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A Finnish Japanese AndoAndoAndo A-1 Automatic Microbrand Watch Review | VARIO

I first got to know Yu Ando, a Japanese reviewer living in Finland, through his reviews of VARIO watches and accessories. As fellow watch enthusiasts, we began to stay in touch regularly. Needless to say, when he let me know he was working on a watch of his own, I was excited and encouraged him to go for it – thrilled to see what he would come up with. My first impression when he revealed his design? Minimalist Scandinavian and uncluttered modern industrial Japanese design.

To be concise, I loved it and reach out for it very often when I open my watch box in the morning.

a-1 automatic watch

I think it’s better I jump straight into what you’re here for, so let me introduce you to the AndoAndoAndo (AAA) A-1 Automatic, which consists of four colorways. I had the fortune of checking out all 4 variants and getting the first pick before sending the three remaining colorways to other reviewers.

aaa automatic watch

The asymmetrical A-1 is a relatively small watch at 37 mm x 42 mm x 11mm, with its most striking feature being the case – a cylinder offset in a rectangular frame. This kind of asymmetrical shape reminds me of Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Seikos but according to Yu, his inspiration was actually Étienne-Louis Boullée's Cénotaphe à Newton. The A-1 exudes a neo-futuristic industrial look and would be at home on the wrist of a character in the Matrix or Blade Runner.

Ando’s case shape was a practical choice as well as a stylistic one, as he doesn’t much like watch crowns digging into his wrist. By moving the dial left, the rectangular frame serves as a crown guard and eliminates the possibility of the crown digging into the wearer’s skin. The small signed crown is not the most accessible compared with traditional crowns but provides sufficient traction for setting and winding.

AAA watch with vario graphic

aaa watch

A-1 Automatic watch on Vario Graphic watch strap


On the wrist, the watch feels tall on my small wrist even though the case is a modest 11mm, because there are no curvatures or chamfers. As a designer I can appreciate the design choice for those clean lines, but as a dress watch lover, I would really love to see Yu using a Miyota 9 series movement for this watch to make it slimmer in a more upscale iteration. For movement, Ando chose the reliable Seiko NH36A automatic, which enthusiasts can view through an exhibition mineral case back. Water resistance is 50m, which is perfectly sufficient for daily wear.

aaa watch

aaa a-1 watch with vario leather strap

A-1 Automatic watch on Vario distressed Italian leather watch strap

Turning the watch around, you’ll immediately understand why I said Yu’s watch is minimalist. Polished baton hands, no minute track, day and date (English/Japanese), and no text or logo on the dial. This is mesmerizingly clean, but definitely not bland. The 2-layer sandwich dial that displays a bright layer of SuperLuminova sandblasted texture sees to that. Here, I have a tiny nitpick based on personal preference. I thought thicker hour hands a la the Riki Watanabe treatment would also look great. The flat sapphire crystal allows you to observe the dial clearly.

The minimalist cues flow through to the black quick-release leather strap that shows off its natural leather texture, black stitching and a matching signed buckle as part of the branding.

aaa watch

The AndoAndoAndo A-1 comes in four variants: the black/black, silver/silver, silver case with black/silver dial (“black donut”), and a black case with a silver/black dial (“white donut”). All are sandblasted for a matte finish.

If you’re looking for more variety and happen to be handy with changing dials and hands on watches, then I have great news. Yu is in the process of making the cases available as a stand-alone purchase for persons who want to personalize their watches with the many 28.5mm dials and NH-compatible hands available to the modding community. My favorite I’ve seen thus far has got to be this Japanese paper dial by @zakkamonostudio

I don’t collect watch boxes and rarely mention them in reviews, but the A-1’s packaging is exceptional and definitely worth a second look. The watch and strap sit securely inside a sandwich of dense cardboard, the top layer of which contains all the key information. This slides into an outer sleeve decorated with a technical drawing of the watch. It is very clever and environmentally friendly.

a-1 automatic watch

The distinct shape and modern appeal make this a fun watch to wear. Each model is limited to 100 pieces, so do grab them before they sell out. I’m lucky to have one in my collection and I'll be looking forward to check out their next release.

Website (for more info): https://andoandoando.com/

ABOUT ANDOANDOANDO WATCHES

Yu was always interested in creating, designing and writing about things. His passion for designing was ignited when he was involved in several design related projects both in Japan and Finland so he started to design his own watch and went into production in 2021 and thus AndoAndoAndo was born.

Written by Ivan Chua

Disclaimer: This watch was sent to me to review, but I was not incentivized in any way to make this review. This is in no way sponsored by Rogue Watches or any other entity. All opinions here are my own.

Shop our full range of Vario's Italian leather watch strap
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