It’s been virtually 4 years since we final heard from Belgian model Méraud. In 2018, the model launched the Bonaire, a vintage-inspired diver that, together with a couple of different watches launched across the identical time, appeared to mark the rise of the vintage-inspired microbrand diver. Since then, we’ve seen innumerable different manufacturers make innumerable different fashions variously impressed by the previous and its watches. However after the Bonaire, Méraud went silent. I really questioned if the model had merely disappeared, one and accomplished. Then, I acquired a message from founder Stijn Busschaert letting me know that he was again and had one other nice watch he was about to launch. Whereas I had appreciated the Bonaire, the Méraud Antigua is much more spectacular.
The concept right here isn’t something new. We’ve seen a slew of vintage-inspired chronographs of late, and a few of them even embrace new-old-stock actions. Most of the time, these retro chronographs come from manufacturers which have huge again catalogs from which they will draw. Timex, Citizen, and Tissot have all revisited outdated chronograph designs not too long ago, and Sean simply spent a complete Monday lauding the TAG Heuer Monza reissue. Heck, Longines has mainly outlined itself with its Heritage assortment, together with a bevy of chronos. After which there are the zombie manufacturers, introduced again from the lifeless by enterprising fans who’ve recreated basic timepieces, like Lebois & Co. and Nivada Grenchen. The truth is, it was Nivada that not too long ago collaborated with Worn & Wound for a 20-piece, $6,900 version of its Chronomaster outfitted with a new-old-stock Valjoux 72. The Méraud Antigua seeks to attraction to the identical base, with a considerate colour palette, a stupendous case, and new-old-stock Landeron 248 actions (and at 1/3 the value of that Nivada).
Whereas there’s loads to like about the entire watch, in my opinion- it’s the case that actually makes it. At 40mm vast and 48.6mm-long, the comparatively flat case sits neatly on the wrist, with trendy proportions that considerably betray its classic styling. The 13.5mm top isn’t successful any awards for slimness, however neither is it a punishing thickness; the case by no means feels unwieldy, managing to keep away from the towering presence of many trendy chronos (even vintage-inspired ones). However there are two components that actually stand out for me. The primary is the sweeping chamfers on the drilled lugs that develop alongside the lugs’ profile after which curve in on the termina. On an in any other case easy case, this elegant flourish—carried over from the model’s Bonaire diver—provides a bit of sophistication and appeal. The second aspect that struck me is the crown. Sure, it’s only a easy pull-out crown flanked by pump pushers, however what I appreciated was its form and measurement. As a substitute of sitting flush in opposition to the case when pushed in, it has a brief tube earlier than the ridged head, permitting for straightforward grip when needed. It’s a small however useful consideration.
In reality, the Méraud Antigua affords performance past the standard chronograph. Due to its absolutely lumed uni-directional sapphire bezel, it’s extra of a chrono-diver, a much less regularly seen variant of the usual chronograph, however one that’s actually experiencing a resurgence in recognition. The bezel is extremely satisfying and simple to function, with distinct, audible clicks, however what I like is that whereas it’s a sapphire insert, it’s flat, avoiding the temptation to be spherical and bulbous (a temptation which many different current watches haven’t managed to withstand). Paired with 100m of water resistance, the Méraud Antigua is a chronograph you may really take—and use—within the water. Or, like most of us aspirational watch fans, you may simply use it to time the pasta and do the dishes.
To that finish, the leather-based you see right here will not be the one strap included or out there with the Antigua. The image straps are beautiful quick-release choices from well-regarded strap maker Molequin. I discovered them very comfy and never overlong like many inventory straps today (I don’t wish to exclude anybody, however possibly folks with very giant wrists ought to need to cope with that on their very own, as an alternative of creating the remainder of us undergo with strap tails that flap about). However for the waterborne amongst you, the Antigua may even include a rubber tropic strap (black for black, inexperienced for sand), and, maybe most significantly, there’s a riveted oyster-stye bracelet just like that discovered on the outdated Tudor Rangers that may be bought for $138 and has fitted finish hyperlinks for a seamless look (you may try each within the gallery on the finish of the evaluation).
The Antigua dial is each thrilling and restrained. Definitely, all of us love a little bit of colour, a splash of pleasure in an in any other case subdued dial. Some chronographs—particularly these with regatta or soccer timers, it appears—go particularly wild with colour, which might be a variety of enjoyable, however I’ve at all times discovered a bit limiting on the subject of events for put on and strap pairings. The Antigua alternatively affords two dials with complementary colorways that neither scream out for consideration nor get misplaced within the crowd. Provided in black (“Miho Black”) or sand (“Comfortable Sand”), each dials use light shades of blue and orange so as to add a little bit of character. The sunken huge eye 45-minute chronograph subdials at 3 o’clock supply azurage end with 5-minute colour block demarcations. At three 3 o’clock, a operating seconds acts extra as a operating indicator than a seconds hand, given its single-color, two-ended diamond hand. (It could be extra correct to name the 9 o’clock dial a small eye than to name the three o’clock dial an enormous eye. Please talk about within the feedback.)
It’s not instantly clear, however the dial itself is raised above the peripheral tachymeter scale, including further depth. The polished utilized indices complement the outsized fingers. I say outsized as a result of the handset is decidedly vast, just like among the handsets utilized by Common Geneve on its Tri-Compax chronographs. And there are, in fact, some who will moan and groan in regards to the alternative of lume, right here. Accusations is perhaps hurled about “fauxtina.” I say poppycock and balderdash to that. The lume colour used pairs completely with colour schemes. On high of that, it shines extremely effectively for each the lume colour (which frequently suffers from weaker glow) and being a chronograph (on which lume is usually an afterthought). Individually, I choose the sand dial, with much less distinction and extra tone-on-tone vibes than the black, however there’s loads to like about each.
A part of the watch for these watches—Méraud’s second—was trying to find an acceptable batch of NOS chronographs (The opposite half was a world pandemic). It took two years to search out the 200 Landeron 248s that energy the Antiguas, they usually’ve been utterly overhauled to run like new. Seen via the sapphire caseback, that would be the important attraction for a lot of, placing the dial and the case within the again seat if not within the trunk. The Landeron 248 was a part of the Landeron 48 household, the primary cam-operated chronograph produced, with over 3.5 million made out of 1937-1970, and utilized by manufacturers like Leonidas, Heuer, and Nivada, amongst many others; even right this moment, these are usually not unusual to search out on classic watches. The mechanism has a bridge engraved with the model’s identify and operates at 18,000 vph (2.5hz) with an influence reserve of round 41 hours. Whereas these specs aren’t fairly what you’d get from, say, Sellita’s manual-wind SW510 (4hz and 62 hours), I feel the actions are loads sturdy, and 20 hours of energy is a good commerce for a cool NOS motion.
Whereas I feel we’d all like to see new designs (that’s, designs that aren’t “vintage-inspired”), there’s an plain attractiveness of the fantastic thing about yesteryear, one which has consumed watch designers for years now. The Méraud Antigua isn’t your solely choice in the case of vintage-inspired chronographs, nor the one choice with an precise classic motion. You may get the previous for much less (however attempt discovering a case as good on one among them) or the latter for occasionally fairly a bit extra. However the Antigua does is to play on that attraction with heavy classic inspiration and that particular motion, however balanced with a recent case and dial, each impeccably executed. The Méraud Antigua Chronograph is priced at $1,911 USD and is restricted to 100 items per mannequin; supply is anticipated in Fall 2023. For extra data, please go to the model’s web site.
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