You know what the world needs now? I know what you're thinking, "Love, sweet love," and, yes, you and Burt Bacharach are right; however, I was thinking "1970's inspired watches." They were playing with some great designs back then; creative, envelope-pushing designs rich in color and shape. Granted, they weren't all winners, but there is so much material to draw upon that would look fresh and new today. Every time I see a new Submariner style diver, Panerai clone, or (God help us) "minimalist" watch, I wonder why more microbrands haven't tapped into the expressive concepts of the Me Generation. Some have already found this muse, like Chris Vail's Lew & Huey Spectre, Chip Yuen's Aevig Valkyr, Stephan Trimbos's Stuckx Bull, and Kyle Schut's Curve-Chrono. The latest micro to boogie on back is Doug Kim's Manchester Watch Works, whose new project, the Equinox, borrows elements from two 1970's Omegas. He provided a blue dial prototype for review.
The Equinox has its roots in the Omega Genève Dynamic, a slim, oval cased automatic that has long held a special place in my heart. Doug started sketching his version of that watch's "eyeball" dial, which soon evolved into a layout closer to the geometric, yet equally groovy, Omega Constellation Megaquartz. He ultimately settled on a circular index with long markers and a 6 o'clock date window inside a rectangular case with bowed sides, as if the pronounced ring was pushing the walls of its frame. All of the branding and text is kept within this ring, so there isn't much of it. Just the MWW name and logo up top, and "Automatic" at the bottom in a slightly elongated and lightweight font, which (and I admit, this is a nitpick) makes "MWW" appear blocky in comparison. Polished baton hands and a wedge-shaped, "speedometer needle" second hand echo those of the Dynamic. There are only two colors available: black with a light blue second hand, and royal blue with an orange second hand. Both dials have a sun ray effect. It is a lovely dial that is equally striking at night when the BGW9 SuperLuminova pops to life.
The dial is set deep below a flat mineral crystal in a brushed stainless steel case. Micro brand buyers have come to expect sapphire as a matter of course, but that gets tricky when you have to cut a custom shape. Mineral keeps the cost down. The display case back is also mineral, secured with four screws. A sturdy, signed crown at 3 o'clock screws down, contributing to the watch's respectable 100m water resistance. I appreciate the crown's function, but I do wish it were slightly shorter. Its size and shape would be better suited to a tool watch than the more fashion-forward Equinox.
The case measures 37mm wide, 43mm long, and just 11mm thick. Rounded corners, a polished and beveled edge, and a fine channel surrounding the case edge all help break up what might otherwise be an imposing block of steel, but it is still a substantial watch. I had no issues wearing it on my 6.5" wrist, even with a suit, but I do wish it had a little curvature to its case back for a closer fit on the wrist. It's by no means oversized by modern standards, but it wears much bigger than its vintage counterparts. One important note: the circular brushing on the prototype was a factory error. Production watches will have the correct north-south brushing. This is a relief because everyone who has touched the watch has tried to wipe it off!
A Seiko NH35 peeks through the case back. This 24 jewel, 21.6k bph automatic hacks and hand winds with a 40h-our power reserve. It's a quality unit, beloved by many a micro. The rotor was unadorned on the sample but will be signed with the Manchester Watch Works mountain logo when done.
The sample arrived on a leather-backed, tapered, black carbon fiber strap. Its 20mm lugs are hidden under the case. It's a nice choice for the Equinox, appearing at once edgy and neatly tailored. Using cutting-edge materials like this was very much the trend in the early-70's. In that way, the carbon fiber harkens back to the Omega Dynamic's original Corfam synthetic straps. While I like the strap, I keep imagining this watch on a bracelet. Yes, I know it would have been more expensive, but custom links that repeated the boxy case shape would have been an ideal complement. I am quite sure more than a few future owners will experiment with aftermarket options. Mesh is an obvious choice, but I'd try an Oyster.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Equinox. Doug's clever merger of retro cues and modern design sensibilities has created a refreshing watch that stands apart from the crowd. It is an attractive proposition made even more enticing by its value. Manchester Watch Works prices its products very aggressively, and this watch is no exception. Look for pre-order pricing to start under $200, which is outstanding in and of itself - but wait, it gets better. Time Bum readers can an extra 15% off of any watch any watch at ManchesterWatchWorks.com with the code TIMEBUM15.
The Equinox will launch later this year, and I, for one, will be waiting.
Pro: Fabulous style.
Con: Feels thicker than it is.