Mercer Javelin

Photos and review by Mike Razak

I stole this watch from The Time Bum. He was slated to review it, and I swooped in. And by stole, I mean asked if I could do it and was allowed to. No less!—it's all mine now. I've been a big fan of New Jersey-based Mercer Watches since I got into this hobby in late 2015, which was shortly after they launched. While not all of their designs are for me, I like most of them; I currently own the Durham, have previously owned the Lexington, thought seriously for quite some time about buying the Airfoil, and convinced someone else to buy the Wayfarer II GMT. 

So I wasn't surprised when pictures of the Javelin came out, and I liked it. The three-piece case reminded me of Bremont in a great way, and the watch seemed to answer a question I've long asked: What would happen if you made a Bremont that was thinner, more wearable? The Mercer Javelin is what would happen. But that doesn't mean the Javelin lacks charms of its own.

The Javelin's case comes in at the upper end of my wrist's sweet spot, 41mm across and just 11mm tall. This makes for an easy-wearing watch on just about any wrist, though be advised that due to the thinness of the bezel, the watch looks more like 42mm. And with longer lugs, the watch did have a slight overhang (see the above pic). The finishing on the three-piece case adds dimension and texture. The bezel feature three facets: brushed top, polished bevel, then a thin band of brushed just above the midcase. The midcase features a brushed finish throughout, accented by a thin polished chamfer along the underside edge. The coup de grĂ¢ce is the matte black knurled lower midcase. It all comes together for a rugged look that is reinforced by the watch's more than adequate 100M water resistance.

If you're familiar with Bremont lugs, you'll recognize the profile of Javelin's 22mm lugs, which expand a bit as they extend away from the case, almost squaring out by the end. The 22mm lugs are wider than I usually prefer, but with the spacious dial, they help rein in the perceived width of the dial (with 20mm lugs, the watch would likely look like 43-44mm on the wrist). Spinning around to 3 o'clock, a standard push-pull crown features a polished tube section capped off by a coin edge grip. Due to the use of a movement with a date function and no display, there is a dead crown position, but I didn't find it too bothersome: the date stop is somewhat fluid, for better or worse, and you may not even notice it. I do, however, wish the crown was a bit larger, which the case certainly could've handled. As it is, it's operable, but falls short of perfection. 

A double-domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating provides excellent glare protection, with the dial readable at almost any angle. The olive drab dial is my favorite of the three options (the others being black and midnight blue). This may be because I'm really into green dials, I'm really over blue dials, or black dials lean towards meh. Whatever the reason, I'm certainly right. While the dial is plenty spacious, its not empty, as can be an issue. A minute track surrounds the dial, with triangular 5-minute markers and minute hashes. Numerals in a serif font provide a field watch feel with a dash of elegance, something a swashbuckler may choose to wear in the modern age. At 12 o'clock is the Mercer sabre logo and at 6 o'clock the Javelin name in a modern yellow font to match the seconds hand. Filling in the rest of the dial is a white reticle, aiming for greatness.

I've decided there is a swashbuckling theme to this watch. I doubt it was intentional, and I don't know whether my interpretation will be shared. The lugs look like some old cutlass swords, the Mercer logo includes a sabre, the numeral font has the adventurous elegance of Errol Flynn, and now we've arrived at the sword-style hands! Quod erat demonstratum. The hands, like the crown, could stand to be enlarged, but are perfectly legible as is. Like the triangles and the numerals, the hands feature Super-LumiNova BG W9, which is applied even and glows bright blue-green (I saw Parasite with the Javelin on wrist, and the lume lasted through most of the 2+ hour movie; though I haven't watched other Korean films with other watches, so I can't do a direct comparison). The yellow seconds hand features no lume, however, and I just can't decide how I feel about that. The black gloss finish that surrounds the lume on the hands is a bit off for me. I think a brushed or polished steel would have been more consistent with the rest of the watch.

Turning the watch over, a screw-down display back with a tolerable amount of text shows off the Swiss STP 1-11 movement. STP is Fossils foray into Swiss movement manufacturing, in an attempt to seize part of the market left when ETA restricted supply of their movements. But don't let that (or the hate that STP sometimes gets) fool you. On delivery to Mercer, the STP 1-11 beats the standard grade ETA 2824 in power reserve (44 hours), average rate (-0/+15 s/d), jewel count (26), and it uses a higher grade hairspring. To wit: over the last two days I had the Javelin, it gained about 5 sec/day. Take that, snobs! 

Those 22mm lugs limit strap swaps (for me—I only have a few 22mm watches). Even so, I had this as many 22s as I could find. Unsurprisingly, it worked well with earth tones, though it was just ok with the blue strap I tried (Watch Steward elastic in Denim). The longer lugs allow for easy use of NATOS, though as they don't curve too aggressively, the watch can end up feeling like it sits high at times. The stock straps on the Javelin are camo leather color-coordinated to the dial you choose, with white stitching, and reinforced spring bar tubes. Like all of Mercer's stock straps, it's high quality, requires little to no break-in, and feels great on the wrist. A custom buckle helps tie the whole package together. 

If you're in the upper 50th percentile of wrist sizes, you'll likely be quite happy with the Javelin. The case is exceptional and different from almost anything you'll get at this price point, and the refinement and ruggedness are perfectly balanced.  I think I would've really gone nuts over this watch if it was scaled down to 40mm, and all things adjusted accordingly. With a pre-order price of $299 (and a retail of only $429), it's hard to complain about anything. If you like what you see and aren't as picky as I am, the watch is available now on the Mercer website. At the very least, you'll have a undeniably solid watch with a Swiss movement and a Bremont-style case (without the Bremont-style price).
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