Merlin Watches Sea Legend


When you ogle a new watch, and The Time Bum himself offers to let you review it, you don’t say no. Such was the case with the Merlin Watches Sea Legend. I’d seen it on The Time Bum feed and been quite taken by the layered dial. Merlin Watches is a new watch brand out of Singapore (surprise!). Founded by three self-professed watch nerds who wanted to—and I quote—“create magic on the wrist” (hence the Arthurian name), the brand’s first offering is a vintage-styled diver. (How three separate people were able to agree on one design and have it end up this good, I’ll never know: I can’t even get two other people to agree on where to go to dinner.) The watch—and especially the “Golden Boy” iteration I reviewed--answers that age-old question: “What happens when you combine Eterna KonTiki dial markers, Rolex 6205 bezel, and Christopher Ward lugs, tweak it all a bit, and add a gorgeous dial and vintage dimensions?” It’s the Sea Legend: it’s unique, and it’s a pleasure on the wrist.

Merlin Sea Legend Golden Boy

(If that’s enough for you to decide, you can just go buy the watch now on Kickstarter. But I did spend a bit of time on this review, so at least scroll through and look at the rest of pictures).

The Sea Legend is full of vintage cues without being derivative at all. It starts with the satin-finish 39mm case, that’s 13.5mm thick. It’s a perfect size for a vintage-inspired watch and sits well on the wrist. It features a more-than-adequate 200m water resistance, not that you’ll ever need it. But if you do, it also has a screw-down crown to keep things ultra-tight (my review piece did not have the screw-down crown, so I can’t speak to how easily or smoothly it operates). In profile, the case has a gentle curvature that allows it to rest on any wrist, and that curve is accentuated by a well-executed polished chamfer that runs the length of each side. The 20mm lugs remind me of Christopher Ward’s lugs, they have flat bottoms but rise obliquely to the case. I’m sure there are other examples of this, but CW is what pops to mind, and I’ve always liked the look of this lug style. The pièce de résistance (along with the dial), is the sapphire dive bezel, which perfectly mimics the bakelite bezels of olden times (without all the cracking). With gold numerals and markers, and a red 12 o’clock arrow, it draws on myriad vintage divers (primarily the Rolex 6205). The prototype I received was not functioning and had some alignment issues with the markers, which were not lumed, as is advertised—all of these will be resolved in production, and if the rest of the watch is any indication, it will be a snap to use. Leaving off tick marks that are common on the first 10-15 minutes was a great choice here, as it keeps the bezel simple and maintains overall aesthetic balance. The screw-down caseback features a sapphire display crystal, so you can ogle the custom rotor when the nights get lonely. I do wish the case was very slightly thinner, but this isn’t a dealbreaker; the case is near perfect and incorporates well both vintage and modern designs.  

Merlin Sea Legend Golden Boy

How do you follow a phenomenal case? An exceptional dial, of course! While the resemblance to the Eterna KonTIki is coincidental, it’s a bit hard to ignore. Looking straight through the boxed sapphire crystal, the triangle markers with numerals printed at the cardinals were the first things to catch my eye on the dial. While several friends I showed this watch to didn’t care much for having numerals inside the markers, I was unmoved either way: they are there, and that’s that. I think the markers themselves, with the subtle gold border are a treat and not a style we see a lot nowadays. The markers sit on a deep burgundy disc that has a very subtle sheen, allowing to catch the light and really pop (which is no small task for a color that dark. Under that disc is the base dial, in a matte black, with outer minute track and the interior of the dial with well-balanced dial text. Syringe hands with the same color scheme complete the lumed portions of the dial—all coated generously with C3 Super-LumiNova, which shines bright, as ever. This dial works for me; while I’m a sucker for texture and pops of color, the subdued but unique hues and exceptional depth achieve something special here. And if you think the Golden Boy model is awesome, your mind is going to fully explode when you see the other options—Nacre, Tsunami, Meteorite, and Dark Wizard. Each has its own special something, so no one will be left out.

Merlin Sea Legend Golden Boy

The Sea Legend is driven by the Sellita SW200. It’s Swiss, and if you haven’t heard about this movement at this point, Google is your friend. It's common and it’s very easy to repair. There’s little more you need to know (though there is a phantom click, due to the date function without an actual display). And if you want to see it up close, The Sea Legend has a custom Merlin rotor and a sapphire caseback for viewing parties! The caseback also has a cute little shark and some French words that I’ve been told mean “Stainless Steel.” I’ll let you suss out what the case itself is made of.

Merlin Sea Legend Golden Boy

Complimenting the delightful case is a beads of rice bracelet with fitted end links that are integrated into the rest of the bracelet. That means no spending 5 minutes in your watch box trying to find them in the morning. The bracelet goes on and off easily and fits snugly, as expected; the push-button deployant clasp is flush to the links, which means no extra bulk. Full disclosure: I really enjoyed the bracelet. I had a moment to myself when I put it on, just basking in its glory. It won’t come standard, but I think the optional $80 add-on during the Kickstarter campaign will be well worth it for any backer. The standard strap will be black sailcloth which seems to be of decent quality, though I don’t have much experience with these strap types. It’s a strap, it was easy to clasp, and it held the watch on, so it checks all my boxes. If that weren’t enough, backers will also have the option of a leather strap and/or an olive canvas strap (the latter of which I tried and was quite nice. AS far as pairing your own straps, you’ll probably be confined to “leaf colors.” Greens, browns, reds, etc. As you can tell, they work well. You can always go crazy and just throw it on whatever, though. I won’t judge you (publicly).

Merlin Sea Legend Golden Boy

What’s left to say? Definitely look at the site and the campaign page to get a look at all the options because each one is unique. I’m particularly fond, too, of the Nacre, with its mother of pearl base dial. The boys at Merlin have done an excellent job on creating a vintage-style diver with four incredible looks. If you’re interested (you should at least be interested), the Kickstarter campaign is live now, and Super Early Bird pricing starts at $329, which is rather insane considering the $745 full retail price. Go get yourself a nice watch. You deserve it.

Merlin Sea Legend Golden Boy

Merlin Sea Legend Golden Boy

Merlin Sea Legend Golden Boy

Merlin Sea Legend Golden Boy lume

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