Stockholm-based Clairette Watches backs up its claims of historical inspiration with two fairly authentic numbers: 38 mm and 34 mm. Those are the classic sizes of its new Miyota 1L45 quartz-powered watch. In a sea of watches 40 mm and larger, Clairette has set itself apart, and that vintage gambit seems to have paid off. After only a few days, Clairette is 80% of the way to its ~$17,000USD goal. Marketers at the big boys should take note before they insist on another 42 mm dress watch.

Clairette claims inspiration from the 1950s, but I see more 1932 in this design, which looks like a Calatrava straight out of a depression-era Patek Philippe catalog. And the dial’s resemblance to the updated Calatrava 5196 is uncanny. I’m guessing on closer inspection there are a few differences.

Lots of similarities, but not the price.

One difference is the cost, which at ~$149 for super early birds is 0.7% of the Calatrava’s $19,000 price tag. That tells you less about the sort of bargain you’re getting than my go-to dress watch comparison: the Orient Bambino, which clocks in at around $120–160 for an automatic movement. But the Orient doesn’t have the same style you’re getting here, and there is very little at this price point in 38 mm, much less 34 mm.

A lot of Kickstarter watches talk about inspiration, but most of the time you just have to take their word for it. Maybe your grandfather did inspire you to start a watch company; maybe you really do want your watch to feed the Nepalese and save the rainforest. But I can’t tell by looking at your me-too three-hander. Clairette is walking the talk.

Funders willing, it will ship in April with a flat sapphire crystal, a white or black dial, and a stainless or gold-tone case on a variety of understated Swedish leather straps with pin buckles.

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Clairette Watches Clairette
  • Price: Super Early Bird Offer: €139 (~$149 USD)
  • Who’s it for? Retro watch taste, Swatch budget.
  • Would I buy it? I’m half-tempted to get one in 34 mm and cook up a batch of bathtub gin in a fedora.
  • What I’d change? A manual-wind movement and a 36 mm version would up the vintage charm to the point of fully-tempted.
  • Standout feature? Genuine inspiration resulting in legitimate vintage style.

Tech Specs from Clairette Watches

  • Movement: Miyota 1L45 quartz
  • Case material: Stainless steel
  • Crystal: Sapphire
  • Case diameter: 38 mm or 34 mm
  • Straps: Tärnsjö leather strap in light or dark brown and black; pin buckle
  • Warranty: 5 years

By Jim Manley

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