Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review of Momo Design Pilot Series Automatic

Model # MD097-RB-01BK

Brand/Model:  Momo Design Automatic Pilot Series
Movement:  Swiss automatic
Material:  satin finish stainless steel with black ion-plate stainless steel bezel; rubber strap
Complications:  date display
Price:  MSRP:  $1,995 USD; Street Price:  $500 to $900 USD

Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Momo Design is similar to the Porsche Design studio.  Two well-known and well-regarded companies that design various items on contract for retail sale around the world.  Momo is perhaps best known for accessory steering wheels for cars, but has branched out into alloy wheels for cars, tuning accessories, racing equipment and the like.

Regarding watches, the Momo Design studio has quite a range of both quartz and automatic timepieces that exemplify the Momo Design credo; that would be modern, clean designs that are stylish, functional and unique.

I have been interested in acquiring a Momo Design watch for quite some time and when this Pilot Series automatic came along at the right price, I took the proverbial plunge and emerged with this piece in my hot little hands.  I don’t know who assembles these watches for Momo Design, the movement is Swiss, but the watch is marked ‘Made in Italy.’  Fit and finish is top-notch.

This Momo Design automatic appealed to me because of its square shape and super clean, modern appearance.  The case measures 40mm square around the bezel without the slim, signed screwdown crown (43.4mm across crown inclusive) and 44mm in height from the inside of the lugs (51mm lug tip to lug tip).  Thickness is 13.5mm.

The case is beautifully crafted in satin finish stainless steel that looks similar to titanium, with its light grey tone.  The square bezel is black ion-plated stainless steel, as is the crown.  The caseback is held in place by four fine screws and is a display type, showing off the workings of the Swiss ETA automatic movement with Momo-signed rotor.  The watch sports a modest water resistance rating of just 50 meters, so swimming is not advised with this piece.

The dial is a great flat black color and is highly legible due to minimal printing and great contrast.  The word ‘automatico’ is a great and cool touch.

The dial has a square raised chapter ring that has the markers and arabics on it, spaced at five minute increments, with arabics at 12, 3, 6 and 9.  On the side of the chapter ring, there are small arabics marking each five minute increment (05, 10, etc.)  On the dial itself, there are screened minute marks, with larger marks at each five minute mark.  This layout may sound busy, but trust me, it is not and makes this watch a pleasure to look at.

The hands are silver with red tips, with two-pieces of inset lume in each hand.  The seconds hand is red.  The quickset date window at the 3 position features a fairly small frameless window with a black on white date wheel. 

The hour and minute hands, along with the arabics and markers on the top side of the chapter ring and the markers on the dial are all luminous.  Lume quality is superb and looks super cool.

The dial is protected by a slightly curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on it.  The crystal does have some of the anti-reflective purple tint to it and is a fingerprint magnet.  This is unfortunate because the satin finish case hides fingerprints.  The crystal is beveled slightly on the edge and is fit into the case evenly.  Due to the curvature of the crystal and the anti-reflective coating, it is hard to get a clean dial photograph of this watch.

Inside this Momo Design automatic is the ubiquitous Swiss ETA 2824-2 25-jewel automatic movement that hacks and manually winds.  Performance has been very good, achieving 41-3/4 hours power reserve and a superb +1 second/24 hours timekeeping stat.  The watch winds, sets and runs perfectly.  The crown is rather thin, but has plenty of fluting on it for an easy grip.  It screws down smoothly and is signed with the Momo logo.

While I’m not a fan of rubber straps, the rubber strap on this Momo Design Pilot Series is in keeping with the overall svelte design of the watch.  The strap is thin, flexible and smooth, with mild grooves on the topside and is tastefully signed on both sides.  The strap fits in perfectly flush at the lugs for an integrated look and feel. 

The clasp is satin finish stainless steel and is a butterfly design with a machined deployant.  The free end of the strap is held in place by the stainless keeper on the clasp and by the single floating keeper on the strap.  The stainless keeper is signed.

This clasp does not have a pushbutton release on it and this is usually a bone of contention with me.  But since there is a free end of the strap to grab onto and pull gently, the clasp is easy to open, so I give this one a pass.  The strap is 22mm at the lugs and tapers to 19.8mm at the clasp.

A note about the strap…I tried to fit a leather strap on this watch and due to the placement of the springbar holes (fairly far towards the case on the inside of the lugs) and the rounded inside corners of the lugs where they meet the case, I was unable to do so.  I’m sure you could find a leather strap somewhere that would fit, but in most cases, you will probably not be able to replace the leather strap with something else.  I have learned to live with the rubber and being the only watch in my collection with a rubber strap, I actually enjoy this one.

Presentation is nice, with a large black cardboard outer box with removable signed lid and a reasonably impressive inner box made of matte black plastic with chromed plastic hinges, signed on the top with a plastic embossed ‘Momo Design’ inset.  It all feels a bit too plasticky, but is still a presentable design.

The Momo Design Pilot Series automatic comes in several different variations using the same case shape (chronograph, skeleton dial, etc.)  This watch presents itself well, features top-quality fit and finish and has a timeless, clean design that will never go out of style.  If Euro-chic is your thing or you just like a clean, easy-to-read well-made watch that has a look all its own, this Momo Design automatic is definitely worth a look.

Pros:  clean, sleek design, great quality, square shape has style, Swiss automatic engine 

Cons:  no pushbutton release on clasp, due to case design, hard to fit aftermarket straps, modest water resistance rating

Verdict:  a cool, clean and comfortable watch with Italian panache and Swiss practicality.  You won’t see this one every day and it will still look great 20 years from now.  Bellissimo!

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.



1 comment:

  1. Thanks for such an excellent review. I obtained this watch about a year ago and recently acquired another Momo Design Men's Pilot XL Limited Edition Automatic Chronograph GMT. These two are the absolute favorites in my current collection of watches.