September 10, 2021
by Ariel Adams
If you have ever traveled in Switzerland, you’ve probably made it to one of the country’s famed train stations. Why are they famed? Well, in addition to what I say about how Switzerland is actually just one big model train set, Switzerland is well-regarded for having trains that are very good at running on time. The reliability and competence of the Swiss train system are, indeed, something to be admired. Swiss railway punctuality is also associated with the clocks that each station has — distinctive and Bauhaus. If you’ve been to a Swiss train station, you’ve no doubt seen the design on this Mondaine watch dial.
Mondaine has been the official watchmaker of the Swiss Railways for a long time, and the brand continues to primarily (although not exclusively) produce variations on the Swiss Railways watch for people of all ages, sizes, and genders. Most of the Mondaine Official Swiss Railways watches produced are Swiss Made quartz, but this Evo2 Automatic movement is among the less common mechanical Mondaine watches out there, especially nowadays.
In a very simple sense, the Mondaine Official Swiss Railways Evo2 Automatic is a 40mm-wide mechanical version of the Swiss Railways watch we all know and love. It doesn’t offer too much more than the movement, staying more or less pure to the original concept of the Swiss Railways wristwatch version of the original clock. The case is water-resistant to 50 meters and has an AR-coated sapphire crystal over the dial. The face of the watch is white with the iconic black and white hour markers and hands, paired with the “lollipop-red” seconds hand. The fancy Mondaine Stop2Go quartz watch is the brand’s best emulation of the actual train station clocks (given how they function at the end of each minute), but the automatic version is easier for aspirational luxury consumers to digest as a reason to spend more.
That said, Mondaine has value going for it, given the reasonable retail price of the Evo2 Automatic at well under $700 USD. At the same time, I feel as though there is a future opportunity to take this concept a bit further and embellish the core design a bit in an attempt to make the timepiece presence a bit more high-end. For example, I think the design would look good with raised hour markers as opposed to the flat printed black ones. This would give the dial more depth and visual interest, making it more engaging. Mondaine could experiment a lot with mechanical Swiss Railways watches as a means of designing them to bridge a gap between this icon of Swiss transportation and the expectations of status-seeking young customers.
To fit an automatic movement, the Swiss Railways watch case needed to be changed and, according to Mondaine, the Evo2 Automatic has a newly updated case that is in all polished steel, 40mm-wide, about 11mm-thick, and has a roughly 51mm lug-to-lug distance. On the rear of the watch is an exhibition caseback window with a view to the movement. Inside the watch is a Swiss Made Sellita SW200 automatic movement that operates at 4Hz with about two days of power reserve. The watch features the time and date (via a window at 3 o’clock). The automatic movement can be hand-wound via the non-screw-down crown (which is colored with red lacquer on the side and an “M” for the Mondaine logo).
Mondaine offers the Official Swiss Railways Evo20 watch in a few styles, including a smaller case size, as well as on a black leather strap or a Milanese-style metal bracelet (for a bit more money). Here we see the watch on the colorful red leather strap whose hue matches that of the famed orb-tipped red seconds hand for the train station clock. Mondaine thankfully pairs the strap with quick-release spring bars so that wearers can swap out for other straps, if they wish. I actually think that a black ballistic nylon strap (maybe with red stitching) would go nicely with a wristwatch design such as this.
Mid-sized and classic, Mondaine is going to do well with the Evo2 Automatic version of the Official Swiss Railways watch, given today’s tastes. Consumer preferences for Swiss Made, albeit sub-$1,000, watches also bode well for products such as this from Mondaine. Timepiece enthusiasts might find the overall package a bit dull given the lack of decorative extras, but as a purist’s approach to making the classic Swiss Railways watch in a wearable mechanical package, the Mondaine reference MSE.40610.LC is hard to beat. Price for the Mondaine Official Swiss Railways Watch is $665 USD. Learn more at the Mondaine website here.