Several years ago, American watch industry veteran Barry Cohen founded a new watch brand called Szanto. I got to know Barry while he was running Luminox in the United States,a company that he started. His share in Luminox was later sold corporate in Switzerland and Mr. Cohen made the decision to continue doing what he loves and knows best: watches. Szanto is supposed to be an affordable wristwatch maker that emphasizes a particular style of vintage military watches (from a number of eras). Today, I am looking at two Szanto watches — the Szanto Automatic Officer Classic Round 6304 and the Szanto Automatic Officer Coin Cushion 6202.

Szanto sells itself on a good, classic look in modern form for an attractive price. Does the brand deliver when it comes to those promises? Yes. Both of these watches are under $400 and contain Japanese mechanical automatic movements and a pretty decent set of parts including the dial, hands, case, and strap. No, I would not compare a Szanto watch to something much more expensive or complicated, but for the money, I will say that you get a satisfying “nice watch” experience.

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What Szanto isn’t trying to be is terribly original. There are plenty of other brands for that, and it is certainly true that these days, a more conservative look can go further with mainstream consumers. I’d say that Szanto is probably the most interesting to watch consumers in their first 3-4 years of collecting or as a gift for someone who isn’t a watch person, per se, but who wants a timepiece with some personality.

The good news is that Szanto watches aren’t boring. If there is anything Mr. Cohen knows well, it’s that a good timepiece is a tool watch with a bit of extra visual pizazz. In this regard, borrowing elements like the look of a machine-engraved dial (though these are stamped), turn of the 20th century-style aviator/sport watch hands, and intentionally large polished steel cases give what would otherwise be a simple watch a good amount of personality.

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Both the Szanto Automatic Officer Coin Cushion and Automatic Officer Classic Round watch cases are water-resistant to 100 meters and have mineral crystals over the dials. They come with actually soft leather straps (making them comfortable to wear), and each has SuperLumi-Nova on the hands and Arabic number hour markers to give them high-quality legibility. The Automatic Officer Classic Round is 43mm-wide, while the Automatic Officer Coin Cushion is 42.5mm-wide (but it wears larger given the cushion-style case shape). The “Coin” part of the name refers to the coined-edge on the bezel, which is a signature look of many classic aviator watches from roughly 100 years ago.

The particular Szanto Automatic Office Coin Cushion watch I am wearing here is the reference 6202, which has a silver-toned dial and blue-colored hands. It is matched to a black calf-leather strap. On the dial, we see a date, subsidiary seconds dial, and AM/PM hand, which is part of the Japanese Miyota 3Hz automatic movement with about two days of power reserve. That same movement is used in the Szanto Automatic Officer Classic Round watch — but the AM/PM indicator dial has been taken out. That latter watch is the reference 6304 and has a metallic bronze-colored dial and is paired with a brown leather strap. Both the watches are easy to read and, arguably, quite handsome. As a fashion brand, Szanto certainly has “the look” it is going for down at a price hard to find elsewhere.

Szanto also has some charming visuals on its website, but the brand concept could go a bit further. These days, it takes a bit more than good looks to sell a watch. What is missing is the “lifestyle” component that explains, more or less, who Szanto customers are, what Szanto customers do, and which Szanto watches they wear while doing what they do.” All in good time, perhaps. Price for the Szanto Automatic Officer Coin Cushion 6202 watch is $395 USD and price for the Szanto Automatic Officer Classic Round 6304 watch is $375 USD. Learn more at the Szanto website here.

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