-controlling fashion.  Judge for yourself from the photos but I again don’t care that others received “better” painted bezels than I.  The one I received looks like a child applied liquid paper to it with a brush.  Honestly it looks terrible and I’m strongly considering taking some black paint and a fine-tip brush and painting them in so at the very least they won’t be so noticeable. 

If I were in a store considering this watch, I would see the poorly applied bezel indices, feel the wiggle room between clicks if the bezel and would question whether all of the other features were worth these 2 major complaints.  If I were buying an “expeditionary” watch to travel with, as many do with Invicta’s for example, I would definitely give the Cavetto a pass.

If you think that this is it for the bezel you would be wrong!

Diving with an analog watch you want, and need, a list of features.  One of these is a uni-directional bezel to prevent possibly running out of oxygen (google for a full explanation).  This makes sense, it’s a tool for diving.  For just tracking time a bi-directional bezel allows the user to time anything from how long you have left on the parking meter to how long its been since you started a task and because its not keeping you breathing like a divers watch you can rotate it back and forth as necessary.  I personally find bi-directional bezels extraordinarily useful for my everyday and, along with a date window, is a must have in a perfect daily watch for me, though this is just me.  So, what type of bezel do you think the Cavetto features seeing as its not a diver’s watch?  You guessed it, a uni-directional “dive” bezel.  Because somehow that makes sense…  Maybe it was just less expensive this way, and if so then I get it.  Ultimately, it’s a nitpick but it’s the little things in life that can make us great or can annoy us to divorce.

A final observation for the bezel is that because it is TA2 the grooves around the bezel are aggressively cut; if you run your fingers over the top of the watch, you’ll feel what I mean.  It certainly doesn’t feel refined, but this is a minor detail at this point.

That was a lot of bezel talk, lets move on.

4.         Lugs

The 42mm body doesn’t leave much room for lugs and Castle has smartly made the lugs the minimum length required, and I think this was smartly designed.  This said, you should note that the Cavetto has 22mm lugs, not 20mm.  Honestly, I think Castle has done a great job size wise here and the lugs are a testament to this.  A lot of watches rock 20mm straps though these days so just be aware you may need to expand your strap line.

5.         Crown

The crown is a medium size that would have worked a bit better on a smaller 40mm case but still looks good.  It is well detailed and well cut and features the Castle logo in a combination of sand blasted and polished finishing.  It looks nice but when I first operated it, I immediately observed that it rotated counter-clockwise a little too easily. This is something I’ve noticed on other similar Seiko engines and really is the tiniest of nitpicks.  The movement gladly accepts hand winding with the crown unlike some other movements which is nice as well.

6.         Crystal

The crystal is as should be expected; a round cut piece of synthetic sapphire that is sufficiently protected by the bezel.

7.         Dial

The diamond cut indices, Castle calls them “rhombus”, like those of the Meccaniche Veneziane Redentore Burano and Seiko Presage, both recently reviewed, have a great shine to them and some part of the dial is always catching the light. 

Castle advertises that the dial itself is metal which may be good for long term wear but when you look at it from an appearance aspect it just looks like plastic.  Waffle plastic…  It reminds me of a golf ball, and I’d like to see the white dial version as I feel like it would give off an even more golfy appearance.  To me the metal dial feature doesn’t offer any increase in perceived value, so I hope they got a good deal on this part. 

Side note:  What did Word say to the date wheel? “Print”…

I’m certain we can all agree that custom printed date wheels would not have been money well spent so I’ll work on getting over it.

8.         Hands

The hour hand sweeps along the ends of the dial indices while the minute hand ticks about halfway over top of them.  Some have said the hands should be longer, but I’d say if anything the indices could be shorter.  Personally, I don’t have any issue with the length of the hands but as always, you’re the one spending the money so you be the judge.

9.         Lume

With the long list of features Castle must have run out of budget for lume as it has been left off the spec sheet and personally it doesn’t make a difference to me. 

10.       Movement / Functions

With all this talk around the case, we should probably get looking at the beating heart of the Cavetto which is another of the big selling features Castle wants you to know about.  At this price point it would be natural to expect a cheap Miyota or Seagull / Chinese made movement but instead we find a Seiko built workhorse, the NH-35A, that is a well loved export model.  This NH-35A inside is unmodified from it’s original form which at this price point is entirely fine as the point here is to simply illustrate that it IS an automatic, or ISN’T a quartz, and not to be fancy.

Personally, if it’s not a Miyota then it’s already ahead for me as I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with Miyota movements, like a rotor shearing off…  this is just me though and with all the Seiko movements in brands like Invicta I’m sure many of you will have your own experiences (in October 2019 I’ll be doing a review of the Infantry® Aviateur from KS which will be featuring a Miyota automatic movement so don’t paint me as anti-Miyota just yet).

11.       Case Back

Flip the Cavetto over an you’ll get a glimpse of the movement through a sapphire exhibition window.  Frankly I think they should have spent the dollars from this somewhere else, but I get that since a big selling feature for the Cavetto was that it had an automatic movement, I get that they wanted to be able to show it off.  This being said… the NH-35A has been left completely undecorated and considering the attention Castle has placed marking everything else with either a logo or a name I would have thought laser engraving the rotor would have been something they would have done. 

