For most, especially people from the United States, the name “Nixon” sends far from great vibes. To this day, the 37th president of the US is considered one of the worst to have ever “graced” the White House.
With that said, a team of bold entrepreneurs and watch enthusiasts decided to use the infamous name for their brand to try and change the bad connection most folks seem to have with it.
Over two decades later, can we say they’ve succeeded in their mission?
Certainly, as far as the watch sector is concerned (Nixon also offers other fashion-related products), the brand seems to be enjoying a year-on-year growth in popularity and sales not only in the US but globally. What seems to distinguish Nixon timepieces from other fashion watch brands in the market is their robustness and unique look.
So, is Nixon a good watch brand? While at the first glance everything points to a resounding “YES”, in order to establish the quality it provides, we need to learn how it stacks up against competitors in a similar price basket in terms of the quality of materials, durability, and accuracy.
But first, let’s learn about the company’s background.
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Nixon History & Background
Because of such a short presence in the market, the history section of the Nixon brand is probably one of if not the shortest we’ve covered so far on Timepieceking.
Nixon was founded in 1997 by two watch aficionados with a flair for business, Andy Laats and Chad DiNenn. The duo’s mission was to offer good-looking, robust timepieces that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.
From the very get-go, Nixon watches were designed with outdoor enthusiasts in mind although in recent years their offer has been slightly more diversified. It now also includes other fashion accessories, such as bags, belts, wallets, or even clothing.
Nixon’s ownership has been anything but stable, transitioning from independent to licensed brand and back in less than a decade. Nixon became a Billabong-owned brand in December 2006, only to revert to being an independent brand six years later.
Despite the turbulences, Nixon watches embody the founders’ ideals and visions to this day – and that is an approach that appeals both to fashionistas and sports lovers.
Is Nixon a Good Brand? Nixon Watch Quality Review
There’s little to zero doubt that Nixon watches easily turn heads.
With that said, even brands listed at 20% of Nixon watches’ cost can offer eye-grabbing looks but fail to deliver in what is arguably the most important aspect of any watchmaker – durability.
So, are Nixon watches good quality and long-lasting? To settle the matter, we have to look at the quality of materials used to assemble the timepieces.
Finally, the importance of reliable and accurate movements can’t be overlooked.
Naturally, we also have to stay realistic. While evaluating all of the above we need to keep in mind that Nixon is a low-to-mid budget brand and we shouldn’t expect master craftsmanship like in the case of some of the most renowned names in the industry.
Without further ado, let’s move on to the quality review of Nixon watches.
As a result, their timepieces are more of a fashion statement than collectibles. The US fashion industry was undergoing a transformation about the time Nixon watches were released, driven by a desire for a showy, status-signaling style. As a result, the creators tried to cash in on the trend by positioning Nixon as the go-to brand for a modern yet cheap appearance.
We will have a closer look at the various styles offered by Nixon timepieces further down the article.
It’s only fair to begin with having a look at the most damage-prone part of timepieces.
At present, the vast majority of watch models utilize mineral crystals for protection against cracks and scratches. It’s comforting that none of the products – even at the lower end of the pricing table – come with acrylic dial windows. Mineral crystal is the standard glass type amongst all watchmakers in this price range.
What’s more, a small group of high-end Nixon watch models offers the best and most durable crystal in the form of sapphire. However, these models can set you back $1,000+. An example of such a watch is the Ceramic Player.
You can select from four types of case materials.
- polycarbonate (plastic) – durable, lightweight, and immune to corrosion. It comes in many different color variations
- stainless steel – akin to other watchmakers, Nixon’s most frequently used case material is stainless steel. It’s extremely tough-to-beat but also easy on the eye. The form of stainless steel used with Nixon watches is 316L
- titanium – lighter and tougher than stainless steel but more prone to stains. Used with Nixon’s high-end models
- ceramic – probably the most premium type. Despite being super light, immune to corrosion and highly scratch-resistant, it can crack more easily than any of the above types. Similar to titanium, it’s used in the more pricey models
In terms of the bracelets, all four materials used with cases apply here as well.
Additionally, some models oscillating in the dressy spectrum come with leather bands. These are without a doubt the most elegant but also the most fragile.
With a strong sports background, it’s no surprise some of the Nixon timepieces offer excellent water resistance capabilities.
Lately, Nixon has released its most capable dive watch to date – Chrono 51-30. With “51” standing for the oversized case and “30” for the impressive 30ATM waterproofness, the timepiece can easily rival more renowned Seiko’s or Citizen’s dive watches.
With that said, the waterproofing standard will depend on the type of watch and its purpose. As far as Nixon watches go, the options are as follows:
- 3ATM/30m – in other words, splashproof. The rating mostly relates to dressy watches
- 5ATM/50m – suitable for swimming in shallow waters
- 10ATM/100m – fine for surfing and rafting. A popular model in this range is Nixon Base Tido Pro, as featured on our list of best surf watches
- 20ATM/200m – suitable for professional marine surface activity, ie. scuba diving
- 30ATM/300m – suitable for diving at depth (in a non-helium-rich environment)
All Nixon watches, as long as they’re purchased from an authorized dealer/seller, come with a 2-year warranty. The 24-month duration is pretty much a standard amongst most watchmakers.
The guarantee relates to defects in materials and workmanship and naturally doesn’t work with any damage caused to the watch by your own negligence.
If you value unbeatable accuracy, it makes perfect sense to go for a battery-powered (quartz) model. Nixon watches, whether digital or analog, utilize Japanese quartz movements which are considered the go-to type for optimal battery performance. These mechanisms provide excellent accuracy of +/- 15 seconds/month.
On the other hand, automatic movements are favored by watch collectors all around the world. If you’re one of them, you know what to do.
Purchasing an automatic watch is a way to honor the history and art of exquisite watchmaking. Although automatic watches eliminate the need for a battery, they are nowhere near as accurate as quartz counterparts. That is especially true when it comes to affordable brands like Nixon. Although Nixon’s automatic calibers come from popular manufacturers from Japan and Switzerland, they’re still likely to lose/gain between 30-45 seconds daily.
Considering the pricing of these watches, there’s not much to point a finger at, really.
Nixon Watch Collections
While at the beginning of the brand’s journey the style of timepieces was pretty unified, nowadays the Nixon watch collection is a bit more diverse.
Nixon groups its watches into 5 categories: classic, digital, chronograph, oversized, and automatic. We have picked 1 best-selling model from each group to give you a better idea of what to expect from modern-day Nixon.
Nixon Time Teller (Classic)
If there’s one model that most aficionados associate with Nixon, it’s the Time Teller. The watch belongs to the Classic line and is one of the best-selling products of Nixon’s entire offer.
The Time Teller was designed to feature a classic style with a contemporary twist, modeled after timepieces that were passed down from generation to generation. It’s available in more than a few variations. The one we appreciate the most, however, is the gold-tone stainless steel model with a head-turning green face you see below.
All Time Teller models allow for interchangeable straps, making it even easier to customize the look. The collection runs exclusively on Japanese quart mechanisms, ensuring excellent accuracy.
Although the casing is relatively small (37mm), the lugs are quite massive, hence the Time Teller might wear a bit bigger than the diameter suggests.
All models in the collection are equipped with 10ATM/100m water resistance.
Nixon Regulus (Digital)
Nixon digital watch collection is mostly known for its Regulus line.
Regulus watches are ultra-durable, arguably the toughest-to-beat Nixon products released to date. In fact, they’ve been built with the help of U.S. Special Operations personnel. Because of their robust construction, they’re the go-to solution for folks operating in testing environments, such as EMTs, firefighters, or construction workers.
The Regulus collection is divided into three mini-lines: Regulus, Regulus Expedition, and Regulus Stainless Steel. The model you see below is the standard Regulus version.
It comes with a fairly large 46mm case made of polycarbonate. The strap is made from the same material. The digital LCD display of the watch is protected by durable mineral crystal glass.
