Iâ€™ve said it before, and hopefully I will be able to say it again more in the future – it is fun to watch a new brand start up in the watch world, and, subsequently, to watch them grow and expand their offerings. Â Manchester Watch Works (from here on in referred to as MWW) is one of those brands. Â Doug Kim started out with some simpler quartz-driven watches, and since then the catalog has grown in styles and movements. Â The latest, the MWW Beluga, sticks firmly in the dive watch category, but offers up a Swiss movement, all for under a grand.
With the MWW Beluga, there is a bit of a controversy with regards to the watches status as a viable dive watch. Â With a 500m WR rating and a crisp, monochromatic dial, you might wonder what the kerfuffle is all about. Â That is, if youâ€™re like me, and not an actual diver (desk divers unite!) and simply like the style for the looks and the ruggedness they offer. Â Victor had kept tabs on the issue over on the WUS forums, and I read through what was going on. Â What happened is that Kim designed a new bezel insert for timing ascents (to avoid decompression issues) using standards from the US Navy and other diving organizations.
What happened next? Â Well, as it goes, the internet lost itâ€™s mind (or, at least those involved on the thread on WUS did). Â Iâ€™m not a diver, and even I can tell that the bezel is rather unlike what weâ€™re used to seeing. Â So, itâ€™s fair that in a style that tends to be as tradition-driven as a dive watch is, thereâ€™s going to be some vocal opinions. Â For my part, Iâ€™ve found ways to use regular dive watch bezels to time things on land (parking meters, etc), but with this one, it would be tricky. Â I dunno – I am hoping our readers (and writers) who ARE divers will weigh in in the comments below, or over in our Slack channel. Â That all said, in discussions with Kim about this issue, it sounds like there will be an option coming (UPDATE: SEE BELOW) that provide a more traditional dive bezel.
Dive bezel aside, the MWW Beluga has all of the specs weâ€™ve come to expect and love from small-brand divers (full list is below). Â Youâ€™ve got a hefty steel case (41mm by 13mm tall) with a HEV offering up 500m WR to keep the movement dry and protected, along with the sapphire crystal, all paired to a steel bracelet. Â What is different, at least in the world of small-brand divers, is the ETA 2824-2 tucked away inside. Â Some may yawn at this particular movement, but thereâ€™s a reason itâ€™s known as a workhorse. Â Itâ€™ll be dependable and reliable, and any experienced watchmaker these days should know how to service one.
While thatâ€™s all interesting, for me, the star of this particular aquarium show is the dial on the MWW Beluga. Â The official brand position for the pattern is to call it a maelstrom, and that fits with the overall watery theme. Â To me, it also calls to mind the mechanical aperture on the lens of a camera. Â Regardless, this micro-engraved pattern is a new one for me, and Iâ€™ve a feeling it will play with the light and make the otherwise monochrome palette more visually interesting.
At the end of the day – and Ascent Bezel issues aside – Iâ€™m glad to see the MWW Beluga coming to market. Â If past experiences with the brand are any indicator, this will be a solidly built watch. Â Itâ€™s got classic good dive watch looks, and with the Swiss movement, it should last about as long as youâ€™d like it to. Â And, you know, with the black-white-and-steel thing itâ€™s got going on, this will be a great all-around watch in my book (our hands on review, which weâ€™re working on getting a sample, will prove that one way or another). Â With 300 pieces being made (and now available), I think the $810Â MWW Beluga is a watch worth knowing about. Â And, if youâ€™re on the fence because of the bezel, just sit tight a bit, and letâ€™s see what the news is on options in that regard. Â manchesterwatchworks.com
UPDATE: Â As of today (October 31, 2017), there is now an option to get a more traditional-style dive bezel on the MWW Beluga, as shown here:
- Brand & Model: Manchester Watchworks Beluga
- Price: $810
- Who we think it might be for:Â You want your Swiss-driven dive watch solid and affordable
- Would I buy one for myself based on what Iâ€™ve seen? Â If I wasn’t already set for a dive watch, it would be on the short list
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Â Drop the HEV, shave the WR down to 300m, and see if you can slim the case down then as a result
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: Â You could say I’m caught in the eye of the storm
Tech Specs from MWW
- Ascent Bezel TM*:
- Patent pending bezel indicator with 120 click clockwise unidirectional bezel
- Ceramic bezel insert fully lumed with Superluminova C3 to match the minute hand
- Bezel diameter of 43mm for easy gripping
- Watch Head:
- Brushed and polished solid 316L stainless steel case with a 41mm diameter and 50mm length and 13mm height (including crystal)
- 500m water resistance with helium escape valve
- Screwed down caseback with double Viton gaskets; screwed down crown with double gaskets – Raised and beveled sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating
- 24 hour brushed steel outer dial ring
- Signature microengraved maelstrom patterned dial with Superluminova BGW9
- Minute hand lumed with Superluminova C3 to match the bezel insert
- Hour hand lumed with Superluminova BGW9
- White seconds hand lumed with Superluminova BGW9
- Drilled through lug holes
- Swiss made ETA 2824-2 timed and regulated to 3 positions
- Hours, minutes, sweep second. Self-winding mechanism with ball bearing. Date, corrector. Stop second device. Regulator system ETACHRON and regulator corrector. 28.800 vibrations per hour; 4 Hz. 25 Jewels. 38-40 hour power reserve
- Custom made solid, brushed finish 316L stainless steel strap with screw bar link adjustments, machined solid endlinks and stainless steel clasp with solid bridges
- Included sand colored custom made ‘seatbelt’ nylon dive strap with extra spring bars Included Accessories:
- Steel strap changing tool
- Canvas travel roll custom made to fit watches up to 50mm in diameter
- Microfiber watch bag/cleaning cloth