The Ancon Magnus in bronze is a fun watch from a brand anyone interested in sub $1,000 mechanical watches should know about. I recall the first conversation I had while wearing the watch “out in the wild.” I was at a party here in Los Angeles and ended up speaking with someone who, like me, was a reporter of sorts. Though unlike me, this individual was strictly in the fashion industry, and while I am technically in the fashion industry… I will deny it when possible.
So the topic of watches with this particular person inevitably arose during my attempt to relate. “So, tell me about the watch you are wearing.” The Ancon Magnus in bronze just happened to be on my wrist. I proceeded to explain the value-nature of the brand, and that the dial was inspired by the original Rolex Milgauss, followed by the popularity of bronze as a case material. None of that really seemed to go anywhere and I realized that this person may have been a bit too deeply entrenched in the less intellectual elements of fashion writing. Nevertheless, I seemed to inspire a spark of light because what came to mind in this fashion writer’s thoughts was, “now this is a great example of a fashion watch.”
Without argument, I proceeded to listen to where he might go with this. He knew little of a watch snob’s disdain for “fashion watches,” and that, for better or worse, the term is often used in a rather derogatory nature to describe timepieces that the masses consume to the chagrin of all that know about “real watches.” Perhaps I was defining the fashion watch wrong.
“I don’t know about watches, but I do know about leather, and stitching, and color matching.” I nodded in understanding. “This company is taking a lot of elements here and mixing them up in a really satisfying way. It takes a lot of work to select this color of leather and ensure that it distresses in the right way. I wonder why they chose to go with a contrast stitching, but I bet it matches those on the jeans they envision most people wearing with a watch like this will have.” That got my attention.
We went on to talk about the pros and cons of bronze cases and that this particular bronze was an alloy of bronze and aluminum to make it a bit harder and better for the skin. He thought it was really interesting how bronze developed a patina, and of course that this element was super fashionable. It got me thinking, the Ancon Magnus really is a fashion watch, and perhaps that isn’t a bad thing. In a sense, the design isn’t meant to be wholly original (as most fashion isn’t), but rather a curated assortment of bits and pieces put together in a novel manner.
I don’t think that Rolex would have ever imagined their original Milgauss dial in a 45mm wide bronze case. And I don’t think that most large sport watch makers would have thought to take inspiration from that particular Rolex. To be fair, Ancon is inspired by other vintage Rolex and Panerai designs in some of their other timepieces, but I felt that the Magnus was particularly nice – and for what the watch is trying to be, it is.
Ancon even plays with the fashion watch concept with the text on the dial. A line of words simply says “Lightning Bolt Second Hand,” which is meant to be more humorous than serious. Of course, this hand is one of the key Milgauss watch design features that still exists today on Rolex’s modern Milgauss timepieces. Four of the hour markers on the dial are applied and polished, while the rest of the dial is matte printed. Legibility is pretty good despite the polished hands. There is lume on the dial, but not enough in the hands to be worth mentioning really.
You can see a small date window between 4 and 5 o’clock on the dial. It is good to see that at this price point Ancon took the extra step to ensure that they use a black date disc versus a white one. It is also good that the date window does not disrupt the hour markers. The crystal over the dial is mineral, and I am only saying that because the Ancon website is entirely silent as to the crystal material. If it was sapphire they would have mentioned it. For the price that isn’t a big deal, and because the crystal is flat, light reflectivity isn’t that big of an issue.