Coincidentally I am writing this review while in Switzerland. The mecca for all things watch. Being here has helped me really understand the Magellan 1521 watch. One way to look at parts of Switzerland (especially the airport) is that it is like a huge mosaic for watch ads. Brands that you’d never think would have their own billboard are prominently displayed as though they were selling laundry detergent. And I don’t think I saw one ad for a watch that would go for under $10,000. So how is all this relevant? Because as a maker of fine watches, what you really need to do is do something different in order to be noticed. That, or your brand needs to mean something very special. As such, Magellan watches are one satisfying way of doing something different with watches. The best part, is that the quality with these timepieces is also very high.
You see before you the Magellan 1521 NH, in stainless steel, and on a honey colored ostrich strap. The watch is available also in18k yellow gold, and on a handful of other straps. If you are really ballsy, you can opt for a version of the watch that has jewels filling out the continents on the map display. The smooth sides case is 43mm wide and 19mm tall. You can tell that most of the case is complex and expensive to manufacture domed sapphire crystal that seamlessly is integrated with the metal case. It makes for an incredible and satisfying result. Also, the metal on the watch is incredibly well polished. Just a perfect mirror polish with a very nice finish on it.
Then of course is the main attraction. A honest and nicely reduced globe on your wrist. In fact the Magellan 1521 watch is probably the best way of getting a globe on your wrist at all. The perfect half globe is placed on the dial surrounded by a ring in mother-of-pearl with navigation like markers printed on it in what looks like red and black enamel. From a practical perspective the watch indicators go back and forth between those of a map and those of a timepiece – never quite agreeing upon what you are looking at, but that is part of the charm. For example, you’ll be using longitude indicators as the hour markers.
One fact that makes the watch look so unique on your wrist (aside from the conspicuous looking globe) is the style of the case. It has no visible crown, and no lugs. This gives the watch a much cleaner look. The thick strap is attached directly to the case and the crown is integrated into the chapter ring. Looking on the dial you can see a hump over the mother-of-pearl chapter ring where the crown is situated. You’ll have to access the rear of the watch to operate the crown. It is actually easier to use than it might sound. While looking at the rear of the watch you can get another map, engraved into the caseback beautifully. Nothing more fitting than that on the rear of the watch.
If you recall I mentioned that this is the 1521 NH model. That stands for “northern hemisphere,” which is the side of the Earth that you are looking at. There was a SH (southern hemisphere) version available as a limited edition that all sold out. Most of the world’s watch buyers are in the Northern Hemisphere (Australia, no worries, I know you love watches too). The image of the map on the globe is done in a retro style that alludes to vintage navigational tools and maps decorated will mythical creatures in the water. At a time when there were still frontiers on terrestrial Earth, the Magellan 1521 would have been a good companion. However, if you own a zeppelin or blimp today, this is going to be a perfect watch for you. In fact, and eccentric classicist will feel more than in their element when adorning this watch.
Mechanically the Magellan 1521 watch has a modified Swiss ETA 2893-2 automatic movement in it. The high-grade movement needed to be modified to allow for the hands to be attached so high up from the movement. As you can see, there is some significant room between the top of the globe and where the movement would be. As such, Magellan needed to have very (very) thin (some hollow) metal rods made to extend the hand connector points. If you understand how watch hands are attached, you’ll be able to appreciate just how difficult these rods were to make. The hands themselves are curved so that they wrap around the globe as one might expect them to in such a design. The GMT movement has a fourth hand for 24 hour time, which is done in a mirror polished orb style hand. The seconds hand is in red, while the hour and minute hands are simple in black with a strip of SuperLumiNova on them. To assist with reading the time, there are little applied balls of luminant placed around the chapter ring on the mother-of-pearl at each hour indicator. Time is pretty easy to read even though the hands are curved. Look straight down at the watch and you’ll barely notice.
One quirk the watch has is no indicators for 24 hour time. The hand is more intended to be used as a “sun hand.” Loosely indicating where the sun would be shining at any given time on the Earth. It can be independently adjusted of course and used as a 24 hour indicator if desired, but can’t be read with too much precision. I must further stress that this is a luxury watch through and through. Materials, construction, and finish are very high quality, even at the price level. Another nice tough is the perlage polishing inside the butterfly deployment clasp. It also has a seriously mirror polished buckle on it. Given the manner that the strap is connected to the case, there is a degree of tension that causes the deployment to spring open when you’ve pressed the release button. It is an interesting effect and fun to have.
As I continue to review the watch I keep thinking about who a watch like this will appeal to the most. Many of us can agree that we like it, but would be wear it? Well, I sure would, but I don’t think I do the watch justice. Maybe I need a nice bomber jacket and a retro convertible speeding over to my bi-plane waiting at the airfield – to feel like the watch is being well utilized from a lifestyle perspective. This means that the watch is flashy, just not in the typical way. It will get noticed, and it will get people thinking about the guy who literally has the world in his hand. The Magellan 1521 NH watch comes in a really nicely made and polished wood box – that I normally wouldn’t mention, but the finish on the wood makes me happy. Price is about $5,600 in steel. A cool and sophisticated watch that just may convince you to adapt your personality and lifestyle to wear it.