As you’re no doubt aware, we here at WWR have started to broaden our focus. Yes, watches will be our primary mission (that is not changing), but we are expanding into taking a look at interesting items that would fall into the category of “Men’s Style”. Then again, a watch could simply be viewed as an accessory within that category, so it all makes sense. Today, we’ll be taking a look at a trio of items from Swedish brand Grand Frank.
Who is Grand Frank, you might be asking? I’m glad you asked. While our previous forays into Men’s Style have focused on brands that were watch companies first – and expanded into men’s style – this time, we’re going the other route. Grand Frank is primarily a clothing brand, as becomes obvious when you take a look at their website. Along with the other accessories they’re offering, watches have come into the lineup as well. We’ll come back to that chronograph in a minute.
First, I think it makes sense to have a look-see at the shirt and tie that we were provided for the review, as that is Grand Frank’s wheelhouse. Looking through their catalog, they have a variety of interesting options. With shirting, I have found myself drawn more and more to material that gives a solid (even plain) look from a distance, but upon closer inspection there are some lovely patterns and/or textures revealed.
That’s how I came to have a look at their Wedgwood Blue shirt with a cutaway collar. As the name suggests, Grand Frank is drawing a parallel to the famous pottery of that name. This is accomplished via a white weave that is in the shirt. While the pottery has a much starker (but still quite nice) contrast between the colors, with the Grand Frank shirt, it is definitely more subtle. In my book, that is a-ok, particularly in a shirt that can work both at the office and with a suit.
From a distance, the 100% cotton shirt itself looks like a light blue. For the wearer, however, the white weave is quite evident, looking almost like little diamonds that are slightly raised. So, not only do you get that visual variety, there really is a feel of a variegated texture to the shirt, which certainly elevates it above, say, a simple blue shirt from oxford cloth. In terms of fit, I did have some back and forth with the brand before we settled on it. In the end, the size Large shirt was just spot-on for my frame (6’3”, 200 lbs), and this is considering that it is a slimmer fit by design. I found the $82 shirt perfectly comfortable, and found it to be a very versatile choice in a variety of situations.
If we’re talking shirts, we might as well talk ties as well, right? Well, wouldn’t you know it, Grand Frank also offers a variety of ties. With it being fall, I went hunting for something in a warmer earth tone, and came across their Shifting Orange Blend Tie ($32). I thought this would set off nicely against the blue shirt, and it turns out, I was quite right. The 50/50 blend (of wool and silk) gives it a great feel (and look), without it being quite a rough, or unrefined, of a look as you sometimes get with some non-silk ties (like the knit ones). What it does is it allows for a somewhat more relaxed look, that works well at the office (with or without a jacket), or with something of a jacket that is a bit more casual leaning, as I had when I paired it with my corduroy blazer (hello, professor!) As an added bonus, the small flecks in the tie seemed almost mimic the contrast weave on the shirt.
That mention of the shirt brings us back to another shirt-adjacent item – the Grand Frank Montpellier Chronograph. They have a few different varieties of this watch (as well as another chrono and some three-handers), but we went with the white dial which comes in on the blue strap – again, picking up details (well, colors really) from that Wedgwood shirt. With a 43mm stainless steel case (polished), the Montpellier definitely has some decent wrist presence as well, when it peeks out from under the shirt cuff.
It fits rather well under the shirt cuff as well, given that it’s only 12mm thick. Given those dimensions, it’s 88g weight, and relatively inexpensive asking price ($175), astute observers would peg this as a quartz-driven watch. And you would be right. For those who like to know all the details, it is a Japanese quartz movement, and things are topped with a mineral crystal. And while mechanical chronograph movements certainly are cool to admire, if you really want to use a chronograph, it is hard to beat the accuracy of a quartz movement.
Then again, you could be like me and never use a chronograph (or when you do, forget you have it running and totally lose the point of having the complication). For us likeminded folks, there’s a pleasure in noting that the large central second hand is for the running seconds (not the chronograph), and the subdial over at 3 o’clock is a 24-hour indicator. For those wanting to time things, you will want to keep an eye on the chronograph seconds (at 6 o’clock) and minutes (at 9 o’clock).
Past the chronograph styling, the Grand Frank Montpellier is very much a dress watch. If the high-polish case and indices, along with the croc-embossed 21mm strap, and 5 ATM WR rating didn’t give it away, the absolute lack of lume on the handset would certainly seal the deal. What this means is that this is a good watch for when you’re dressing up, during the day, or even on on a night on the town. If you’re headed off for a night hike in the woods, though, you’ll want something with higher visibility.
Then again, this mini-ensemble that we assembled out of the Grand Frank catalog is meant for town – not the countryside. When you consider that all three pieces come together well under $300, you’ve got a quick way to add some more style to your wardrobe. While chronographs are not necessarily my cup of tea, the shirt and tie are definitely items I could see ending up in my wardrobe. One point on the shirting – these prices are definitely in-line with what you might find at the higher-end department stores. If you’re not adverse to tip-toeing into the custom waters, though, you can find some rather nice options (I reviewed some here). That all said, the fit on this shirt was almost custom for me, and I really like the look and feel of the material, so the price becomes a wash in my book.
As with watches, there is a whole world of stuff out there when it comes to smaller, independent brands, and they can be fun to explore. It’s funny – with watches, we’re comfortable with things coming from all over the world. And, in some ways, we’ve gotten used to clothing coming from overseas, given where most of it is manufactured. There’s a caveat there, as folks tend to look at the brand on the label, and care more about that then where things are made. If you can get past that “label” mentality, there can be some great stuff out there to explore and discover, much like I’ve been able to do here with Grand Frank. That said, I’m sure there’s plenty more out there that I am not aware of, so please, do let us know in the comments – or drop us a line on what some of your favorite “indie” brands are for clothing. Inquiring minds want to know! grand frank.com
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