All Regulus models are resistant to shocks and water (up to 100m). Unlike most of their analog counterparts, Nixon Regulus is equipped with some extra features such as chronograph timers, 3 independent alarms, and a silent mode that keeps you stealthy.
Nixon Chrono 51-30 (Chronograph)
In the last few years, Nixon started enriching their offer with chronograph watches. To this day, by far the most potent and best-selling model is 51-30 Chrono which you see below.
The watch can serve many purposes. Because of its stylish all-stainless steel design, it’s a great piece to wear daily. The chronograph function makes it an excellent sports timepiece. And finally, the outstanding 30ATM/300m water resistance rating means the watch is a safe companion during surfing or scuba diving.
The name “Chrono 51-30” doesn’t come out of the blue, either. Chrono stands for the three chronograph timers, “51” for the massive case diameter and “30” for the impressive water-resistance rating.
To avoid “wrist bite” during vigorous use, the crown and pushers are positioned on the 9 o’clock side of the case rather than the 3 o’clock side. The model features an analog countdown timer with a unidirectional rotating bezel and a six-hand chronograph with subdials for the 24hr and second timers.
Nixon Corporal (Oversized)
If you’re a fan of large casings, Nixon Corporal is a great alternative to the above-discussed Chrono 51-30.
The watch is available in more than 10 design variations. We found the stylish combination of black & khaki too good not to be included here.
Although the case is larger than in a lion’s share of Nixon models, it’s not as massive as in the Chrono 51-30. It measures 48mm in diameter and is made from stainless steel. Both the case and the 3-link stainless steel bracelet sport a black ion finish.
One of the standout elements of this series is the raised bezel that boosts the protection of the recessed mineral crystal.
The three hands, out of which the two for hours and minutes are luminescent, point to Arab numerals.
Nixon Corporal watches are powered by Japanese quartz calibers manufactured by Miyota which are one of the more reliable in this price basket. With a 10ATM/100m water resistance, they’re also a safe companion for use in water.
Nixon Spectra (Automatic)
Last but not least, there’s something in store for those who value the complexity and craft of automatic watches.
The automatic collection, mostly powered by Japanese calibers, is constantly growing due to high demand. We’ve decided to select the most affordable watch from the line, Nixon Spectra, as its proud representative.
Due to the skeleton face design, the watch is probably one of the most head-turning models offered by Nixon at this time. The transparent part of the dial allows you to peek at the intricate workings of the automatic movement and is a huge incentive for those who value a unique, somewhat vintage look. What’s worth noting, the caseback is also see-through.
The gold-tone model you see below is all stainless steel. The case has a diameter of 40mm while the bracelet consists of 5 links.
The pitch-black dial, easily the most unique part of the model, has a centrally-located window displaying the mechanisms of the movement. It also includes gold-tone hour and minute hands and a black second hand which point to gold-tone baton indexes. All elements glow in the dark.
The watch is powered by Japanese automatic movement in the form of Miyota 82S0. It’s a 21-jewel caliber with a 40-hour power reserve and an accuracy of -20/+40 seconds per day.
Where Are Nixon Watches Made?
Although Nixon is a US-based brand, the manufacturing process doesn’t take place in the States.
So one might wonder, who makes Nixon watches? And, are Nixon watches made in China?
Like many other watchmakers in the same price category, Nixon uses trusted factories in Asia, particularly China, to assemble the timepieces. “Assemble” is the keyword here.
As stated earlier, arguably the most crucial part of watches, the movements, are either Swiss or Japanese. None of the calibers are Chinese – which is essential.
Other elements such as cases and straps are indeed produced in Asia, however.
Who Owns Nixon Watches?
At the time of writing, Nixon is once again an independent brand.
That wasn’t always the case.
As mentioned in the history section earlier, Billabong International acquired the brand earlier. After the $55 million takeover in 2006, the enterprise had the ownership of Nixon for 6 years, finally handing the brand back to Nixon again in the spring of 2012.
How to Tell If a Nixon Watch Is Real?
Nixon is a brand already known well enough for the web to be filled with counterfeit products.
