Belgium might not be the first country you think of when it comes to watches. Of course, there’s Ressence and its impressively modern watches, but that’s about it. And now there’s a newcomer on the market called Méraud, which has just launched its first watch a few hours ago on Kickstarter. Get used to this new launch pad format because it is the way to go nowadays when you want to start a brand. The first model is named “Bonaire” and it is quite a cool-looking, retro-inspired dive watch with multiple details to catch our attention. Overview.
Méraud Watch Co. was founded by vintage watch collector and one of the leading members of the Belgium Watch Club, Stijn Busschaert. A watch enthusiast for years, Stijn decided to harness his passion and create his own brand. The idea behind Méraud was to create modernly crafted watches infused with vintage references – so-called “Heritage” watches – at a reasonable price.
Certainly, Stijn Busschaert isn’t the first one with this idea – in fact, many microbrands use this as a base. What changes here, compared to the vast majority of the Chinese-built, Miyota-powered offers is the superior attention to detail and a proper Swiss movement. We’re certainly in the same category as Laventure Watches or the E.C. Andersson Calypso, reasonably-priced watches (meaning not necessarily affordable) with a more solid technical background including a Swiss movement, detailed cases and movements and beautiful straps.
The first watch introduced by Méraud is named Bonaire and it is an attractive, vintage-inspired, well-proportioned automatic dive watch (for the record, Bonaire is a Caribbean island that’s also known as “Diver’s Paradise”). The first impression is that of a 39mm dive watch with nice retro elements. First, the case is small enough (compared to most dive watches available on the market) to feel a bit old-school. The execution is pleasant, with brushed sides, circular brushed lugs with polished bevels and lug holes. A large but low-profile crown without crown guards completes the retro look.
The bezel is also an ode to the past – which has a bit of Fifty Fathoms inspiration. The insert mimics the look of vintage bakelite bezels but is made of sapphire crystal with numerals and markers that are printed on the inner side (all are luminous). As all decent dive watches, it features a unidirectional bezel with a 60-minute diving scale. The overall habillage is well-crafted, clean and on the minimalist side.
The same can be said about the dial. If it comes across as quite plain and simple at first, it displays nice details, such as applied indices and a legible format for the markers. The dial is discreet and, for our pleasure, get rids of the date window. The Méraud Bonaire will be available in three versions:
- glossy black dial and black bezel with patina-like Super-LumiNova – Cognac strap
- deep marine blue sunburst dial and blue bezel with C3 (white) Super-LumiNova – marine blue strap
- graphite grey sunburst dial and black bezel with C3 (white) Super-LumiNova – taupe strap
Powering this new Méraud Bonaire is an automatic movement, the STP1-11. Behind this name is a clone of the ETA 2824-2 produced by a Swiss movement maker, Swiss Technology Production (a competitor of Sellita and Soprod). The movement features the same architecture and dimensions as its clone but with some improvements, including a longer power reserve (44h vs. 38h at ETA or Sellita). The movement has a perlage finish, while the rotor has a Côte de Genève finish and a Méraud signature. It is, however, hidden behind a solid steel cover.
In addition to the nice textured calf leather straps offered, Méraud also presents a cool, vintage-inspired steel bracelet with riveted sides and a highly tapered profile as an option (close to what Oris offers on the 65). The steel rivet bracelet will be a stretch goal on Kickstarter. Each Méraud Bonaire watch comes with an extra rubber strap and a NATO-style strap to accompany the selected leather strap or steel bracelet. The complete set – watch, straps, and tool – is presented in a wooden box.
The Méraud Bonaire is now available through a Kickstarter campaign, with prices starting at EUR 635. Certainly not the most affordable watch we’ve seen launched via a crowdfunding process, however quality, materials and movements are on par. More details on meraud-watches.com.