Thursday, April 13, 2017

Review of Marc & Sons Professional Automatic Diver Sport


Model # MSD-045-1

Brand/Model:  Marc & Sons Professional Automatic Diver Sport, Item # 20790
Movement:  Japanese automatic
Material:  stainless steel case and bracelet, ceramic bezel insert
Complications:  date display
Price:  approx. $344 USD


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

Marc & Sons is a small German watch manufacturer that produces its watches in Germany using high-quality movements sourced from the best movement makers.  Their lineup consists mainly of automatic diver watches with a few chronographs and pilot-style pieces mixed in.  The company has been on the move lately, introducing new models that continue the spirit and philosophy of the company, that is, ‘a perfect combination of functionality, personal style and way of life’ according to their web site.  This brand has intrigued me and I was anxious to see one of their watches in the flesh.

The Marc & Sons watch being reviewed here is one of their brand-new Professional automatic diver models, with an updated handset featuring an orange minute hand for enhanced visibility.  Service from the company was excellent, with the watch arriving well packaged and in perfect shape straight from Germany.

The Marc & Sons diver starts with an all stainless steel case that is polished on the sides and rear and brushed on the top, with slightly beveled polished edges on the lugs.  The watch measures 42mm without the screwdown crown; 45.5mm with the crown included. 

The crown itself is a nearly perfect size, not too small nor too large at 6.8mm.  It would be nice if the crown was signed, as I always think a signed crown adds a bit of panache to a watch, even a diver.  Crown action has a good feel, with slight spring tension and a smooth 2-1/2 turns to lock.

There are also crown guards on the case that protrude slightly to help protect the crown from impacts.  These guards are perfectly sized for the case and don’t overwhelm anything.

Case thickness is 15.3mm, with a brushed, screwdown caseback.  The caseback has standard watch information stamped into it along with the company name in the center.  There are six evenly spaced divots in the center of the caseback for a caseback tool to remove the back during service.  There is also a coin-edge around the caseback edge.

Lug-to-lug height of the Marc & Sons diver is 49.7mm, with a 22mm lug spacing.  The bracelet measures 22mm at the lugs and tapers to 20mm at the clasp.

One nice thing about this watch is its overall proportions.  Everything seems to be sized just right, without any pieces being garish, overblown or odd-looking.  It’s sublime attention to detail like this that can make a watch a pleasure to wear.  This watch also has a solid heft to it and feels good on the wrist.

Overall fit and finish is very good and a tad above other brands at this pricepoint.  The Marc & Sons diver being reviewed here is factory rated for 300 meters of water resistance.

One thing that really stood out for me about this watch is the clean, easy-to-read dial that not only looks sharp, but somehow has a personality all its own even though it borrows cues from the ocean of other dive watches on the market (don’t they all?)  The dial is a matte black with properly sized applied markers with inset lume.  The markers at the five minute marks are round, while the markers at the 6 and 9 slots are rectangular.  An inverted triangle marker sits at the 12 position.  All the markers are rimmed in silver with white inset lume.

Simple white hash marks comprise a chapter ring, with hash marks for each second around the dial.  The handset also shines, with the hour hand being a semi-broadarrow style in white, while the minute hand is a sword style in orange.  Like the markers, the hands are rimmed in silver with white inset lume.  The seconds hand is a simple silver stick with a lume ball about 80-percent of the way up its shaft and a small round silver ball end extending slightly past the pinion shaft on its opposite end.  Simple and uncomplicated. 

There is a quickset date window at 3 with a black on white date wheel.  The window is outlined with a silver frame and alignment of the wheel within the window is perfect.  The quickset date itself functions as it should.

Finishing off the dial is relatively minimal printing (thank you), with the Marc & Sons name below the 12; above the 6, there is ‘1000ft/300m’. ‘PROFESSIONAL’, ‘AUTOMATIC’ and ‘SAPPHIRE’ all done in a small font size in white, so it’s fairly unobtrusive.  There is also a very small ‘MADE IN GERMANY’ at the bottom of the dial.

I would lose the ‘SAPPHIRE’ wording because it really does nothing but add clutter to the dial, and as the caseback mentions ‘sapphire glass’ there’s no need to restate this fact.  A small but necessary quibble.

