We first brought you word of the Manchester Watch Works Vergennes and Westminster watches not all that long ago (link). Of the two trench watch-inspired pieces, I found myself drawn the most to the white-dialed one. As fortune would have it, there was one of those available for us to go hands-on with, even though the Kickstarter project (link) is still running. Without further ado, let’s get into our review of the Manchester Watch Works Vergennes.
I must say that the first thing that struck me about the Manchester Watch Works Vergennes is it’s size. The spec sheet reads that the stainless steel case comes in at 40mm (11mm thick), but it wears a touch smaller than that. I think this is due to the lug configuration. They give the look of wire lugs (ie, what was brazed or soldered on to pocket watch cases to allow them to be worn on the wrist), so you do not have that continuation of the case into the lugs, allowing your eyes to really just pick up the round shape of the case by itself.
I say that the lugs give the appearance of wire lugs on the Manchester Watch Works Vergennes because they actually do make the use of spring bars. While this may not be a sturdy or rugged as the originals, it does give you a lot more flexibility. You could use a single-piece strap to complete the look, or you can use a two-piece strap, as they have done here with the stock strap. The 20mm leather strap is a fairly thick – yet flexible – one, and it has a bit of a soft, almost suede-like, feel to it. While the thicker strap initially seems out of place on a smaller watch, it is in keeping with the vintage inspiration, where a thick piece of leather meant durability.
I also found that the dial really captured that old-school look as well. To begin with, the white surface of the dial is reminiscent of an enameled dial. Though it is “just” a glossy painted dial, it manages to capture the depth and smoothness you would see on an original enamel piece. Printed on top of that you have the simple, slightly stylized numerals, with the 12 standing out in red. For the handset, they are all blued (including the small seconds), with the hour and minute hand being lumed. The handset is decently sized, but I did find myself thinking they could do with being a touch wider. On the lume front, that is well done. It’s BWG9 on the handset and, in a surprise, C1 shows up on the hour markers in the form of pips. Not sure how close that hews to an original, but I rather like the utility that it offers.
On the wrist, the 76g Manchester Watch Works Vergennes was quite comfortable. That was aided by the aforementioned strap, and just the overall compactness of the watch. The crisp dial made reading the time a breeze, and the thin blued edges of the hands made them stand out sharply against the white dial. I also appreciated the fact that the logo on the dial is fairly small here and takes a script font. This allows it to be present without dominating the dial. This was a great watch both at the office and around the house.
So, yeah, the Manchester Watch Works Vergennes is a trench watch that can be pressed into service as a daily wear piece. With the sapphire crystal and steel case protecting the dial and reliable Miyota movement (the 8245 automatic) and helping the watch to a 100m WR rating, it is also a trench watch that is likely a good bit more reliable than a vintage example you may run across. Sure, the original does have its appeal, and I would not mind picking one up some day as a sort of catalog of the transitions that watches have gone through. For a reliable watch, though, it would be hard to beat something modern like this.
The Kickstarter project for the Manchester Watch Works Vergennes (or the black-dialed Westminster) ends on Friday, October 16th. As of the time of this writing, you can pick up your own watch for $189 and up (the earlybird level is sold out). As Matt often mentions, Kickstarter projects are never sure things, so caveat emptor. I will add that, while the first project for Manchester Watch Works did stumble, their subsequent efforts have gone more smoothly. Based on what I have seen here with my limited time with the Manchester Watch Works Vergennes, I think it’s a risk worth taking if this is a style that calls out to you. manchesterwatchworks.com
- Brand & Model: Manchester Watch Works Vergennes
- Price: $189 and up
- Who’s it for?: You like the looks of the original trench watches, but want something more reliable and robust
- Would I wear it?: Yes, this could definitely make it into the rotation, especially on a vintage ammo pouch strap
- What I’d change: Aside from slightly wider hands, I would not mind seeing the sides of the case rounded a bit more to further mimic the pocket watch shape
- The best thing about it: For me, it’s the dial, and how much it gives the appearance of being enameled
Tech Specs from ManchesterWatchWorks
- Solid 40mm 316L polished stainless steel case, 11mm thick with 20mm lug width
- Robust and reliable automatic Citizen Miyota 8245 automatic movement with handwinding, 42+ hour power reserve and 21,600 VPH
- 100m water resistance with screwed down engraved crown and caseback
- Vintage domed sapphire crystal
- Swiss superluminova BGW9 lumed hands and C1 lumed hour markers
- Genuine premium leather straps with engraved steel buckles