MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review

MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review

MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review Wrist Time Reviews

Small independent watch brands that offer good value and nice designs are out there... if you look. MAT is one of them, and if you like a refined, military, sort-of-vintage design in a sport watch, then you'll want to keep paying attention. In this review, aBlogtoWatch looks at two similar models which nicely sum up what the MAT brand is all about with the AG5 Air and AG5 Terre models.

This isn't our first MAT watch review. In the past our David reviewed the MAT AG5CHL Chronograph here. In a similar case, these two AG5 watches are three-hand automatics, with a more simple style that in a lot of ways could make these better watches for most watch lovers. For a Swiss Valjoux 7750-based chronograph, the MAT watches with those movements are a good value at about $2,600. These non-chronograph models with more elegant dials are about $1,000 less, and offer a lot of great features and detailing for a sport watch at this price.

MAT is a Paris, France-based watchmaker - making it one of the remaining few, especially as an independent brand. You don't go to a brand like this for pure design originality, but rather a successful curation of existing elements into a really nice package. France is excellent at making beautifully curated high-end fashion items, and when it comes to watches, they tend to do it really well. MAT has some natural competitors in the space, each of which are great brands. Such competitors include Paris-based Bell & Ross, as well as German companies such as Sinn and Damasko.

MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review Wrist Time Reviews

MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review Wrist Time Reviews

MAT claims to have begun life in about 2005 by producing some custom watches for French military forces. They say it was in 2007 when they began to produce watches for consumers. Now a decade later, the brand still feels young, even if their products have a generally excellent feel and poise to them - especially for the money.

MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review Wrist Time Reviews

MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review Wrist Time Reviews

"MAT" stands for "Mer, Air, Terre," which is clever. Of course that means "sea, sky, and land," commenting on the active, professional nature of their designs. Not all of their watches are military-style in their presentation. The brand has some interesting models that play with the concept of a "California dial," and sizes range from about 39mm wide to the 44mm width of these AG5 models.

MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review Wrist Time Reviews

MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review Wrist Time Reviews

In this review you'll see two distinct models from MAT, but in many ways these are the same watch. MAT actually uses this same case (offered in a few styles and finishes) for a series of models. What is different between these two watches is the dial and the straps that come with the watch. One of them focuses on the "land" part of the brand's theme (the AG5 Terre) with its khaki green dial, and the other model is inspired by pilot watches with its own cockpit clock-inspired dial (the AG5 Air). Otherwise, the watches share a case and movement.

MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review Wrist Time Reviews

MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review Wrist Time Reviews

The MAT AG5 case comes here in brushed steel, and is 44mm wide with 300m of water resistance and a sapphire crystal. As you can see the case is large, with wide lugs, a 22mm wide strap, and considerable thickness. With that said, the case is extremely sturdy and also very comfortable. The brand did a lot of things right such as correctly placing where the strap bar holes are placed on the lugs, and the overall case detailing.

MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review Wrist Time Reviews

MAT AG5 Air & Terre Watches Review Wrist Time Reviews

I want to bring up that point again about the holes in the lugs. MAT designed them to be drilled in the correct location such that the strap fits close to the case for an attractive and comfortable fit on the wrist. It might seem like a small detail, but many other brands get this wrong. The AG5 case also has a very satisfying uni-directional rotating bezel. The black-coated steel bezel not only acts to visually increase the size of the dial (especially on the AG5 Air model where the black of the dial and bezel match better), but is also lovely to turn. You get a very pleasant metallic "cling cling cling" sound with each of the 60 bezel clicks.

What do you think?
  • I love it! (21)
  • Interesting (16)
  • I want it! (9)
  • Thumbs up (2)
  • Classy (0)
  • Saddest Factory

    Whaddya say, Phil? Box 6?

  • Pete Pete

    another very serious competitor for the worst logo award.

    the watch. looks familiar. I think I’ve seen that one a few hundred times already.

  • Mikita

    Doesn’t look bad, but why only 44 mm? You insult Simon’s Johnson!

    • SuperStrapper

      Simon thinks it’s bullshit, and I just can’t bear to repeat what the Johnson has to say about it.

  • Mark1884

    Left crown is unacceptable. Lugs are horrible. This company is competition for Bell & Ross and Sinn??? ……… I don’t think so.
    PASS

  • Word Merchant

    No.

  • BrJean

    Not bad at all. I even like their logo — looks very old-school, straight from XVIII century. The dial is clean and legible but its flatness is an issue. Applied hour markers or numerals would help here but it would also probably increase watch price by several thousand dollars…

    • No, applied markers raise the production costs by maybe 10 bucks per watch – actually less (which I think you knew and were being sarcastic about). But I suspect this was a decision based not on cost but on doing a traditional dial for the military styles that these watches embody. Cheers.

