Melbourne Portsea

In its relatively brief history, Sujain Krishnan's Melbourne Watch Company has proven to be remarkably disciplined. Since 2013, Melbourne has released five highly successful models and each successive watch has further developed what I would call their signature style: a mid-sized watch in a conservative style, embellished with rich texture and elegant detail. The Portsea captures this aesthetic perfectly. I fell for it the minute I saw the initial 3D renderings, but I only recently got to see one in person. Three actually. Sujain lent me a complete set to review.

Melbourne Watch Company Portsea

The Portsea was inspired by traditional marine chronometers, but that form has been reimagined as an everyday dress watch. The broad uncluttered dial, black Arabic numerals, and railroad index are all there, but with the addition of day and month sub-dials. A Miyota 9120 drives the watch. It is modified from a three register day/month/24 hour function with a 4-5 o'clock date window to the Portsea's triple calendar display with 6 o'clock date. The movement retains its hacking and hand-winding capabilities, 40 hour power reserve, and smooth 28.8k bph vibration rate. Day and date are set with the crown; the month is set by means of a recessed button at 2 o'clock. As is usually the case with such watches, no setting tool is provided. Before you jab it with a paper clip or ball point pen, I urge you to find a more suitable implement with that will not scratch the case if you slip. 

Melbourne Watch Company Portsea

The round stainless steel case is 40mm wide, 48mm long, and 12.5mm thick with curved, tapered lugs. These are healthy proportions, even in a world where 42mm cases are the norm. Three versions are available: polished steel or rose gold finishes with white dials, or steel with a navy blue dial. Smooth character lines create clear borders between the bezel, barrel, and lugs, breaking up the case and preventing the watch from appearing overly heavy. A modest bezel frames the flat sapphire crystal and large dial - and oh, what a dial it is.

Melbourne Watch Company Portsea

A railroad index occupies the outermost ring. This steps down to a ceramic overlay on which the numbers and registers are printed. The sub dials are rings connected to the same overlay and cut away, revealing a final, lower surface decorated with deep horizontal grooves that remind me of a sailboat's deck. It is a fitting theme for a marine watch. The effect of the elevated overlay is quite pronounced. It is much taller than the usual layered dial, so much so that at most angles, the rings appear to float. 

Melbourne Watch Company Portsea

With such dramatic architecture there is is no need for further splash, just subtle accents like the peaked blue index hands (silver on the blue dial) and the "M" counterweight on the second hand. The date window is just below the model name, mirroring the arrangement of the brand name and logo at the top of the dial. The hours are rendered in sans serif, the date, and all other text are a serif or script typeface, which reinforces the Portsea's old-world theme. Striking as it may be in its execution, the dial does not shout. Rather, the watch presents a tasteful, elegant face that reveals its secrets upon closer inspection. It is simply brilliant. 

Melbourne Watch Company Portsea

After lavishing such praise on the dial, you would think there would be little to say about the case back, but you would be wrong. Sujain went the extra mile on the flip side as well. It is embellished with a nautical crest sculpted in great detail and stamped in high relief. Like the layered dial, it is another pleasant surprise that increases the perception of quality. This heavy back plate is secured with four screws, which in conjunction with the sealed and signed push-pull crown, provides 100m water resistance. I would not recommend it for an America's Cup crew, but it should be more than sufficient for most semi-aquatic adventures. 

Melbourne Watch Company Portsea

The Portsea arrives on a lightly padded, crocodile-embossed leather strap with matching stitching and a signed buckle. It is attractive, comfortable, and fit even my smallish wrist. It is also 21mm wide at the lugs. I understand the desire to achieve the perfect proportion between case and lugs, and I know at a single millimeter makes a huge difference on a wristwatch, but would 20mm really have been so bad? It is hardly a deal-breaker, but I do enjoy swapping straps and odd sizes are not exactly plentiful.

Melbourne Watch Company Portsea

On the wrist, the Portsea stands neatly astride the dress and casual camps. I liked all the color combinations although I did find the silver hands on the blue dial were harder to read in low light than the high contrast blue-on-white. The mid-sized, polished case and classicly stylish design pair easily with a suit and tie, but the clear, prominent dial and sturdy thickness of the case make it an easy companion on the weekends as well. Indeed, the watch is all about balance. The symmetry of elements on the dial, the rings seemingly suspended in mid-air, and the proportions of the case and dial achieve a delicate equilibrium; it attains a mid-point by perching on a peak, not by stooping to mediocrity. 

Melbourne Watch Company Portsea

At current exchange rates, the steel Portsea lists for $587.37 USD, the gold for $605.56. The white dials are out of stock, but Melbourne has a pre-order sale on the next batch so you can get the white/gold for $485.06 and the white/steel for $469. The watch is well priced at list, but The Bum likes a bargain, so I would recommend snapping up the sale price while you can. 

Pro: Beautiful detail, flawless execution.
Con: Navy dial can be difficult to read in low light, odd strap width. 
Sum: The best Melbourne yet. The Time Bum enthusiastically approves. 

[Update: Sujain tells me the new batch of Portseas will have 20mm lugs.]

Melbourne Watch Company Portsea
Melbourne Watch Company Portsea
Melbourne Watch Company Portsea





Share:
© The Time Bum | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig