Exploring the world of watches on a budget

Monchard Skytoucher

To look at its website, Monchard Watches is a bit of an enigma. The brand name sounds French, the logo is an anchor, but they don’t make a dive or nautical model. The Skytoucher name reflects their two models’ aviation inspiration although it sounds a bit wooden to my American ears as if it were a foreign term that had a sweeter ring in its native tongue. As it turns out, Monchard watches are designed and assembled in Sweden with an eye towards adventure, exploration, travel, and the classic aesthetic of the 1930s and ’40s. They currently have two Skytoucher models, the dressy, three-hand Automatic and the military styled quartz GMT. They loaned me one of each to review. 

Monchard Skytoucher GMT and Automatic

Both watches share the same stainless steel case. It is 42mm wide, 50mm long, and 12mm thick with a fixed, chamfered bezel, a dramatically flared and fluted screw-down crown, and a number plate screwed onto the left side. It has a sapphire crystal and is water resistant to 100m. Between the two models, they offer a variety of finishes: polished, brushed/polished, and black or gold PVD. I requested a stealthy brushed black for the GMT, and mirror polished steel for the Automatic.

Monchard Skytoucher case back

The case back execution is one of several details that makes the Skytoucher special. It bears a crisply milled, high relief image of a spinning propeller with the brand name, key model data, and the phrase "Fortune Favors The Brave" engraved around it.  

Monchard Skytoucher GMT black

Monchard offers the GMT in BGW9 on black and Old Radium on olive in addition to the Old Radium on black pictured here. The dial hews to a traditional flieger type-B layout with a navigation triangle, an inner and outer time tracks, and lance hands; however, the 12-hour markers are on the outer one, and a 24-hour index inside, tracked by a red arrow GMT hand. A black date disk peaks through a three-day window with a red indicator. The Monchard logo and model information is squeezed into the central circle. It is a handsome, legible face, despite the fact that it is densely packed. 

Monchard Skytoucher GMT black

The movement is a Swiss Ronda Powertech 515.24H, a 1 jewel, nickel plated quartz with a 45-month battery life. Monchard has left off the second hand, and I'm glad for it as it spares us the jumpy quartz tick. I try not to be a quartz snob, and I've got a good selection of them in my collection, but I confess that I like them much better when their "quartziness" is masked. That large crown makes setting a breeze, rolling clockwise for the second time zone and counterclockwise for the date when in the first position. 

Monchard Skytoucher GMT and Automatic

While it is equipped to handle wet and messy environments, the Automatic is an easy choice for a day at the office as well. It wears smaller than its 42mm size would imply, thanks in part to the light-bending reflection of its bezel. Inside, is a smooth-sweeping Miyota 9015, a 24 jewel, 28.8k bph automatic that hacks, hand winds, and will run just over 40 hours when fully wound. With both watches in hand, you can feel the difference between this heavier automatic movement and the featherweight quartz.

Monchard Skytoucher Automatic Wrist shot

The Automatic's pilot watch roots show in its crown, hands, and railroad track index, but it carries all the requisite dress watch cues. The gray sunray dial with its polished, applied, and faceted markers is particularly elegant, pairing nicely with the British Tan strap. The handset is polished too, as it the logo. While C3 SuperLuminova-filled lance hands are not the most common choice for a watch of this type, I really like them here. They are the proper length, the dial is large enough to carry their width, and I always appreciate a little lume on any watch, if for no other purpose than to make polished hands visible on a shimmering surface. In this case, it provides a healthy glow on the hands and even a dab behind the markers. Other color options include blue or white dials and a PVD gold case.
Monchard Skytoucher Automatic

Both watches come on tailored vegetable tanned leather straps that taper from 22mm to 20mm signed buckles that match the case finishes. I liked their slightly distressed look, and the pronounced pull-up effect on the dark brown Engineer strap fitted to the GMT.

Monchard Skytoucher Automatic strap

After a few days on the wrist, I was mighty impressed with the Skytoucher's quality and value. These are attractive, thoughtfully designed watches that have made excellent use of a single case and handset to create two very different looks. The Skytoucher GMT sells for $325 and the Automatic for $433 directly from MonchardWatches.com. I highly recommend them. ⬩

Monchard Skytoucher Automatic and GMT lume
Monchard Skytoucher Automatic and GMT side
Monchard Skytoucher crown

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