I’ve said it before, and hopefully I will be able to say it again more in the future – it is fun to watch a new brand start up in the watch world, and, subsequently, to watch them grow and expand their offerings. Manchester Watch Works (from here on in referred to as MWW) is one of those brands. Doug Kim started out with some simpler quartz-driven watches, and since then the catalog has grown in styles and movements. The latest, the MWW Beluga, sticks firmly in the dive watch category, but offers up a Swiss movement, all for under a grand.
With the MWW Beluga, there is a bit of a controversy with regards to the watches status as a viable dive watch. With a 500m WR rating and a crisp, monochromatic dial, you might wonder what the kerfuffle is all about. That is, if you’re like me, and not an actual diver (desk divers unite!) and simply like the style for the looks and the ruggedness they offer. Victor had kept tabs on the issue over on the WUS forums, and I read through what was going on. What happened is that Kim designed a new bezel insert for timing ascents (to avoid decompression issues) using standards from the US Navy and other diving organizations.
What happened next? Well, as it goes, the internet lost it’s mind (or, at least those involved on the thread on WUS did). I’m not a diver, and even I can tell that the bezel is rather unlike what we’re used to seeing. So, it’s fair that in a style that tends to be as tradition-driven as a dive watch is, there’s going to be some vocal opinions. For my part, I’ve found ways to use regular dive watch bezels to time things on land (parking meters, etc), but with this one, it would be tricky. I dunno – I am hoping our readers (and writers) who ARE divers will weigh in in the comments below, or over in our Slack channel. That all said, in discussions with Kim about this issue, it sounds like there will be an option coming (UPDATE: SEE BELOW) that provide a more traditional dive bezel.
Dive bezel aside, the MWW Beluga has all of the specs we’ve come to expect and love from small-brand divers (full list is below). You’ve got a hefty steel case (41mm by 13mm tall) with a HEV offering up 500m WR to keep the movement dry and protected, along with the sapphire crystal, all paired to a steel bracelet. What is different, at least in the world of small-brand divers, is the ETA 2824-2 tucked away inside. Some may yawn at this particular movement, but there’s a reason it’s known as a workhorse. It’ll be dependable and reliable, and any experienced watchmaker these days should know how to service one.
While that’s all interesting, for me, the star of this particular aquarium show is the dial on the MWW Beluga. The official brand position for the pattern is to call it a maelstrom, and that fits with the overall watery theme. To me, it also calls to mind the mechanical aperture on the lens of a camera. Regardless, this micro-engraved pattern is a new one for me, and I’ve a feeling it will play with the light and make the otherwise monochrome palette more visually interesting.
At the end of the day – and Ascent Bezel issues aside – I’m glad to see the MWW Beluga coming to market. If past experiences with the brand are any indicator, this will be a solidly built watch. It’s got classic good dive watch looks, and with the Swiss movement, it should last about as long as you’d like it to. And, you know, with the black-white-and-steel thing it’s got going on, this will be a great all-around watch in my book (our hands on review, which we’re working on getting a sample, will prove that one way or another). With 300 pieces being made (and now available), I think the $810 MWW Beluga is a watch worth knowing about. And, if you’re on the fence because of the bezel, just sit tight a bit, and let’s see what the news is on options in that regard. manchesterwatchworks.com
UPDATE: As of today (October 31, 2017), there is now an option to get a more traditional-style dive bezel on the MWW Beluga, as shown here:
- Brand & Model: Manchester Watchworks Beluga
- Price: $810
- Who we think it might be for: You want your Swiss-driven dive watch solid and affordable
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen? If I wasn’t already set for a dive watch, it would be on the short list
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: Drop the HEV, shave the WR down to 300m, and see if you can slim the case down then as a result
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: You could say I’m caught in the eye of the storm
Tech Specs from MWW
- Ascent Bezel TM*:
- Patent pending bezel indicator with 120 click clockwise unidirectional bezel
- Ceramic bezel insert fully lumed with Superluminova C3 to match the minute hand
- Bezel diameter of 43mm for easy gripping
- Watch Head:
- Brushed and polished solid 316L stainless steel case with a 41mm diameter and 50mm length and 13mm height (including crystal)
- 500m water resistance with helium escape valve
- Screwed down caseback with double Viton gaskets; screwed down crown with double gaskets – Raised and beveled sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating
- 24 hour brushed steel outer dial ring
- Signature microengraved maelstrom patterned dial with Superluminova BGW9
- Minute hand lumed with Superluminova C3 to match the bezel insert
- Hour hand lumed with Superluminova BGW9
- White seconds hand lumed with Superluminova BGW9
- Drilled through lug holes
- Swiss made ETA 2824-2 timed and regulated to 3 positions
- Hours, minutes, sweep second. Self-winding mechanism with ball bearing. Date, corrector. Stop second device. Regulator system ETACHRON and regulator corrector. 28.800 vibrations per hour; 4 Hz. 25 Jewels. 38-40 hour power reserve
- Custom made solid, brushed finish 316L stainless steel strap with screw bar link adjustments, machined solid endlinks and stainless steel clasp with solid bridges
- Included sand colored custom made ‘seatbelt’ nylon dive strap with extra spring bars Included Accessories:
- Steel strap changing tool
- Canvas travel roll custom made to fit watches up to 50mm in diameter
- Microfiber watch bag/cleaning cloth