OK, you only have a few dozen hours to get behind the crowd-funded kick off of the Marloe Cherwell, but better late than never, am I right? The brand was nice enough to loan me black and white dial versions, and I really liked them. OK, I was probably predisposed, since the watches are hand wound minimalist watches without a date window, but just because a watch was built practically with me in mind, that does not mean I would love it, or does it?Before I get into the details on the watch, I do want to preface this with an apology about the photography, especially with the black dial version. The watch has a lovely double domed crystal, in sapphire, with AR coating (OK, I snuck in one detail), but it was still the devil to get a good photo of the watch in my office. The overhead lights or some other object (including me or the camera) would always be reflected back in the image. In daily wear (I had the watches for about a wee) this was not the case, I could easily tell the time, but the dome meant that there was always a reflection when I was shooting the images.
Anyway, back to me… I have one other hand wound watch and I like it quite a bit. If you only have one or two automatics, then you can rotate how often you wear them and keep them wound. Similarly, if you have a bank of autowinders, there is no need to hand wind. I am fortunate to have more than a lone pair of automatics, but unfortunately, I don’t have the bank of auto winders, so I end up hand winding my watches daily anyway. and if you are going to hand wind your watches, you might as well make use of the exhibition caseback and show off the movement, sans rotor.
The movement in question is a Seagull ST3621, a Chinese clone of the Unitis 6478. No, it is no where near as nicely finished as the Unitis, especially when you get down in to the nitty gritty of the movement, but what is visible is actually quite nice. While a Seagull would not be my first choice is movements, they are well built and reliable, a nice low cost alternative to Swiss or even Japanese movements. Marloe does not look like they did any extra decoration to the movement, but it still shows off nicely through the mineral glass exhibition caseback. This is actually a pet peeve I have with some watch makers, where they use an exhibition caseback to show off an uninteresting movement (looking at you Miyiota) that is 1/2 hidden by a rotor. With the Marloe Cherwell, there is something so see.
On the wrist, it wears very nicely. The strap was comfortable and pliable, and the 43.4 mm size was right in my wheelhouse. At 12 mm (to the apex of the domed crystal) it is not a super slim watch, but it is by no means a behemoth; it is definitely a dress watch. The case itself is polished stainless steel, with beveled sides that taper in slightly from the bezel to the wrist. The handset is simple but attractive. For the white dial, a set of blued hands might give a little extra flash, but it would come at a cost. There is no lume of the watch, which I don’t mind as a dress watch. If this were my do everything daily watch, it might be a slight issue, but it was not for me.
Sitting at 6:00 is the small second hand, with a recessed background of concentric circles. It is evident on close inspection, but at a glance it serves more to provide a slight texture difference between the main dial and the sub dial. The dial itself is multi-layered, with the raised square dots of the chapter ring set in a recessed ring. The indexes are applied stainless bars, bridging both the main dial and recessed outer ring. Overall, it gives a nice depth to the dial without making it look busy. Beyond that, there is the applied numerals for 12:00, the branding just beneath it, and a small “hand wound” marking at the bottom of the hour.
If I did have one issue, it would be with the crown, and this is even a give and take. The crown in flared toward the end and knurled, making it very easy to grip. Since you need to wind it every other day or so (the reserve is reported at over 50 hours), you want something easy to grip. But this flair also causes it to dig in just a bit. It would not bother me much, especially if I wound it only when I was wearing it, but if it were my daily wear, or if I took better care of my hands (I rock climb, I have rough skin), it might be an issue.
The Marloe Cherwell Kickstarter project closes on Thursday, February 25 at 7:56 AM Pacific, so I realize I am not giving you guys a whole lot of lead time. And since this is a crowd funded project, I want to toss in my usual disclaimer about these projects, that you are funding the development of a product, not making a retail transaction, and that projects can change from idea to implementation. Projects can also just vaporize, so please go into this with your eyes open. But I have had two of the prototypes in my hands (and on my wrist), so I can attest that this watch does exist, it is not just cleverly done renderings. There is nothing in the project that raises warning bells for me that says it is too ambitious.
Well, maybe the one caveat is that the watch has been very successful. Against a goal of about $42,000, they have raised over $240,000. What is nice is that they have added some stretch goals, including a pretty blue dial, but fulfillment may end up getting stretched. The brand hopes to have the watches all shipped in June, a scant 3 months after production begins. This is definitely one place where I would temper my expectations. Beyond that, I think this is a well executed idea and a very nice watch. I am looking forward to seeing what the band does as an encore. marloewatchcompany.com
- Brand & Model: Marloe Cherwell
- Price: £169 – 189 (~$213 – 242 USD)
- Who we think it might be for: You want a hand wound dress watch on a budget.
- Would I wear one myself based on what I’ve seen?: Definitely, I like this one a lot.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Blue the hands.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: The hand wound movement makes good use of the exhibition caseback.
Tech Specs from Marloe Watch Co.
- Movement: Seagull ST3621
- Functions: Small seconds
- Case: Stainless steel
- Crystal: Double domed sapphire up front, mineral exhibition caseback
- Water resistance: 3 ATM
- Lug width: 20 mm
- Straps: Leather strap
- Diameter: 43.4 mm
- Thickness: 12 mm