Melbourne Watch Co. Sorrento and Collins

It's no secret that The Time Bum is a fan of Sujain Krishnan's Melbourne Watch Company.  When I reviewed the Flinders in 2014, I called it "an impressive watch from a talented newcomer." Three years later, Sujain is no longer a newcomer, Melbourne Watch is a well-established brand, and the line consists of 8 distinct models. For this review, Sujain loaned me two new and very different watches, the Collins and the Sorrento.
Melbourne Watch Co. Sorrento and Collins


The Collins

The Collins is named for Melbourne's tony Collins Street, so it is appropriately a traditional men's dress watch, mid-sized and slim, with a clean, simple layout of polished baton markers and dauphine hands. The review sample is a three-hand Miyota 9015 automatic, the specifications of which should be familiar to micro brand fans: 24 jewels, 28.8k bph, 40+ hour power reserve. The company also offer a slightly sportier moon phase model running a Miyota 6P80 quartz. 


It is a quietly attractive watch. The stainless steel case is just 38mm wide, which in The Time Bum's humble opinion, is about as large as a dress watch needs to be. I know 40mm seems to be the new standard, and I've owned a few myself, but while I have no reservations about wearing them with a suit, I will always reach for a smaller watch for strictly formal occasions. The Collins fits the bill perfectly, slipping discreetly under your cuff, and presenting itself with just the glint off its polished case and the shimmer of its dark blue sunray dial. Overall height is just a touch under 10mm (9.7mm to be precise). The case has flat sides, but a step at the bezel and a bevel on the back make it appear even slimmer. 


As I've seen Melbourne's other watches, Sujain sweats the details like the applied and polished dots that top each marker, the beveled date window frame, and the serif typeface on the white-on-black date wheel that coordinates with that of the company's logo and fancy script model name. Of course, the watch sports the "M" tail on its second hand. A display case back shows the neatly finished movement including Geneva striped bridges and a signed rotor with a frosted edge. 

Given its elegant appearance, the Collins is a tougher than you might think. It is rated for 50m water resistance, which should be more than sufficient for its intended use. A flat sapphire crystal provides high scratch resists. Its knobby, signed crown is significantly larger than that of many other similarly sized dress watches. I wouldn't call it disproportionate, but I would have preferred a lower profile and a finer coin edge. 


There was no doubt the Collins would fit me well. My 6.5" wrist happily accommodated this modestly sized piece. The 18mm navy blue strap is padded alligator print leather terminating in an attractive signed buckle. It's mighty stiff out of the box, and the padding impedes its flexibility, so it will likely take a few week of wear before you find it truly comfortable. 

In the end, the Collins is a lovely watch that suffers from its conservatism. It has little wrong with it, but its $509 USD price tag puts it in a crowded field of competitors.


The Sorrento 

Now, this watch certainly does not suffer from over-familiarity. A dress-diver with a uniquely Melbourne character, the Sorrento features a multi-layer ceramic dial and wave-textured bezel but pretty as it is, the watch does not skimp of seaworthiness as evidenced by its 200m water resistance rating, screw down crown, and 120-click unidirectional bezel. Like the Collins, the Sorrento also packs a Miyota 9015, but in a very different package.


The stainless steel case is a fairly standard size, 42mm wide and 50mm long, but its 14mm height makes it seriously chunky. Touring the case, you will find that there is quite a lot going on here to break it up and make things more interesting. Upper surfaces are brushed north-south excepts for the polished bezel, crown, and center links. Long crown guards follow the curve of the barrel, minimizing their presence while simultaneously bulking up the case. A tall, polished bezel and the bright edge of the case back frame vertically brushed case sides. A beautifully stamped diving helmet on the case back underscores the Sorrento's deep sea aspirations. Polished surfaces may dress it up a bit, but it is an unquestionably aggressive case. 


The testosterone-laden case makes an intriguing platform for the Sorrento's other, less conventional elements. Let's start with a bezel that is groovy in the most literal sense of the word. I do wonder what it might be like to clean if anything were to get into those tiny furrows, but it looks amazing. All of the markers are inlaid except for the one raised lume pearl at top center. 



Pleasing as it may be, the design does compromise its utility as a timer. Even in daylight, I found it hard to differentiate the pip from the rest at a glance, and at night, the pip's glow is rather dim. Although the bezel has a knobby grip, good action, and only minimal play, I suspect the Sorrento will not see much diveing duty.  


In contrast to the bezel, the dial is as practical as it is attractive. Fans of the Melbourne Portsea will instantly recognize its ceramic construction and striated texture. A printed chapter index on the outermost ring steps down to a second ring of applied and polished markers. Bars at 3, 6, and 9 o'clock float over the bottommost section, and diminutive dots represent the remainder. All are framed and filled with lume. Heavy, tapered hands are brushed with a polished and lumed center channel. Of course, the second hand has an M tail. It's a uniquely attractive layout offering great depth and detail. 


The Sorrento’s 3-link bracelet is 22mm at its solid end links, tapering to a 20mm flip-lock clasp with a push-button release. Single-ended, threaded pins hold it together. There is a bit more play in the links than I might normally like, but it is a quality piece nonetheless. My favorite part is the quick release feature. Just a pinch and the end links come free – no tools, no scratched lugs. I'd like to see more brands adopt this feature. 


I had no problem parking the Sorrento on my 6.5" wrist, but this is a big watch leaning more to the dive side of the dress-diver equation, and that presents a curious conundrum. How would you wear the watch? I managed it with a jacket and tie, but that tall case requires a generous shirt cuff to accommodate it. The watch is just a shade too large to be a really "dressy" dress diver, but as noted above, it not entirely practical as a tool watch either. I'd have to split the difference and call it a sports watch. Many will find it too much for the office, and it lacks the undersea visibility required of a proper dive watch, but it would be an excellent weekend companion for adventures not requiring an oxygen tank. I only wish it had a lower profile as that would have better suited its dressed-up design, making it far more versatile. 

The Sorrento sits on the high side of the affordable microbrand spectrum. Quality construction and numerous unique design features go far to justify its $849 price; however, I suspect Bum readers will be much happier paying the current $597 while it is on sale.

For more information to make a purchase, see http://www.melbournewatch.com.au/


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