Reviewed: Anthony James Skeleton Dress Watch

Every now and then we actually buy a watch online to review it, so you don’t have to. Nah, we ain’t got Rolex money lying around in Batcoin, so instead we review cheaper Ali Express and budget models.

So, ever heard of Anthony James? Nope, we hadn’t either, but a Secret Sale email promised us a rosy gold plated skeleton watch with 80% off the RRP or something. So yep, at £37 including post, we clicked on the bait.


You get a box, which is nice. It isn’t a great quality box, with a little cushion inside, plus an Anthony James guarantee  card, but to be fair, some budget watches have no box.

You also get a little tag tied round the watch as well, just for that quality vibe. Generally the watch feels OK, nice and smooth, with a see-thru caseback, flat mineral crystal.


Then you realise the bracelet is too long, so you get your link adjustment tools out.

Now you discover that this watch has never been on sale at 600 quid anywhere. The link pins and the clasp are cheaply made, finish is poor, the pins required a light hammer time session to budge.  They did not want to go back in either.

If you don’t have a vice with a flat surface, plus a small hammer, and experience fitting/removing watch links, then I suggest you shop elsewhere. This watch is not designed for easy adjustment.

Yeah, any jeweller should be able to do this job, but many will send it away because once you look at the problem, you just think…all this pi**ing about for a tenner? Nah.

If you look at the clasp you can see that things don’t align 100% true. Crown feels nice to turn though.


Probably Chinese. In fact, yeah, non-specific, bargain level Chinese, which you can get going by winding the watch. It has a decent looking rotor, bit of gold plating here n there. But some other details inside the caseback look a bit poor, badly finished metalwork basically.

The mainspring seems to housed in an open barrel, with just a few strategic bits of bridge work stopping it escaping under tension. In theory, no dust should get inside, but I can’t see how watch oil around the mainspring winding column isn’t going to dry out.

Which should ruin the mainspring as effectively as an open wheel bearing on a Transit van.

Note mainspring under tension when fully wound, not a sealed unit as in most watches but a bit of a convertible roof.

OK, I tested it by fully winding it, then wore it all day. It ran continously for the next 28 hours, timekeeping matched  my smartphone too. Impressive, I have to say.


It has a 40mm case excluding the crown, with a height of 12.8mm. It feels just right for my slim wrist and once I forced the clasp home onto its little spigot, then the bracelet felt secure enough. Just stiff with new-ness I reckon.


This is an OK value watch for £37.  I mean, you don’t find many automatics at under fifty quid anywhere. Yes, it will most likely run for a few years without trouble and it has a certain Meccano-esque appeal, with all its guts on show. But the bracelet feels really poorly finished, the clasp in particular feels rough cast. Not nice.

Compared to the Black Bay look-a-like from Ali Express, or the Paulareis turquoise auto I bought recently, this one doesn’t offer any real advantage, despite being almost twice the price.


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