While a growing number of microbrands are producing well designed, high-quality watches that are nipping at the heels of brands like Hamilton, Tissot and Seiko, they don’t have the marketing or mass production prowess of those established brands. Some of the watches themselves, however, are bonafide contenders. Martenero is a young microbrand based in New York that already has a handful of intriguing lines in its portfolio. It recently funded a sequel to one of its bestsellers on Kickstarter, the Edgemere Reserve. It follows the original Edgemere and adds three complications, a 24-hour sub-dial, date and reserve indicator (the original Edgemere was a time-only piece). One of my favourite Martenero lines is the Kerrison, which is clean and conservative, but also full of personality. They remind me of the Three Hand Automatics from another young microbrand, Farer Universal. Both use splashes of colour to add a little fun to otherwise subdued (yet stylish) dials. Let’s take a closer look at the Martenero Kerrison in black.
Martenero was founded in 2014 by John Tarantino and the company already has seven distinct lines on its online storefront. Its watches don’t follow a specific formula and are both original and stylish (they’re not riding in the wake of another brand’s design). Martenero calls its design philosophy “tradition refreshed,” which is an accurate description as its watches are modern and even a little whimsical, but you’ll also find elements of classic designs throughout. Tarantino says that his pieces are inspired by heritage brands from decades or even centuries ago.
The company faces competition from microbrands like Mercer Watch Company in New Jersey, Farer Universal in England and UNDONE in Hong Kong. From Australia to Sweden to Canada, comparable microbrands are vying for the attention of watch enthusiasts around the world. Martenero isn’t yet producing in great volume and still relies on crowdfunding campaigns for new lines, but its designs are original, fun and sophisticated.
CASE AND DESIGN
The Kerrison has a 42mm stainless steel case that’s 10.8mm in height. It sounds kind of big but wears surprisingly well and smaller than the diameter suggests, feeling closer to a 40mm piece. The case has twisted lugs that remind me of Omega (the lyre-lugs of the Seamaster and the Speedmaster) and are highlighted by polished top surfaces that follow the twists (contrasting well with inner brushed surfaces). The rest of the case is brushed, except for a polished chamfer on the caseback, and the matte bezel works well against the polished bands directly below.
The front sapphire crystal peeks just above the bezel and a flat sapphire crystal provides an exhibition window on the caseback. The crown has Martenero’s M stamped on a polished, raised section at the end, and although it screws down, the case is water-resistant to only 50 meters. The comparable Marloe Haskell that I recently reviewed, without a screw-down crown, has a 100m water-resistance. That’s not a complaint as the Kerrison isn’t trying to be a dive watch, but I was a little surprised nonetheless. The case has a cool design and adds a sophisticated touch to the watch overall. Some of Martenero’s other lines have the same case design and I definitely find it appealing.
DIAL AND HANDS
The dial is classic and actually borrows a little from Martenero’s other watches. The raised outer minute track has applied stick indices every hour (double index at noon) with four printed dots between each. This is very similar to the dial on its Marquis line. The hour, minute and seconds hands, date window and printed crosshair pattern in the centre are also inspired by its Marquis watches. The Kerrison dial trades the Marquis Roman numerals for applied Arabic indices at 3, 9 and 12 o’clock – and it makes a real difference. I usually prefer Arabic to Roman numerals and that’s definitely the case here. The Kerrison line also has a fun pop of colour that the more conservative Marquis watches lack. Four different dial colourways are available – white, dark blue, silver and black – but that’s just half the story.
Variances in the hand and minute track colours add a visual punch, and either the turquoise or the red seconds hands contrast well with the rest of the palette. The black version I have has a dark blue minute track and white Alpha hour and minute hands, and a bright red seconds hand. The applied indices and numerals are white as well, with tiny blue numerals marking every five minutes at the inner end of each index.
The large date window at 6 o’clock has a nice white bevel and is refreshingly legible, and the black dial keeps things a bit more subdued than the other models. MARTENERO is printed in white at the top and AUTOMATIC printed small above the date window. I was surprised by the absence of lume on both the dial and hands, but not really bothered by it. Overall, I’d call this the fun younger brother to the all-business Marquis.
The Kerrison is equipped with a Miyota 9015 automatic, which is popular among microbrands and some established brands as well. It’s less expensive than Swiss counterparts like ETA and Sellita, but also very reliable and serviceable – for more details about alternative movements, see our recent in-depth article here.
This movement has 24 jewels, beats at 28,800vph (4Hz), has Parashock shock protection and a 42-hour power reserve. Functions include central hours, minutes and seconds (hacking) with a date complication. It’s rated as having an accuracy of -10 to +30 seconds per day and I averaged nine seconds fast per day during a week of testing.
Many Miyota movements remain undecorated workhorses, but this one has been slightly embellished with Geneva stripes under the rotor. MARTENERO has also been tastefully printed on the left bottom edge of the rotor. The finish is well executed and looks pleasant under the rear sapphire glass.
Three strap options are available for the Kerrison, including grey (dark blue and silver models), black (black model) and dark brown (white model). They’re all stitched leather, made in the USA, and have a stainless steel buckle with MARTENERO printed at the end. The strap on my piece wasn’t too stiff and fit comfortably out of the box. It broke in a little during my time with it and was near perfect after several days. One thing I noticed is a sizeable gap between the end of the strap and case edge as the lugs are rather long. This didn’t affect wearability, however, and also didn’t make the watch feel larger.
I’ve reviewed a variety of watches from microbrands and as mentioned earlier, the ones from Martenero stand out in a similar way to Farer Universal. Its use of colour and bold contrasts are fun without being over-the-top, and the cases are sophisticated beyond the basics. The black dial with white accents (and red seconds hand) is very legible and the raised dark blue minute track adds depth. I liked the integration of the date window that (almost) matches the applied numerals in both size and colour, fitting into the overall aesthetic well. The Kerrison is yet another example of a microbrand with the design and fit and finish that can rival an entry-level established brand, and the unique styling is sure to stand out in either the office or out on the hiking trail.
The Martenero Kerrison sells for USD 595 and is well priced for what you’re getting. The aforementioned Marloe Haskell is a few hundred dollars more, due in part to its Swiss ETA movement compared to the Japanese Miyota. There’s something to be said for having a Swiss Made watch, but for those who are simply concerned about reliability and style over branding, the Kerrison has a lot to offer. Martenero has free worldwide shipping, free returns and a 24-month warranty. You can purchase a Kerrison and find more information at the Martenero website.