If you follow me on Instagram you probably already know that I’m a big fan of Detroit Watch Company. Patrick and Amy Ayoub have melded their automotive design skills with their love of watches and the “Motor City” of Detroit and created quite a successful brand with a very unique look. Recently I had the opportunity to spend a week with the all new M1 Woodward Moon Phase on the wrist.

Along with the moon phase, Patrick and Amy also just released a new 42mm version of the standard M1 Woodward chronograph, which traditionally has been offered only in a larger 44mm size. I think stepping the case size down a bit on the M1 line is really an excellent decision, and opens up their flagship piece to more wrist sizes. In addition to the moon phase indicator at 6 o’clock, the M1 Woodward Moon Phase – also in 42mm – brings to the table a full calendar complication.

The Dial

When it comes to watches with off-the-shelf movements under the dial, the movement largely dictates the layout. That’s no different here, but it’s what Detroit does with their dials that really sets them apart. There aren’t many micro brands out there that can make me feel like I’m wearing a high complication Patek or Lange. Detroit’s watches do, and this one kicks it up another notch. The partially skeletonized and polished alpha hour and minute hands include Superluminova on their outer halves and sit over a satin white dial. The blued chronograph seconds hand has the trademark Detroit “D” counterweight and stretches out to a black railroad track.

Sub-dials surrounded by railroad tracks include a 30-minute counter at 12 o’clock with day and month windows, a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock with the moon phase indicator, and a combo running seconds and 24-hour indicator at 9 o’clock. All three sub-dials have blued hands, with the exception of the polished 24-hour hand on the combo dial. The moon phase indicator with blue background and gold “Man-In-The-Moon” moon and stars fills up the upper half of the 12-hour dial. Lume-filled, polished and applied round pips sit on the railroad track at each 5-minute index. The final hand on the dial (eight in total) is centrally mounted, polished, and includes a Fleur-de-Lys at its base and a red, lume-filled pointed pip at its tip that points to the date on the outer periphery of the dial. Offering some symmetry and rounding out the dial is an applied “D” with “M1-WOODWARD MOONPHASE” at 3 o’clock

The Case

A slightly inset and polished bezel sits atop a highly polished, round case and surrounds an AR-coated sapphire crystal. The chronograph pushers and crown have a nice knurling and are also highly polished. Gently curved and, you guessed it, highly polished lugs finish off the top and sides of the case. The crown includes an elegant inset white Fleur-de-Lys on a black background.  Around back we find a sapphire exhibition case back showing off the beautifully decorated ETA Valjoux 7751 movement. A Geneva Stripe-decorated and skeletonized rotor includes a vertically positioned “M1” set into a clear diamond atop a black square. Bridges with circular perlage decoration and blued screws peek out from behind the rotor. The circular brushed surface surrounding the exhibition window is engraved with all of the cities that Woodward Ave. passes through from Detroit to Pontiac, as well as the number of each limited edition piece and is held down to the case by five brushed screws.

Overall Impression

I came away seriously impressed with the M1-Woodward Moon Phase. At 42mm it wears extremely comfortably on the wrist, and as I mentioned earlier, every time I looked down at the watch I felt as though I was wearing a much more expensive timepiece. I love the full calendar complication even more than the moon phase, which is more of a novelty than anything else these days, but here it’s executed extremely well. The dial is legible and easy to read, and the chronograph pushers react with a satisfying click. I did notice that if you very slowly depressed the start/stop pusher, the chronograph would actually start before the pusher clicked, but this was a pre-production model so I can forgive little nuances like that.

The M1-Woodward Moon Phase ships with the buyer’s choice of several different leather strap choices. The strap itself is very high quality with thick padding, beautiful stitching, and a very nice deployant clasp with an engraved “D”. The watch is limited to 100 numbered pieces and is priced at $2,450. The two- to three-thousand dollar price segment is very crowded, and populated by larger more well-known brands, and there will be those that balk at paying this kind of money for a micro brand watch. That being said, I defy anyone to find a fully custom-designed watch that looks as good as this one does (subjective of course), includes a beautifully decorated Swiss automatic movement with moon phase and full calendar, and is hand-cased and regulated by the owner of the brand. The M1-Woodward Moon Phase is a winner in my book, and I have no doubt that all 100 copies will sell out. I’m even considering selling my own Detroit 1701 Power Reserve and popping for this one. detroitwatchco.com

Watch Overview

  • Brand & Model: Detroit Watch Co. M1-Woodward Moon Phase
  • Price: $2,450
  • Who we think it might be for: If you dream of a high complication Patek or Lange on your wrist, you need to take a serious look at this watch.
  • Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen? I absolutely would, and am even contemplating selling my Detroit 1701 Power Reserve and snapping one of these up.
  • If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: There is very little, if anything, I’d like to see different here.
  • What spoke to me the most about this watch: It gives the wearer the feel of a very expensive, high complication timepiece but without the five figure price tag.

Technical Specs From Manufacturer

  • Caliber: Decorated Swiss Valjoux Eta 7751 Automatic & Manual Winding 25 jewels. Chronograph. Shock-absorber-Incabloc. Nivarox Hairspring, Glucydure balance.  28800 vibrations per hour, 4Hz. 48-hour power reserve
  • Functions: Display by means of hands; hour, minute, second. Day, month and moon phases shown in dial apertures.  Chronograph 60 seconds, 30min and 12 hours counter. Quick correction of date, day, month and moon phases.
  • Case: 42 mm Diameter polished stainless steel with brushed finish on main case, 14.5 mm overall height
  • Caseback: Circular brushed and polished exhibition with sapphire crystal
  • Lug Width: 22mm
  • Crystal: Sapphire with anti-reflective coating
  • Water Resistant: 5 atmospheres, 50m/165ft
  • Dial: Satin white. Hour indexes with superluminova
  • Strap: Calf leather with deployant clasp and quick release spring bars