Sometimes homage watches go too far and end up being a poor imitation. On occasion a manufacturer gets it just right and provides enough uniqueness to pay a respectable tribute to the original. The Pagani Design PD-1651 is one of those latter timepieces. It’s a clear homage to the Rolex Yachtmaster mixed with some Submariner influences (although they ironically call it the Pagani Explorer). I’ve worn this watch every day for around 3 weeks, and happy to say I’m delighted with it. For those who haven’t purchased off Ali Express before, products can typically be a lottery in terms of QC and specification issues. Many come with scratches, broken watch pins, wrong colour and other issues that should be picked up during standard quality control and dispatch (I refer in general and not specifically Pagani Design’s timepieces). On my unit, it was pleasantly blemish free except for a misaligned bracelet link.
- Movement: Automatic self-winding (Seiko SN35)
- Case diameter: 40mm
- Case thickness: 13mm
- Case material: Stainless steel
- Strap type: Bracelet (3-link)
- Clasp: Deployment with safety catch
- Lug width: 20mm
- Lume: Yes (markers and hands)
- Crystal: Synthetic sapphire glass
- Water resistance: 100m
- Weight: 154G
The watch houses an automatic self-winding movement, the Seiko NH35. This is regarded as a decent entry level movement. Its accuracy is within -20 ~ +40 seconds per day, with a 41 hour power reserve. As I have stated previously, the accuracy of these models can vary widely even using this movement, and if you are buying these watches expecting high levels of time-keeping then I think you may be disappointed. Any quartz watch will destroy the accuracy of these cheaper automatic movements,
DIAL, CRYSTAL AND BEZEL
A sunburst mixed-colour dial gives the watch a subtle presentation. The top half of the dial fades into a mid blue at various angles (the bottom half remains black). All markers are lumed along with the hands (which glow a bluish hue at night when charged with sufficient sunlight). I personally like the text on the dial; it seems appropriate and not over-the-top. A synthetic sapphire crystal protects the face, rendering it highly scratch resistant. The watch dial is framed in a relief bezel, coloured in a dark grey with highly reflective black markers. I think it’s an aluminium alloy as touching it does not feel ceramic and Pagani do not mention it’s material on the listing. While not amazing, aesthetically it does a respectable job and contributes to the overall sophisticated appearance of the watch. Bezel action, conversely, is quite poor; moving the mono-directional component feels scratchy and inconsistent, but if you never use the bezel function, this won’t really matter.
BRACELET AND CLASP
The bracelet is superb, probably the most outstanding feature of the timepiece. I write this without exaggeration. It’s one of the best 3-link bracelets that has ever sat on my wrist (even beating some watches 5-10x its price!). It’s a completely solid link (incl end links) machined bracelet, tapering from 20mm at the lugs into a milled deployment clasp with safety catch. The centre links are polished, while the outers are brushed. The clasp operation is smooth, crisp and secure, locking together with a satisfying ‘click’. Swing arms are made from thick gauge steel, with a similarly robust clasp shell. Links are secured with screw pins, and are fairly large in size (making bracelet resizing extremely easy). I tested all the screws and none were busted on my unit (this commonly happens on some cheap Ali Express watches). Some reviewers are critical of bracelets that taper significantly; I disagree, I actually prefer bracelets that have a taper because I want the clasp to be less obtrusive to improve the comfort of the watch. I therefore have no issue with the taper on this bracelet and think it works very well.
On my just over 7″/18cm wrists, the watch ‘disappears’ throughout the day. The fairly substantial weight of 154g is counterbalanced by the excellent comfort of the bracelet, which allows it to sit snug but not aggravate the wrist. I removed 2 links and keep it on the first micro-adjust setting. They’ve paid a really close tribute to Rolex’s Oyster bracelet, and produced a near-unbeatable bracelet for the price (save the clasp adjustment that could be massively improved, see below). As I have come to realise, comfort trumps everything when it comes to watch bracelets and if it cannot disappear on the wrist, it’s unlikely to get much wrist time.
The only downside to the bracelet is the poor micro-adjustment function. There are 3 micro-adjust notches on the clasp, but moving between them requires fiddling with a spring-bar, which I found to be messy and ugly. It is possible to get a good adjustment though, so this is a minor downside. However, it would definitely benefit from a sliding adjustment feature (akin the Rolex Glidelock), but that might be asking too much at this price point. Let’s see what Pagani do in the future regarding this obvious weak-point.
Being a homage watch I can’t really give Pagani Design much credit for the design, but nevertheless they’ve created an aesthetically pleasing synthesis with enough unique touches to separate it from the timepieces that have inspired it. Its overall design is functional with no obvious shortcomings at its price point (save the micro-adjust feature), and its size and and bracelet integration is appropriate and fits very well on the wrist. The date-window magnifier offers excellent magnification (I would guess above 2x)
Let’s be honest, it’s difficult to find entry-level watches that have the specification of this Pagani Design model (provided the manufacturer’s stated spec is correct – the next Pagani model I review definitely does not fully meet the spec). It is quite incredible that for less than £70 (the price frequently fluctuates mind), I can get 100m water resistance, stainless steel case, solid end-link tapering bracelet with deployment clasp, sunburst dial with relief bezel, sapphire crystal, full lume and an automatic movement. The beautifully machined solid link bracelet and clasp alone destroys much of the competition below £1000 (it really does)! So in the bang-for-buck department, it screams value and does this exceptionally well (5 out of 5 for value).
Of course the longevity and durability of the overall watch construction have not been tested by me as this will only become apparent with time. Other reviewers have confirmed the crystals are synthetic sapphire though, and the bracelet is certainly solid with solid end links and large screw-pins. I would say as long as you get a blemish-free model (complain straight back to Pagani if you have any issues for them to sort), then I’m fairly certain you will be happy with the purchase.
I bought it direct from the Pagani Design shop on Ali Express, but it’s possible to buy from third party UK sellers for more on eBay. I would recommend ordering directly from Pagani off Ali Express, and they did offer a choice of countries (Czech or China, mine was delivered in a around 5 days from Czech).
- Class-beating 3-link bracelet and deployment clasp w/ safety
- Sunburst dial
- Synthetic sapphire crystal
- Fully lumed hands and markers
- 40mm diameter size
- Entry level but acceptable automatic movement
- Price point makes it fantastic value
- Poor micro-adjust mechanism
- Bezel not ceramic
- Bracelet scratches fairly easily
The PD-1651 is a fantastic homage and incredible value for the price, with a class-beating bracelet and 100m water resistance (the 3-link bracelet is superior to many watches 10x its price). A great beater watch that could work in a smart-casual business environment, to shorts and t-shirt on the beach. I’m glad I purchased it and it won’t be leaving my collection any time soon! Next to review will be the Pagani PD-1639 which is a Rolex Submariner ‘Smurf’ homage watch.
If you would like to purchase you can do from Ali Express: https://www.aliexpress.com/item/4000803190708.html?spm=a2g0o.productlist.0.0.50c463bcwmCbxL&algo_pvid=13654ed8-c1fa-4a34-a6a3-893d00fb3026&algo_expid=13654ed8-c1fa-4a34-a6a3-893d00fb3026-0&btsid=0b0a050b15957815307824117e2580&ws_ab_test=searchweb0_0,searchweb201602_,searchweb201603_