Mondragón Angel Falls

Mondragón Watches recently launched their first watch funding campaign on Kickstarter. Created by Igor Acosta of Abu Dhabi, the Angel Falls promises to be a solid performer with a choice of Japanese or Swiss automatic movements, all the desirable dive watch goodies, and a remarkably low price - a combination The Time Bum finds nearly irresistible. Igor sent me for this orange-accented, ETA 2824 powered model for a review and giveaway (starting October 1).

The Angel Falls is a 1000m diver with more than a touch of 1970's style. Its brushed stainless steel case measures 43mm across and 51mm long. According to the information on the Kickstarter page (which looks like a copy of the specs provided by the factory), it is 13.5mm thick, but my eyes and calipers say it is actually 15mm from the case back to the crystal. These dimensions are enhanced by sheer sides with vertical brushing, angular crown guards, and a substantial polished bezel. As a result, the watch wears true to size. I found it was just within the limits of my admittedly small 6.5" wrist. I couldn't fit it properly under a buttoned shirt cuff, but given the nature of the watch, you probably shouldn't try anyway. This is a watch made for the outdoors, not your office suite. The black and orange color combination is appropriately sporty. Buyers may also choose blue, green, or yellow.
If you are going to bother making a 1000m watch, you might as well throw all the dive watch goodies at it, and the Angel Falls does not disappoint. A signed, screw-down crown at 3 o'clock is joined by a similarly styled but smaller helium release valve at 10 o'clock. Do you need a helium release valve? No, nobody does. Is it cool to have one? Yes, yes it is. The crystal is flat sapphire with an inner anti-reflective coating. The 120-click unidirectional bezel features a black ceramic insert engraved with a dive timer. Its first quadrant is delineated with minute markers and painted orange. Ceramic is a real value adding item in my book as I love the glossy look and high scratch resistance. The bezel looks great, but the action is far too easy for my taste. I've owned looser bezels, and it didn't slip out of place while I was wearing it, but it didn't inspire confidence either. 
The dial contains an offbeat mix of elements. The orange sword hands and lollypop second hand are as you would expect, but the bar-shaped hour markers are topped by a split marker at 12 o'clock and a stylized 6 down below. That 12 o'clock marker is just as long as the others, but because its halves are much slimmer, it ends up looking far smaller than any of them, particularly the big 6. It is most obvious when the lights go down, and the C3 SuperLuminova glow takes over. There is just not enough surface area on the 12 o'clock marker to keep it from getting lost. The bezel pip, hands, and markers are all treated, but once the initial burst begins to fade, the glow on hands outlasts that of the markers.
With the top center mark relatively unoccupied, the large Mondragón logo fills the void. For the second time this month, I find myself wondering whether I love funky script or hate it (the other example was model name on the Diewald Sea Horse). It is not what I would expect on a modern watch, but if that same logo was on a vintage diver I found on eBay, I'd be gushing over its retro charm, so I'm going to embrace the groovy dragon. It is one of those quirky elements that gives the Angel Falls its personality. On the other hand, if you really hate it, Igor will substitute a dial with the Mondragón "M" logo. It is less fanciful than the dragon, but the typeface most definitely retains that 1970's groove.
The review sample has an engraving of the watch's namesake, the spectacular Angel Falls in Venezuela. You wouldn't know it from the illustration though. It looks like... um... I have no idea. There is just not enough detail to convey the image. According to the Kickstarter updates, the watch will now feature the Mondragón "M" instead. 
As mentioned above, buyers have their choice of movements. Thrifty folks like myself will likely go for the workhorse 21.6k bph Seiko NH35 while others will opt for the 28.8k bph Swiss ETA 2814-2. With that ETA, the watch also earns a Swiss Made appellation on the dial. They are otherwise identical in all but price: the ETA model is $400 retail and starts at $350 on Kickstarter, the Seiko version will be $250 and starts at $150 on Kickstarter. Even at full retail, these prices are excellent, but a pre-order of $150 falls squarely into the impulse buy category. 
Not to sound like a late night infomercial, but there is more. The Angel Falls comes on a very nice 22mm chiseled link bracelet with a flip lock clasp, a thick black strap with orange stitching, a black carbon fiber pattern with orange stitching, and a gray/orange/black NATO in smooth, high-quality nylon. All four are signed. The whole set is packaged in a waterproof case with a short spring-pin tool. To my eye, the lightly padded and tapered carbon is the best alternative to the bracelet. I felt the thick black strap was the weakest of the group. If it isn't patent leather, it is near as makes no difference. Still, it is hard to complain that one of the three extra straps isn't to my liking. Even if that one never leaves the box, you are getting a heck of a package for the money.
Value is really the key to the Mondragón Angel Falls. It is not perfect, but it is a competent diver with some interesting (if perhaps polarizing) details, and a few useful extras, for an early bird price that is, frankly, stupid cheap. If this catches your attention like it caught mine, head over to their Kickstarter page by November 3. ⬩







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