It might sound like the alter-ego of a superhero but the Mitch Mason Chronicle is actually a WW2-inspired military field watch that is coming to Kickstarter very soon.
Mitch Mason Chronicle Review
So, what do you get for you $379 (early-bird pricing)? The presentation of the watch is second to none. It (actually they, I was lent two prototypes to review) arrived in a sturdy cardboard box, containing one of the nicest leather watch rolls I have ever seen. I often say presentation is not so important but sometimes – like when you open an Apple product – it really adds to the feeling of quality. This is definitely the case with the Mitch Mason Chronicle. I’m not 100% sure if I like the name – Mitch Mason is not a real person: the brand owner, Benedict Ong tells me: “Mitch is one who plays truant. Mason is one who builds. Putting these two words together, the brand propels toward going against the norm to build great things.” Personally, I am unconvinced but it’s not going to put me off the watch!
What about the watch itself? Well, true to its origins it has a moderate-sized case. 36.5mm is bigger than most 1940s watches but it still might be a touch small for modern tastes. I have a vintage Rolex Datejust so I’m not averse to 36mm watches – but personally I’d have preferred this one to be a touch bigger, maybe 38mm. Having said that, even with its relatively short lug to lug length it looked good on my wrist, certainly not looking or feeling too small.
At first glance, it looks rather plain but dig deeper and there are plenty of pleasing lines: I love the double bevel on the sides of the case and the engraving on the back is pretty good – not a light etching like I often see but still short of, say, Christopher Ward Trident standards. Between the lugs is dead straight and so Mitch Mason avoids the “air gap” that drives me mad on many watches – this watch is designed to be worn on a strap and it shows. The crown is being improved in the production model, which is good news as it was quite tricky to operate. The watch will have a Miyota 9039 movement – a solid and reliable Japanese workhorse that should see years of trouble-free service. There is no phantom date wheel in this movement, a niggle that I often point out in microbrand watches.
Dial and Hands
I was sent two prototypes: a black sandwich dial and a cream printed dial. Both are good in their own way. The cream has a real vintage feel, but the markers and hands do not stand out so well from the dial itself. The design is subtly different: the brand logo is omitted (as period watches tended not to have logos) and the other numerals have single digits rather than double in the sandwich dial.
My pick would be the more modern take: the sandwich dial adds an extra layer of complexity and the hands are easier to pick out. I love the design of the hands, they are not quite cathedral style (the design is based on a knot of twine) and so they give the watch a distinctive but classic look. I do prefer the single-digit numerals on the cream dial, and the logo makes the dial a little more cluttered but I think this is the one that really hits the spot as a complete package.
Strap and Buckle
I often point out that many microbrands ship with low-quality straps. Not this time, the srtaps that come with the Mitch Mason Chronicle are right up there with the best I’ve worn at any price point.
The vintage watch has a suede strap with calf leather lining that feels as good as it looks. The modern version has a superb vegetable-tanned Italian leather strap that is absolutely perfect as far as I am concerned in terms of thickness, feel and quality. The hand-stitching looks great and both straps are matched brilliantly with the watches they are fitted to. Extra marks to Mitch Mason for using quick-release spring pins – I love these and they make changing straps simple with no risk of damaging the case with your strap change tool.
Changes in the Production Versions
I have not pointed out some things you might have picked up in the watch as the y have been changed for the production versions:
- The prototype has just 100m water resistance. This will be boosted to 200m but the case thickness will remain at 12mm (plus 1.5mm for the domed crystal)
- The crown will have fewer, deeper ridges to make it easier to grip
- Finishing and tolerances will be improved (to me the finishing is already really good!)
- The seconds hand is going to be shorter so it touches the outer rim of the second track, rather than over-shooting as it does now
Mitch Mason Chronicle – Video Review
What I Liked
- I love the design, especially the modern take on the vintage field watch style
- The straps are excellent, you do not need to factor in an extra £50-£75 to upgrade the watch band after you buy this watch
- The presentation is exceptional – I would happily pay £50 for the watch roll alone!
What I Didn’t Like
- I am not 100% convinced by the brand name – but it is growing on me
- The light dial version is quite hard to read
- The modern version’s dial is a little cluttered.
Mitch Mason Chronicle – the WRUK Verdict
Overall, I love the Mitch Mason Chronicle. It is one of the best watches I have reviewed this year. It takes a classic design and adds just enough modern features. I said in my first impressions video that this watch feels “worth” £350 – and it comes in at £50 less than that if you jump on the Kickstarter quick. Even if you think the asking price is a touch high, remember that the straps and watch case would set you back £100 or more – and this is the first corner that gets cut in budget watches. The Mitch mason Chronicle comes highly recommended, and is worth every penny of the asking price.
Buy a Mitch Mason Chronicle
The Mitch Mason Chronicle is coming to Kickstarter today, once live it will be accessible at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/mitchmasonchronicle/mitch-mason-chronicle-automatic-field-watch
In the meantime, head over to https://mitchmason.com/ and sign up to be notified when it goes live.