  • Marius

    According to this article: “Such competitors include Paris-based Bell & Ross, as well as German companies such as Sinn and Damasko.”

    I’m sorry, but I don’t see how MAT can compete with Bell&Ross and Sinn. Bell&Ross as well as Sinn are already well-established brands with a proven track record; they have a unique & easily-identifiable design language; they have a loyal fan base; and they have a stable international dealer network. Damasko is less well-known, but they are backed by an aerospace company, and they even have a very decent in-house movement (A35). On the other hand, MAT is a no-name brand.

    Furthermore, I don’t see what would warrant the $1,700 price. The design is ugly & blocky; the 300m WR is standard (judging by the ugly case, I assumed that the WR would be at least 1000m); and the movement is a cheap & ubiquitous ETA. A lot of people criticize Breitling and IWC for charging around $4,000 for ETA-powered watches (SuperOcean, Mark XVIII, etc.). I agree that these timepieces are overpriced, but considering that no-name brands like Daedalus and MAT charge almost $2,000 for an ETA-equipped watch, I would say that Breitling and IWC can be seen as very decent value offerings.

    • TrevorXM

      Your comments are bang on. I’m not a fan of B&R but I can’t deny they have a signature design language and are very recognized and successful. Sinn I like better and it has signature watch designs, too. Damasko, it seems, will never have its in-house movement watch reviewed on ABTW, though it is vastly superior to this company. I guess they just don’t think ABTW is worthy of being sent a sample watch?

  • SuperStrapper

    Not terrible, but nothing much exciting either. They played these very safe, which I’m sure was probably a good idea. I don’t have a problem with them being compared to a few other brands that once upon a time were little known and eventually became forum darlings, and from there became respected brands. But why would you need to remember actual history when you can just smear.

    All in, there was just something so familiar about that dial… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5252797e9046f8c125aeebb30a97920ebfb6ab8aa7be9c20c5d732b8a04b6592.jpg

    • Lincolnshire Poacher

      My first thought too.

  • Chunky, clean, readable and somewhat manly but at this price one can get a Sinn, a much more recognizable Bell&Ross or (why not) an excellent Seiko.

    • Semido

      It’s clearly for the man who wants something different.

  • BNABOD

    I think they did ok. The case is bold, legible and as a whole I think it works. Do they have the aura of a B&R no way but they also charge a massive amount for nice cases yes yet still stuffed with very basic eta movements.
    1400 bucks is still plenty of dough for something like this and micro companies can generate as nice offerings for much less.

  • Simon_Hell

    Im perfectly aware and accepting of the fact that what looks good is deeply subjective and individual matter and that there is no universal standard. Which is why i almost never engage in arguments on appearance of things.

    That being all said – if you think that the way this watch looks is ‘ok’, ‘fine’, ‘not bad’ or ‘not terrible’, you are officially disqualified from having any opinion on anything regarding aesthetics, appearance, design or taste, ever. Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and the Ethopian naked mole-rat are all better equiped, qualified and fitted to judge looks than you.

    The only way this watch can be described is this: a watch
    When you ask a Chinese supplier to make you a watch, and you dont send them any specs, design, nothing at all, they’ll make this. Because this is exactly ‘a watch’. It doesn’t go one milimiter beyond that. It doesnt have a single design characteristic, except for the laughable left sided crown.

    That absence of design, thought, character of any kind, makes this one of the most atrocious watches I have ever seen. Ever. The people who made this should run back to their former bosses and beg on their knees for their old jobs back. This is the worst, most irresponsible and environmentally unfriendly use of metal, plastic and leather I have ever seen. Just throwing the raw material in a river would have made more environmental sense that using it to make this bruttaly underwhelming, pathetic, thoughtless turd.

    • DanW94

      Did your penis tell you it was going to piss in your cornflakes this morning?

    • Pete Pete

      to be fair, the sentence “One can make a legitimate observation that the designs aren’t original enough to merit enough brand identity for MAT.” is as hard as ariel can phrase the verdict “turd” it without hurting his business.

    • 200 Fathoms

      But what you do you think about the watches?

  • DanW94

    Appears to be another capable entry in the big and beastly tool/dive watch category akin to offerings from Helson, Haldor, Magrette, Benarus….etc…I like the green dial variant with the combination of the numbers and the round and rectangular hour markings, it gives the dial a bit of character.

