The main purpose of the present work is to study the influence of current density, deposition mode and the presence of saccharin as an additive on the microstructure, sulfur content, grain size and microhardness of nanocrystalline Ni coatings. Towards this purpose, nanocrystalline nickel (Ni) coatings were deposited at various current densities in Watt's bath using direct, pulse and pulse reverse current (PRC) electrodeposition and subsequently characterized for sulfur content, grain size and hardness. It was observed that, the current density has no influence on the grain size/hardness of nanocrystalline Ni coatings in direct and pulsed current electrodeposition mode. However, the grain size increased from ~ 20 to ~ 200 nm with decrease in current density in PRC mode of deposition. In addition a substantial change in microstructure and texture of PRC Ni coatings was also evident. The experimental results have been rationalized based on the adsorption-desorption type of mechanism during electrodeposition. © 2016 Elsevier B.V..