We’re big fans of Magrette here at WWR, and have written on their pieces plenty of times in the past, including some of the Regattare models. What I’ve not covered all that much are their engraved pieces – which, if you’ve not seen them, you really should check them out. In the past, however, those engraved models have seemed more like stand-alone pieces, whereas this latest release, the Kowhaiwhai, is an extension of the existing Regattare line.
First off, let’s talk about that name. For those of you (like me) who are unfamiliar with Maori culture, here’s what the name signifies:
Kowhaiwhai designs are a repeating pattern often seen as decoration on the rafters of meeting houses. In more modern times the kowhaiwhai design is often seen are a basis for modern moko or tattoo.
Obviously a fit for the brand, as they’re based out of New Zealand. For this, they take the wide, plain bezel of the Regattare, and let the engraver do his work. Even if you don’t understand the particular design (this one is based on a Mangopare design, which comes from the hammerhead shark), you can appreciate the artistic work that’s represented. For me, it also enlivens the watch a good bit. I realize not everyone is a fan of engraving, but for me, it really pushes the right buttons.
Not that the Regattare was a plain watch by any means – it’s just that the wide, flat bezel makes for a wonderful canvas for something like this to occur. I’ve seen some folks say that they feel engraved pieces like this push a watch towards a more casual feel, and I suppose that could be the case for the majority of us. Frankly, though, it is what you make of it. The watch line itself is leaning towards a less formal feel, and the matte finish to the straps further augment that argument.
That’s all largely a matter of taste, and each one will have their own. In this iteration, I think the grey tones that the engraving brings to the watch is a good offset to the bright blue dial, and helps to tone down things a little bit – though I imagine you’ll still have some polished surfaces at play on the case to catch the light. As with other models in the lineup, you’ve got a Miyota 9015 automatic (the first time we’ve seen Magrette use this movement) tucked into the 44mm steel case, topped with an AR-coated sapphire crystal.
This model is ready to hit the waves if you are, with an HEV valve and a 500m WR rating. It also comes stock on their new polyurethane strap, as well as one of their leather straps (which is standard for their watches). I do lament the loss of red backing to their leather straps, however, as it was a rather nice calling card for the pieces.
There are two big differences that separate the Kowhaiwhai from the rest of the Regattare lineup – availability (there are only 10 pieces being made), and price: $1,875. Yup, that’s quite a premium over the standard Regattare watches, but it’s actually one of the more affordable engraved pieces in their lineup. Is it spendy? Sure, but you’re picking up a watch that isn’t going to look like anything your buddies may be wearing. It’s also going to arrive in a box that’s rather unlike the standard pine we’re used to – it’s made of lumber from the Kauri tree and inlaid with black New Zealand paua shell.