  • Andrew Hughes

    Some bones to pick… I don’t see how MAT can be compared to Bell&Ross or Sinn. Many Sinn watches have ACTUAL high-tech bursting at the seams for the same money (Sinn 103, 104 on steel bracelets too!). Bell&Ross has way more style and are refined. This watch is just chunky and does not offer the aesthetic finesse or high-tech features the other brands mentioned. It does not offer originality either because it is so derivative of every other military-esque watches. As an experiment, I am asking what would someone pay for this based on looks and specs. I would say generously $750 at most with the ETA, but with a Miyota, $450. Opinions?

    • dennis

      My words exactly.

    • Since movement prices more of less tripled since 2012, getting a watch with an ETA movement for $750 is unlikely except from one of the lower end Swatch brands like Tissot (who gets them for well under 100 CHF). Yes there are indy brands offering 2824 based watches for under a grand, but the margins get really tight. So you need enough volume to make it worth your while to them for a 3 figure price. Tissot, Hamilton, etc. have the volume and low internal acquisition cost so they can pull it off.

      • Andrew Hughes

        I can see the validity of your point… I suppose as a consumer I want it all… great design, great movement and a bargain price. This one just does not float my boat… just a personal opinion, maybe based on how it looks more than anything. I am enjoying seeing what everyone is saying… the comments are often an entraining an enlightening as the article.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I’ve just died of boredom ( am ghost writing )

    • Saddest Factory

      Booclunk!™ Moving on,……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    • Insightful as always.

      • Raymond Wilkie

        There are instances where i have absolute nothing to say about a watch.

  • I must argue as to appearance, because I think that’s 90% of what a watch is all about. If I don’t like the looks, I don’t like the watch…I might respect it, but I wouldn’t wear it.

    I like the chunky, blocky look a lot, especially the crown and crown guards, and the destro position. The dial is an expression of form following function (what the hell time is it?), and the more I see date windows at 6:00 the more I think that’s where they belong. I just think it looks cool.

    Ariel’s right about the placement of the spring bar holes…it makes an enormous difference many brands ignore. 300M is great for a sport watch, sapphire crystal, solid and easily-serviced movement, good bezel action, and extra straps are a real bonus.

    I might not put it in the same league as Sinn, but it’s definitely in the Marathon GSAR class for build and price.

  • This is a worthy competitor to Janis Trading.

    • Saddest Factory

      Jay Tray is a docklands icon, so yours are very kind words.
      Just because they also make fortune cookies and those shoes that can be turned into roller-skates doesn’t affect their watchmaking icon status.

    • What? No.

  • Larry Holmack

    Well…..I do like the straps this watch comes with….and that’s about it.

  • I for one, really like what MAT is doing. I also agree that the Sinn/B&R comparison is correct, though having spent a few months with a different MAT in the collection, I’d only clarify that we’re not talking about *current* Sinn/B&R, but offerings from those brands 5+ years ago when the finishing was more basic, the designs more spartan, etc. Price will always be subjective, but I think if this brand can stay the course, these are great tool watches and a decent value in an increasingly competitive space.

    • And I think that is exactly the point – these are tool watches first and last. Their choice of materials, including movement, all drive the price up to where it is.

      • Lincolnshire Poacher

        At last, a vitriol free comment. To me they look like slightly more expensive Helsons. Chunky lugs, chunky crown guards, chunky crown. But a little more expensive, and a little less refined/more toolish. With experience they’ll get better.
        I like the 42mm Helsons, but these are just a bit to big for their looks.

        • I’m just a quart low on vitriol is all, ha ha.

          Seriously, I agree with your comments. But I think MAT was less concerned with refined (or ground breaking) looks than with projecting and delivering on a rugged tool watch look. It looks beefy in a way that Invicta tries and fails at. Sorry to compare a quality watch like MAT with Invicta, but I’m sure you get my point.

  • Esteban

    I had to turn off my monitors and blindly go away. This is Hideous Watch of the Month, for sure.

  • Juan-Antonio Garcia

    Ouch, why almost $1,700? Looks nice, not my cup of tea, but A for effort. At that price point, the competition is very hard, so I do not see many people forking this kind of dough for a non-brand watch. Wish them luck, but it is going to be a bumpy ride.

  • Buy and Sold

    “MAT claims to have begun life in about 2005 by producing some custom watches for French military forces.” I have the AG1 from 2005 on my wrist as we speak, so their claim is verified! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/aa582bf1eb70c2c6219fb8ee77e7c9b878f3161069a9e13d4b11ab1680dfcf80.jpg

  • Phil leavell

    It may not be pretty but I think it’s a damn good to watch definitely worth looking into.

  • Ulysses31

    They’re handsome watches with a nice case design but nothing that pushes the boat out (for me anyway). I need something that instigates a little excitement, and these are anything but. They vaguely remind me of Marathon watches. Quality pieces for sure, but pricey.