Granted, the number of replicas might not be as “impressive” as that of G-Shocks or Rolexes. However, paying over the odds for a fake product is far from an impossible scenario.
While spotting a replica without getting a feel of the watch in real life is a challenge, you can take a few steps to minimize the chance of buying one.
- The first obvious thing to do is to check whether the watch you’re considering buying is also available on Nixon’s official website. If it is, make sure to check whether the color, size and mechanisms match. Also, pay special attention to the font used with the Nixon label.
- Next, compare the price of the model you want to buy on an alternative website/marketplace with the cost of the same model on Nixon’s official site. Unless there’s a massive sale going on (ie. Black Friday), the difference in price shouldn’t exceed 20-30%. Anything more than this should ring a bell.
- Verifying whether the website you’re shopping at is an authorized dealer of Nixon watches also helps. Unfortunately, Nixon’s website lists only authorized physical stores so you will have to do your own research.
- If you’ve already received your order, pay attention to the packaging. Each new and legit Nixon timepiece comes with a Nixon-labeled box and with a user manual. Inside you should also find extra links and pins.
- Last but not least, all real Nixon watches come with a serial number engraved on the caseback. If the watch doesn’t have one, it’s without a doubt counterfeit. And if it has it and you still have doubts, you can call Nixon’s customer service to check whether the serial number is legitimate.
Where to Buy Nixon Watches?
Taking the above-mentioned precautions is a great way of avoiding the purchase a counterfeit Nixon watch. However, the risk of this happening is the smallest when shopping at trusted online destinations.
The first obvious choice is Nixon’s official website. All the newest releases appear first on Nixon.com. The site offers free shipping on most orders within the United States.
The selection of legit Nixon watch models is also huge on Amazon. The popular marketplace offers competitive prices and same-day shipping on most products.
Alternatively, Jomashop is an authorized dealer of Nixon and has plenty of good deals rocking about.
If you don’t mind pre-owned products, have a look on eBay. Some second-hand watches can be snatched at 30% of the original price.
Last but not least, you can read our guide to the best online watch shops for more ideas.
Are Nixon Watches Expensive?
Nixon is an excellent example of a reliable low-to-mid budget watchmaker.
Some of the lower-priced models, such as this Time Teller or the Comp S plastic-made series, can be snatched for way below $100. On the other hand, there are also some high-end watches that can set you back $500+. An example of such is Chrono 51-30.
Is Nixon a Luxury Watch Brand?
While it’s fair to say that many Nixon timepieces look way above their price tag, it would be unrealistic to classify the US brand as a luxury watchmaker.
Nixon mainly appeals to younger customers with brightly colored timepieces that are robustly constructed but don’t normally use materials with the “luxury” tag, such as real gold, diamonds, or other precious stones. Also, the complexity of Nixon’s movements is nowhere near that of the biggest sharks of the industry.
However, the brand produces several elegant items that would raise doubts about whether it was Nixon or not; you may even see a cultured guy wearing one to one of his crucial business meetings.
Nixon Watches Review: Conclusion
If you’ve been considering getting your first timepiece from the US brand, we hope that today’s review of Nixon watches has provided you with enough clues on whether it’s worth your money.
Summing up, is Nixon a good watch brand?
Any different answer than a “yes” would be rather unfair. Despite operating in the fashion watch sector – one that is probably most frowned upon by experienced watch enthusiasts – the US company delivers timepieces that provide really solid value.
Oscillating in the low-to-mid budget sector, Nixon delivers everything expected of watchmakers in this price category – and sometimes more.
The vast majority of watch models are made from reliable materials and use respected calibers from Japan and Switzerland.
While the brand specializes mostly in robust and adventure-ready timekeepers, the last few years have seen a bigger diversification of Nixon’s portfolio with the addition of more dressy and feminine watches. Catering to many tastes can only be a good thing.
Final Say: If our Nixon watches review has helped you make a decision (whatever that is!), we’re glad. You can use the comment section below to share your own view and experiences with the US brand. Let’s interact!