When it comes to chronographs there are two schools of thought. One school focuses on the platonic ideal, the watch the catapults you to the moon, dark-faced and simple. The other school loves the idea of the chronograph as robot, full of odd dials, weird movements, and four more buttons than needed. The Mercer Brigadier Chrono sits firmly and handsomely in the first camp.
This $199 watch is inexpensive, classy, and well-made. It doesn’t get much better than that.
The Brigadier is Mercer’s third watch and it runs a Seiko VK64 Mechaquartz, a movement with a quartz driver but with mechanical pushers. This means you don’t get a running seconds hand but instead has a 24-hour counter at 3 o’clock. It is based on the 6T63, a similar Seiko movement. The date window is at 6 o’clock and is a bit hard to read but definitely not impossible.
The face is nicely guilloched with with a multi design that brings the dials to the fore and adds nice depth. The white face in steel or gold is really outstanding with its careful, understated style. The watch comes in multiple permutations and is available on blue, brown, and black straps. It fits well and is nice and big without being too thick.
The creator, Scott Vuocolo, has already built something called the Airfoil, an understated pilot’s watch. I think this new model is where he truly shines, adding in all of the detail of a nice Longines with the down-to-earth styling that he tends toward in his timepieces. The New Jersey-based company has decided to pay homage to its native son in the piece, naming it after a famous Revolutionary general.
“These watches were named after Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, a key player in the battles of Trenton and Princeton during the American Revolution,” he wrote. “He was a doctor, a soldier and an accomplished leader – and he’s also the namesake of the county where we reside.”
I enjoyed wearing this thing more than I thought I would. I’m really down on quartz chronographs – the dead beat, ticking seconds hand just grates on me – but the mechaquartz hid its quartz roots nicely and it was very readable. It’s a fun watch without being too fancy and I love the story.
The watch has surpassed its goal of $27,000 and the piece I tested looked great. If you’re in the market for a usable, readable, classic chromo this is the watch for you. It trends more towards the suit and tie crowd thanks to the clean lines and simple face but you could feasibly wear it as a day-to-day – although the high gloss case might take scratches a little too actively. My recommendation is to check it out. At $199 it’s not that expensive and you get a little piece of history with your watch. Best of all you can tell people that your timepiece was made in New Jersey.
- Brand & Model: Mercer Watch Brigadier Chrono
- Price: Starts at USD $199
- Who we think it might be for: This is for someone who might wear watches to work or to a wedding. It is nicely made and has an interesting quartz-mechanical movement.
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: I personally need a fully mechanical chrono but this is close enough.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: I would remove the handsome Brigadier from the back of the case. He’s not doing anyone any favors.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: The care that went into designing the face. It’s rare to see this quality.
- Brand Model: The Brigadier Chronograph by Mercer Watch Company
- Movement (technology): Seiko VK64 Mechaquartz Chronograph
- Size of case diameter (mm): 42mm
- Height of case: 11mm
- Weight: N/A
- Case material: 316L surgical steel
- Case Back: 316L surgical steel
- Crown: 316L surgical steel
- Crystal/Glass material: Mineral glass
- Water resistance (m/ft/atm): 100m
- Strap/Bracelet material: Parent Leather Strap
- Warranty: One year warranty
- Illumination: Luminous hands
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