Has the Seagull 1963 finally met its match when it comes to the position of WRUK’s favourite chronograph watch? Here’s our review of the Vintro Le Mans 52.
Vintro Le Mans 52
This blog, at least, cannot review a chronograph without comparing it to the Seagull 1963. It’s one of the most popular watches with our readers and has long been one of my favourites. However – spoiler alert – I’ve actually now sold my Seagull watch on and replaced it with this watch: the Vintro Le Mans 52. The watch comes in quartz and mechanical flavours. I reviewed the mechanical which is €599. That is more expensive than most of the watches I review, and more than the £200-ish Seagull but this watch has a self-winding (albeit still Chinese-made) movement and as I have never seen another watch with it, I can only assume that the price point, mid-way between hand-wind and Swiss chronograph is about right. Remember that this watch is made in Germany, so expect better quality control than a budget timepiece.
As soon as the watch arrived I was impressed. It comes in a soft-feeling padded case with a 3D Vintro logo. Inside is the watch plus a cool beige NATO strap. The presentation oozes quality.
The Vintro Le Mans 52 is a solidly-built watch. There are three options, and I went for the yellow gold with creme dial. I’m not normally one for gold watches but I felt this combo looked the best. The case back is steel, which makes sense as the plating would soon wear off in contact with the skin, and there is a display window to see the ST1940 movement. The movement is a self-winding variant of the Venus 175-derived movement in the Seagull 1963. That, and the 40mm case addresses my two biggest issues with the Seagull watch: it’s a more modern size and there’s no need to wind it. The crown is a little plain but does the job, and the square chrono pushers are far better than those on the Seagull in terms of feel. The design does a good job of making the 15mm depth feel less, and it’s the least chunky automatic chronograph microbrand watch I have worn (the best of all is the Omega Speedmaster Reduced)
Negatives? Well, the text on the rotor is in lowercase in a font that looks like Comic Sans. I think both the font and the decision to have all the writing in lower-case looks cheap, and I would have much preferred a plain rotor or simpler engraving. It’s a disappointing mis-step for an otherwise superb watch.
Dial and Hands
The dial is where the comparisons with the Seagull 1963 come into play. It has the same red, gold and blue colour scheme, the same subdial layout, and similar applied gold numbers and hour markers. The dial on the Vintro Le Mans 52 is stunning.It has that “expensive” feel that is so hard to define, but which you know when you see it. The colour choice is spot on, and the printed text is crisp and legible.
The two subdials have concentric rings which catch the light beautifully, and I particularly liked the crips “fold” down the centre of the hour and minute hands which give them a slight 3D effect. Overall, there’s nothing I don’t like, although a date at 6 O’Clock would have been nice to finish off the package.
Strap and Buckle
If the Vintro Le Mans 52 has a weak link, it’s in the strap department. The supplied genuine leather strap is short, only just fitting around my average 7.5 inch wrist. The texture is unexciting, and it creased after a single wear. The buckle is a standard type, with a lightly etched Vintro logo.
The NATO is better, with a perfectly matched colour and gold coloured hardware, but the makers have fitted quick release strap pins to the stock strap, so you’ll need to buy a pair of 20mm spring pins if you want to fit the NATO to the watch! I am used to buying replacement straps immediately for cheaper watches but I expect a lot better on a watch in this price range.
Vintro Le Mans 52 – Video Review
What I Liked
- This watch is gorgeous, it ticks all my boxes for its dial and case
- The choice of quartz or mechanical movements means there are options whatever your price range
- I love the fact the watch is self-winding, as I always forget to hand-wind watches!
What I Didn’t Like
- The rotor design is out-of-place and cheapens the look somewhat
- The OEM strap does not match the quality set by the rest of the watch
- €599 for the automatic variant may be a bit steep for some
Vintro Le Mans 52 – the WRUK Verdict
As I said in the intro, I like this watch so much it has replaced the Seagull 1963 in my collection. It’s that good. It looks great, works well, and solves all the things I didn’t like in the Seagull. You will need to replace the strap immediately (you need one measuring 20mm at both watch lugs and the buckle end) and that is a shame, but other than that the watch is spot on. It’s the fourth serious contender for my watch of the year and we’re only just over half-way through 2019!
Buy a Vintro Le Mans 52
The Vintro Le Mans 52 comes in two variants – a €269 Meca Quartz or the mechanical self-winding version I reviewed at €599. There are three variants: Gold and creme dial (as reviewed), steel with white dial and rose gold with black dial.