Another thing with being able to see the movement is that for a 24 jeweled movement you and I only get to see 2 of those jewels and the rest are hidden away.  Again, not a big deal, and since this is an unmodified movement Castle doesn’t have a choice about this, but Castle also put the exhibition caseback there, so I’ll use it!   Arguably though, if you were new to watches and this were your first automatic its cool just to see the rotor go.  Thankfully, one of those two jewels smartly holds the balance staff in place, so this movement should last a long time.  Now, take a moment to look at the movement from an angle and you’ll see the teeth of a nice big WHITE PLASTIC SPACER; SERIOUSLY??  You put this big window on the back, and you do NOTHING to fancy up the inside? At this point we all get that ever dollar was accounted for here and maybe your target audience won’t notice it but common…

12.       Strap / Bracelet

Here we are gifted with a soft decently constructed Italian sourced “genuine leather” strap.  Since the “genuine leather” stamp doesn’t mean much, “rubbish” if you read this article by strap maker Paulin, we will take this strap at face value only.  I like this strap, stitching appears well done, the buckle is engraved “Castle” and is “rustic brass” coated, both nice touches.  The big thing is that its soft to the touch, looks nice and suits the Cavetto.  Overall the leather strap punches well above its price point.  The NATO strap is good as well, as does things NATO straps do when they’re free with purchase.

13.       Gravitas / On the Wrist

We finally come to the end and I have to comment on Castle Watch Co’s statement that the Cavetto features a “custom In-house design”… really?  You’re telling me that you designed the Cavetto yourself?  Homer designed the Homer-mobile himself too… Thankfully the Cavetto isn’t the Homer-mobile, but this claim is just marketing nonsense.  But I understand that when MVMT™ and others are just vacuuming up the $$$, it can be important to identify to prospective customers that your watch isn’t just a branded Ali-Express™ watch.

I mentioned it earlier but it’s important to note that Castle doesn’t advertise its warranty for the Cavetto at all.  This may be because the Cavetto is currently only a KS exclusive and, as a KS buyer, you’re pretty much stuck with whatever shows up at your door as-is.  It’s important to note that part of what you pay for with mainstream brands is that assumption of liability by the brand.  Say what you will about other brands but if your Seiko stops working as it was when you bought it, and its within the warranty period, you will get it fixed.  Castle can’t say that about it’s KS production runs.  I’m going to reach out to Castle Watch Co and I’ll post back with my bezel fitment query and their response to it. 

I would guess that the continued delay on the Cavetto’s retail release is due to all of these little factors, 2 year warranty cost, bezel fitment, bezel indices painting, ect… all adding up to much more than what Castle expected and that they having difficulty making the watch as is work within their desired price point.  Just a guess but time will tell…

14.       The Wife Check

“It looks cheap.”  To defend the Cavetto line-up, this statement was based on the brass finish and the white bezel indices which are both features unique to this model within the line-up. If you are buying for your man or if you are buying for yourself in order to impress keep these sentiments in mind.

Final Thoughts

Castle questions other brands intentions when they price what Castle calls out as inferior products, but I think any of these main stream brands would immediately reply with some version of “to not to take a loss”…

At this point in reading you should recognize that, for the price, the Cavetto should be an excellent buy for someone wanting the most bang for buck and that all these features taken at face value should be impressive. 

Value wise the Cavetto is an obvious win, but you will have to judge for yourself if the final build quality is good enough to justify.

I would not buy the Cavetto retail if it had the bezel fitment issues that this one has, and seeing the dismal job done painting the very noticeable bezel indices would turn me off the Cavetto completely.  If it were a different model within the line-up my opinion might change. 

With all this said, I do own it, I am wearing it right now, and if I end up in Mexico or Cuba I’ll be rocking my Cavetto and not my Explorer.

What do you think?

Are our two major issues enough to send you packing or can you overlook them?

I hope the new format and updated information better informs you as a fellow consumer and if Castle Watch Co reads this update, I hope you find a way to make the Cavetto a viable product line and can resolve the current issues you have with it.  If you do find a way to make a go of it, you can expect a purchase from me and a Head-to-Head comparison of the two!

Check out exactly what my wife had to say about the Cavetto during our discussion.

5 thoughts on “Castle Watch Co Cavetto “Rustic Brass” – Detailed Review

  1. Seems like a decent mechanical alternative to minimal overpriced fashion brand watches *cough* DW *cough*.

    Definitely an interesting value prop.

    Dial is interesting enough. Kinda dislike the 4:00 date window, but that’s just personal preference.

    Sweet review!

    Like

    1. Definitely 1000% better than any of the branded Ali express choices out there, but until they sort out all the business stuff I doubt we’ll see another production run. At some point they have to cover the supposed loss they took on this run and they may be realizing that the only way to do that is to build that cost into future production.
      The waffle dial is definitely different… a little too 90s… and agreed on the date window, maybe that’s just where the date module was when the sourced the movements?
      Cheers, personally happy with new update, now only 3 more to go through before I can focus on new watches and video! 😂

      Like

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