March LA.B is a relatively young brand, based between France and California, which was created in 2008, with a clear focus on design and vintage inspirations… But not the usual 1960s tool-watch kind of vintage. Something different, something bolder, quite unique in the industry. And even though it’s the first time we cover one of March LA.B’s creations, this latest model made quite an impression on us… So here’s the March LA.B Mansart, a funky 1960s tuxedo watch, overly designed, slightly outdated but kind of cool!
March LA.B, for Los Angeles and Biarritz (south-west of France), where respectively the brand’s designer and its founder are based, was created by Alain Marhic, a designer named Jerome Mage and a financial partner, Joseph Chatel. March LA.B is a tribute to the timeless elegance of vintage watches, but while most brands focus on tool watches (i.e. divers’ watches or pilots’ chronographs), March LA.B went for something rather different. Instead of the instrumental design of famous sports watches, the French brand took its inspiration in architecture, furniture design and even some bolder watches of the 1960s – the funky 1960s, if you want.
March LA.B mostly focuses on designs, shapes, textures and colours rather than offering mechanically complex watches. Don’t expect in-house movements and complications here, it’s not the idea. And in this instance, these Frenchies are doing pretty well, especially with the latest model, the Mansart.
The March LA.B Mansart
This new watch looks like nothing else on the market… And that’s clearly a positive aspect of this watch. Certainly, it won’t appeal to the masses, as it combines a shaped case, a bold colour for the dial and old-school dimensions, but this intentionally outdated, old-fashioned concept is what makes the watch so appealing.
The March LA.B Mansart is a tribute to bold, but elegant, 1960s shaped watches, and as such, makes quite an impression.
With such a watch, it’s all about design. The March LA.B Mansart pays tribute to the Place Vendome in Paris, as it follows the octagonal architecture of this typically Parisian area, sketched by Sun King’s architect Jules Hardouin-Mansart (hence the name of the watch). As such, the watch comes in an architectural, bold shaped-case, with an octagonal and stepped profile. By playing with brushed and polished surfaces, the brand’s designer reinforces a feeling of volumes.
Another interesting aspect of the Mansart regards its proportions. While today’s standards for a dress watch are about 38 or 39mm, this watch is extremely compact, measuring 34mm across and 39mm lug-to-lug. Small, some will say. I say greatly proportioned regarding the inspiration. Furthermore, considering the bold design of the case, the watch has much more wrist presence than what specifications indicate.
Several other details make this March LA.B Mansart special. The crown, for instance, is positioned at 4 o’clock, which breaks the symmetry of this very structured design. Second is the strap, which really adds to this watch’s appeal. It’s thin, it’s glossy, it has a lizard pattern… It makes for an original watch, once again far from usual codes of modern design.
The dial of the March LA.B Mansart is available in two versions. One is presented in a classic silver tone. The other, far more interesting, is the present dark gold colour, which is combined with vertical stripes and a sunray brushed central area. The colour is bold, very unique and has this slight je ne sais quoi that reminds me of late-1960s furniture design. To complement the design, the choice was to have only two hands, for the hours and minutes.
Under a green-tinted sapphire caseback, a signature design element on most March LA.B watches, the Mansart reveals an outsourced and well-known Japanese automatic movement, the Miyota 90S5. This base calibre is a nice alternative to its Swiss counterparts and allows for a more accessible price strategy.
Thoughts, Price and availability
Looking at the March LA.B Mansart, it immediately makes me think of vintage tuxedo watches produced by Patek or Piaget, watches that might not be the most sought-after models in the market, but that are a forgotten part of 1960s creativity. All in all, the Mansart is refreshing. It isn’t you usual copy of a vintage dive watch. It is lighter, funkier and old-fashioned, in a very pleasant way.
The March LA.B Mansart is priced at EUR 1,245, which seems fair regarding the complexity of the case and the nice execution of the dial. It is available now at retailers and on the brand’s website, www.march-lab.com.