Topping the dial is, you guessed it, is a sapphire crystal that is slightly domed.  The crystal exhibits no distortion and having less of a dome to it is a welcome change to so many crystals these days that seem to be overly domed.  The crystal could benefit from the application of more anti-reflective coating, as you can still see reflections in some of the photos.

The bezel is a 120-click unidirectional design with a gloss black ceramic insert and a coin edge.  There is an inverted white triangle at the 12 position, with minute marks through 15, then white rectangles at the five minute spots and white arabics at 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50.  All the arabics and hash marks on the bezel are luminous.  The bezel operates smoothly with some backlash apparent.

And speaking of lume, the dial markers, handset and the aforementioned parts on the bezel all glow a nifty ice blue, since Marc & Sons uses SuperLuminova BGW9.  Lume quality is excellent, evenly applied and consistent between all the parts of the watch.  Nicely done!

Build and assembly quality under my standard 8X loupe exam showed no dial defects or dirt.  Everything looked good, with the quality of the applied markers being particularly nice.

Overall, the dial exhibits the same great proportions as the rest of the watch.  Nothing too large or too small and this design approach yields a great looking dial that compliments the entire watch and brings it together as a cohesive whole.

Powering the Marc & Sons diver is the high-quality Seiko (SII) NH35 movement that is also found in other watches at this pricepoint.  The NH35 runs in 24 jewels and beats at 21,600 vph.  It can be handwound and also hacks. 

The NH35 in the Marc & Sons diver winds and sets fine and during my testing, ran at +13 seconds over 24 hours in the crown up position.  Power reserve was a strong 46 hours.  No complaints in the movement department and I’m sure this engine will give years of reliable service.

The bracelet on the Marc & Sons diver is a solid link all stainless steel oyster style that is fully brushed with solid end links.  The bracelet links are slightly thicker than average without being too chunky.  The links are held in place by standard split pins, which I found hard to remove during sizing.  Sometimes split pins can be a pain, and although I was able to remove them and size the bracelet, it was tedious going at times.  The quality of the bracelet itself is very good, with none of the black gunk or manufacturing residue you sometimes encounter between links during sizing.

One curious thing about the bracelet, I have a smaller 6-3/4 inch wrist and I had to take out all of the removable links to size the watch and had to rely on the microadjustment on the clasp to achieve a proper fit.  There should be one more removable link on each side of the bracelet to help those of a smaller wrist get a good fit.

As previously mentioned, the bracelet measures 22mm at the lugs and tapers to 20mm at the clasp.   The clasp is really the only disappointment on this watch.  The clasp itself is stamped steel with a signed flip-lock.  But the deployant is nothing more than stamped steel and there is no dive extension to be found.  For a 300 meter capable dive watch that is billed as ‘professional’, the deployant should be machined and there should be a dive extension.  Why Marc & Sons chose this rather cheap stamped steel deployant is beyond me; it doesn’t do justice to the rest of the watch.

The clasp does have a bevy of microadjustment holes on it, though, and it’s a good thing, because as mentioned above, I had to use them to get a good fit.  There are a total of seven microadjustment holes, well beyond the standard three or four you usually see.

Presentation is a standard black padded box emblazoned with the Marc & Sons name, along with a plain white cardboard outer sleeve.  Inside the box was the instruction manual and warranty card.  Marc & Sons gives a two year warranty, which is nice.  The presentation is simple and effective, nothing special but acceptable at this pricepoint.

Marc & Sons has created a superb automatic diver with its Model MSD-045-1.  This watch has the requisite features you would expect for a diver in this price category and is more than competitive and should be cross shopped against competitors. 

What really makes this watch shine for me is its overall proportionality.  It’s just about perfect in terms of the right dimensions everywhere you look and it also looks good just about everywhere you look.  All it needs is a machined deployant and a dive extension and it would be a breakout hit.  All-in-all, a superb piece from a brand that bears watching.

Pros: well constructed case and bracelet with great overall proportions, superb lume, reliable Seiko automatic movement, nice looking dial with easy legibility, strong build quality

Cons:  stamped steel deployant doesn’t match quality of the rest of the watch, bracelet split pins quite tight making sizing difficult, could use two more removable links on bracelet for those of a smaller wrist size, more a/r on the crystal would be nice

Verdict:  a very well-executed automatic dive watch from a smaller German company with fine overall looks and features that make it competitive at its pricepoint.  A nice piece to wear and show off in all situations.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the pics.

Excelsior!


-Marc


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