Sunday, November 18, 2012

Review of Magrette Moana Pacific Chronograph PVD

Model # Moana Pacific Chronograph PVD

Brand/Model:  Magrette Moana Pacific Chronograph PVD, Limited Edition of 1000 pieces
Movement:  Chinese manual wind chronograph
Material:  PVD coated stainless steel case, leather strap
Complications:  chronograph timing in one second increments up to 30 minutes
Price:  $545 USD direct from Magrette; $30 USD shipping

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

This is the second Magrette watch I have owned and reviewed, the first being the Magrette Moana Pacific PVD diver I talked about last year.  This Moana Pacific Chronograph intrigued me because of its fairly original design and strong feature set. 

This model is a Limited Edition as are all Magrette watches.  This model is limited to 1000 pieces.  I pre-ordered this watch via Magrette’s web site (the only way to get a new Magrette) over the summer and took delivery in late September.  Communication during the wait period was good and shipping from New Zealand to the U.S. took about five days, so no complaints here.  The watch arrived in perfect condition.
The Moana Pacific Chronograph PVD starts with a brushed and polished PVD coated stainless steel case that measures 43.5mm without the large, signed screwdown crown.  With the crown, it’s 47.7mm across.  Large, yes, but surprisingly, not too unwieldy on the wrist.  Thickness is 15.5mm, lugs are 24mm. 

The caseback is polished stainless steel, that screws down and displays the nicely finished manual wind column wheel chronograph movement.  Why the caseback is not PVD like the rest of the watch is a mystery, because even though you really can’t see the caseback while you’re wearing the watch, it still seems jarring to have an all black watch case with a silver caseback.
The chronograph pushers also screw down, as they should on a watch that is rated at 500 meters of water resistance.
The application of the PVD is excellent, being evenly applied in all areas and the way parts are brushed (matte) and polished (glossy) is nice to look at, although the polished parts are a bit of a fingerprint magnet.
The dial on the Moana Pacific chronograph is black, with raised markers and arabics.  The layout is classic two-register chronograph, with a subdial at 3 and another subdial at 9. 

The oversized arabics and the zero in front of the single digits are a Magrette design trademark.  There are so many watches on the market these days with oversized arabics, either all over the dial or at certain positions that look, quite frankly, stupid.  But the way Magrette does their two large arabics gives their watches a modern, clean and cool look.  Especially on a larger watch like this, the design of the larger arabics works well.
The hour and minute hands are black with inset lume.  The black end tips of the hands tend to get lost in the black of the dial, not a huge distraction, but something to be aware of.  The markers and arabics are luminous, along with the hour and minute hands and chronograph/seconds hands in the subdials.  Unlike the Magrette watch I reviewed last year, the lume on the Moana Pacific Chronograph is C3 SuperLuminova and is outstanding, like it should be. 
The subdial at the 3 position is the 30-minute totalizer for the chronograph and the subdial at the 9 position is the watch seconds hand.  The chronograph second hand is a thin black hand with a lume tip.  This hand is really too small and tends to get lost in the dial as it rotates.  It needs an arrow tip or a wider stance to work better.
The chapter ring has arabics at each five minute mark, with hash marks between the arabics.  The arabics at each quarter hour are red, as is the inverted arrow at the 12 position.  The red makes a subtle but nice accent.
Regular readers will know that I am not a fan of excessive dial printing and thankfully, Magrette complies here, with just ‘Magrette’ and ‘chronograph’ appearing on the dial.  Nicely done!
The dial is capped with a double domed sapphire crystal with anti reflective coating.  The crystal fits flush with the edge of the bezel.  And speaking of the bezel, this is another feature that attracted me to this watch.  Ceramic bezels are all the rage these days, with Rolex and Omega leading the charge and seemingly every other watch company coming out with a ceramic bezel of their own.  Just so you know, the ceramic part is really just a thin insert that replaces a traditional steel or aluminum bezel insert.  
The ceramic bezel on the Moana Pacific Chronograph is polished and has engraved arabics at each quarter hour, minute marks for the first 15 minutes and markers every five minutes thereafter.  The bezel does look very cool, but is a bit hard to read due to little contrast between the polished and engraved parts and the only lume being a lume pip at the 12 position. 

Bezel action is a 60-click unidirectional type.  The bezel rotates smoothly, but alignment could be better, as it is just ever so slightly off at the top.  This seems odd, seeing that Magrette watches always seem to exhibit very good fit and finish.  Not a major distraction, but improvement is needed here.
Inside the Moana Pacific Chronograph is the Chinese made Seagull TY-2901/ST1901 manual wind column wheel chronograph movement.  This is the Chinese copy of the Venus 175 movement.  I had this movement in an Invicta several years back and found it to be a high quality unit.  My feelings remain with this movement in the Magrette.  It winds smoothly, runs great and the chronograph functions are crisp and accurate.  And the movement is superbly decorated, with blued screws, Geneva stripes and polished parts abounding, so it’s no wonder Magrette chose to install a display back on this watch.
In testing, my Moana Pacific Chronograph ran about -2 seconds/24 hours; it’s a bit hard to time since the movement does not hack, but timekeeping has been excellent.  Power reserve is equally strong, with 51-1/2 hours on a full wind.  I believe that this movement is one of the best movements coming out of China at this time, too bad it’s quite large, because something like this in a 42mm or smaller watch would be super cool.
Magrette gives buyers a choice of straps when they order their Moana Pacific Chronograph PVD, ranging from black leather with black stitch, black leather with red stitch, rubber or the chocolate brown leather shown here.  The dark brown with the black PVD is a smashing combination.  The strap is well constructed, measuring 24mm at the lugs and tapering to 22mm at the brushed PVD buckle.  There are two large keepers, both floating.  If you have a smaller wrist like I do, you may want to consider removing one of the keepers to make the watch less fussy while wearing.  
The strap is rather thick, but flexible and has larger coarse style stitching in a slightly lighter shade of brown.  The lugs are drilled to make strap changes easier.
Even though this is a large watch with a wide strap, it wears well on my 6-3/4” wrist.  The keepers are a bit large, but otherwise, the watch is a looker.  Just remember to unscrew the chrono pushers before using them and to lock them back down if you plan on getting the watch wet.
Presentation is Magrette unique, with the watch coming in a cloth/canvas roll placed inside a simple slide-top wooden box emblazoned with the Magrette logo.  The warranty paperwork is hand signed by Dion Wynyard McAsey (founder of Magrette), adding a bit of personalization to this timepiece.
Overall, the Magrette Moana Pacific Chronograph PVD is not a watch everyone will have, so if being exclusive is something that appeals to you, this could be the watch for you.  It’s quite large and in-charge and will garner looks because of its bold black case and unique dial layout.  Quality is pretty much first rate and while the price may seem a bit steep for a Chinese movement based watch, the feature set and limited edition nature of this watch compensate somewhat for the origin of the movement.
Pros:  nifty black PVD finish, classic two-register chronograph layout, great lume, nice dark brown strap, ceramic bezel looks cool
Cons:  why the silver caseback on an otherwise black watch?  bezel could align better, large size won’t suit all comers
Verdict:  unique, quality piece from a boutique watchmaker that strives to deliver originality and value.  You can’t really go wrong with the Magrette Moana Pacific Chronograph PVD if you want a large two-register chrono in your collection

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.

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